I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this any more!

Network movie posterThis week we’re plunged back into the seventies with Network, a satire on the ruthlessness of TV executives. Anchorman Howard Beale (Peter Finch) is unceremoniously ‘retired’ after the ratings on his news show dip, then threatens to kill himself live on air. After an unexpected rise in Howard’s ratings, the ruthless TV bosses decide to capitalise on his breakdown by giving him a new show…

I’d never even heard of Network before Ian suggested we do it for the podcast a few weeks back. In the way of these things though, as soon as I found out about it I started seeing references to it everywhere – it’s even referenced in the new Alan Partridge film. It was also a massive deal when it was released – Network was a huge hit in 1976 and won an unprecedented 3 out of the 4 Oscars for acting (and it was only pipped to the post for Best Picture by Rocky).

So why had I never heard of it until now? Well, for a start, it rarely gets shown on TV (unlike its rival Rocky), and in some ways it’s aged badly. The film couldn’t be more seventies if it tried – all wide lapels and even wider trousers, set against a background of current affairs stories such as the oil crisis and the Patty Hearst kidnapping. It dates the film a little, but it also gives you a great feel for the seventies as a period, highlighting the important stories of the time and the frazzled mood of the US nation. (We watched Kentucky Fried Movie the other day and that also provided a brilliant snapshot of life in the seventies, but in a much more boob-and-kung-fu-heavy kind of way).

Despite its seventiesness though, Network is remarkably current in terms of its themes, and prescient in terms of its depiction of manipulation by the mass media. As Ian points out in the podcast, the film’s only mistake is that it thinks TV audiences only want to watch ordinary people if they’re terrorists or oddjobs, when in fact reality TV has shown that people will happily watch pretty much anyone doing anything.

All in all Network is a pretty decent film that’s buoyed by stunning performances from its all-star cast of Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway, William Holden and Robert Duvall, but it’s slightly let down by uneven tone and pacing, and a slightly garbled denouement.

Last but not least, our Secret Sponsor for this week is Get Reel (@GetReel) – check out their fantastic website over at http://www.get-reel.net.

If our review has piqued your interest in the film, you can buy the Network DVD from Amazon by clicking here (and we get a little bit of cash if you do – thanks in advance).

Anyway, without further ado, let us present our feature presentation:

Click here to download and listen on your MP3 player of choice:

101 Films Podcast 053 – Network

Click below to subscribe on iTunes, join our RSS feed or follow us on Facebook and Twitter:

We’d love to hear your own film recommendations – please get in touch at 101filmsyoushouldhaveseen@gmail.com or leave a comment on the blog. Feel free to say nice things about us on iTunes!

Director: Sidney Lumet Year of release: 1976 Studio/Distributor: MGM/United Artists Country: USA

Podcast 053: Network

This week we dive back into the seventies with the multi-Oscar-winning Network, a disturbingly prescient satire of the ruthlessness of TV executives.

101 Films Podcast 053 – Network

The stars are ageless, aren’t they?

SunsetBoulevardfilmposterLos Angeles and Hollywood. La-la land itself. A city of hopes and dreams, crushed ambitions and empty promises. Despite being firmly Noo York guys in the battle of the big American cities, even Lewis and I can’t help but be seduced by its shallow glamour. If we weren’t so dedicated to this podcast we would’ve long ago jumped on a greyhound bus and headed to LA to become stars (I’m guessing you can get a bus to LA from Victoria Coach Station?).

Of course modern Hollywood has nothing on the Holly wood of old: that’s when you had REAL scandals. This week we take a trip back to that sleazy LA with Sunset Boulevard.

A recommendation of Lewis and listener Conor Barrett, Sunset Boulevard follows down-on-his-luck writer Joe Gillis, played by William Holden, as he writes a screenplay for forgotten silent-film star Norma Desmond, played by Gloria Swanson. Slowly Joe is drawn into Norma’s life, unable to escape her self-delusion and bitterness.

The director Billy Wilder manages to create a Hollywood film that successfully confronts the dark side of Tinsel Town, showing what fame can do to you and, even worse, what happens when that fame fades. Swanson, a star of silent films herself back in the 10s and 20s, gives the performance of a lifetime as Norma. In many ways it’s an over the top performance, but it’s always believable.

Our Secret Sponsor for this week is Forgotten Films: you can find them on Twitter (@forgottenfilmz) or check out their site at www.forgottenfilmcast.wordpress.com.

If our review has piqued your interest in the film, you can buy the Sunset Boulevard DVD from Amazon by clicking here (and we get a little bit of cash if you do – thanks in advance)

Anyway, without further ado, let us present our feature presentation:

Click here to download and listen on your MP3 player of choice:

101 Films Podcast 049 – Sunset Boulevard

Click below to subscribe on iTunes, join our RSS feed or follow us on Facebook and Twitter:

We’d love to hear your own film recommendations – please get in touch at 101filmsyoushouldhaveseen@gmail.com or leave a comment on the blog. Feel free to say nice things about us on iTunes!

Director: Billy Wilder Year of release: 1950 Studio/Distributor: Paramount Pictures Country: USA