Thursday, February 24, 2011

30 Days of Oscar Day 28: Network

Movie: Network
Year: 1977
Nominations: Best Picture, Director (Sidney Lumet), Best Actor (Peter Finch), Best Actor (William Holden), Best Actress (Faye Dunaway), Best Supporting Actress (Beatrice Straight), Best Supporting Actor (Ned Beatty), Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing
Wins/Snubs: Peter Finch became the first posthumous nominee and winner, Faye Dunaway won, as did Beatrice Straight (who I had to look up because no other woman stood out enough that I thought they'd be nominated, let alone win - and she holds the record for shortest time on screen (5 minutes 40 seconds) that earned an Oscar).  It also won Original Screenplay, but Rocky took Best Picture and Director for John G. Avildsen and Jason Robards won for All the King's Men.  

One of the problems I had with enjoying Taxi Driver was that I didn't think I understood the time period that the movie was made.  When I posed this to Hatter over at The Dark of the Matinee (he's from Canada), he replied with this:

Y’all were mired in a war that had gone on far too long and became wildly unpopular.
Your politicians were corrupt and sparking outrage and disgraceful scandal
The economy was in tatters and there were fears about the supply of oil
There were rampant fears about an unseen enemy (Communism)
And underneath it all, there was a fundamentalist right-wing Christian movement bubbling that was poised to take power in a big way.

Sound familiar?

So I guess it shouldn't be that hard to relate to the time of Taxi Driver.  This was ALSO the year of Network, which is a bit easier to understand.  In simple terms, Howard Beale (Peter Finch) is a newscaster who has been dumped by his network for falling ratings.  He goes a bit nuts on the air complaining about all the things listed above.  This of course causes his ratings to shoot up, but he still gets canned.  However, his producer (Faye Dunaway) sees a gold mine in this new attitude and gives Beale his own talk show.  Eventually, though the novelty of that wears off too, and Beale is actually shot on air by radicals (coincidence or horrible tragedy?).  The story is much more complex, with discussion of the ratings, the networks, the affiliates, advertisers, etc. but it basically boils down to the first "reality TV" gripping the nation before they realize that doesn't make for longevity in television.   To read a better and longer review, check out Nick's, over at Random Ramblings of Demented Doorknob.

1 comment:

Nick said...

Thanks for the plug!