November 30, 1976 [Network]

Some old hands here in Network--especially Sidney Lumet, directing for a long time, all the way back to You Are There and The Alcoa Hour; and William Holden--was he really Joe Bonaparte in Golden Boy back in the late '30s, before Sunset Blvd. and Born Yesterday and Stalag 17 and a guest-spot on I Love Lucy, watching her putty nose catch on fire--you can see it on rerun even now--let alone The Wild Bunch, reminding us not only of the long-gone West but of his own past? He's doing that again in Network, making us see what's been lost as he kneads Faye Dunaway's white white skin and makes more mistakes any way he can.

As a satire of TV, the movie doesn't push any further than Harlan Ellison's The Glass Teat--except for the almost-SF alternate-universe programming decisions--but they're only slightly more cynical than The Price Is Right or Hee Haw in their estimation of their audience. Even Peter Finch's pop-eyed impression of Charlton Heston's Moses, as monumental as it is, pales before the simple sight of Holden broke in two like a stale loaf of bread, the last pleasant memory of our friend the TV gutted by folks who helped build it, then hated themselves later--oh, they'll tell us it's TV they hate, but the violence of Network turns inward, no matter the incursions of actuality, the on-camera snuff-outs, the fatal seizures.

And in the end, it's just business, so who's to complain? Well, the gadflies nip and goad, but the big dumb junk-wagon horse just flicks its tail and shivers its flank and clip-clops along, kids following it up and down the street.


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