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William C. Altreuter
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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Before she departed for her summer in the Adirondacks I proposed watching Network to LCA. She didn't get far with it, so we moved on, but it kinda grabbed me, so I went back to it last night. It mostly holds up, although not quite in the way I'd expected. Even in the waning days of the Ford Administration I think everyone recognized that it was over the top, but it was such a fat, juicy subject that who could blame Paddy Chayefsky for trying to stuff as much into the screenplay as he could? Of course the outrageous programs that Diana Christensen (a Mizzou grad in the movie) concocts seem plausible today -- they seemed almost plausible then. She'd have understood Jersey Shore immediately. Where it loses its way today is the melodrama, and even that comes close to still working. Faye Dunaway-- what an interesting looking woman. (Best Actress for this.) She's smoking hot in this, and she manages it with complete restraint. Robert Duval and William Holden can chew scenery with the best, but they can also accomplish amazing stuff with a cocked eyebrow or a palm across the forehead. Peter Finch won Best Actor for his performance (posthumously) but his is really the least interesting character-- it would be a better movie if it stuck with his torment, but he quickly becomes two dimensional, and the movie suffers for it. Rocky won Best Picture that year, beating not only Network, but also All the President's Men, Bound for Glory, and Taxi Driver. Funny field, when you think about it-- only Taxi Driver really endures. It seems like 1976 was sort of an off year. I'd be hard-pressed to come up with a better roster of nominees, although I suppose I should go back and revisit Missouri Breaks.

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