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Network (SE)
DVD disk
Feb 28, 2006 By: Scott Weinberg
Network (SE) order
Director:
Sidney Lumet

Actors:
William Holden
Faye Dunaway
Robert Duvall

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A burnt-out and alcoholic anchorman announces (on the air) that in one week's time he'll commit suicide (on the air), thus beginning a media circus that threatens to bring down the entire network.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Is it a good movie? C'mon, kids. I know it's tough to reach down and rent a movie from 1976 when your local video store has 114 available copies of DOOM staring you right in the face ... but do yourself a favor and rent a copy of Sidney Lumet & Paddy Chayefsky's NETWORK, and then ask yourself this question: Is it a drama, a satire, or an astonishing feat of cinematic prognoatication?

NETWORK is all those things, and a whole lot more: It's dark and ballsy, sad and scary, hilarious and sobering, often all at the same time. Rare is the social satire that rings as true as NETWORK does, and the film is even MORE topical today than it was thirty years ago.

Take the simple concept of "hey, let's put a raving lunatic on live TV and see what happens," and then follow it through to its most colorful conclusion, and that's pretty much what happens throughout the course of NETWORK. This movie is a pitch-perfect example of a brilliant writer (Paddy Chayefsky) and a master director (Sidney Lumet) collaborating at the top of their game. And this cast!

William Holden is the lone piece of humanity in an industry run amok; Faye Dunaway is the young executive so obsessed with success that she almost seems robotic; Robert Duvall is the raucous and noxious corporate exec who looks at the evening news and sees nothing but lost capital; and, of course, there's Peter Finch, the celebrated Australian actor who'll always be remembered as the guy who screamed "I'm as mad as hell ... and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

When you're talking about the best "smart comedies" ever made, NETWORK ranks right up there in the top 10. It works as a venomous satire, a straight-faced farce, and a startling wake-up call, all at the same time. How this flick lost the Best Picture Oscar to Stallone's ROCKY is a mystery for the ages ... and this is coming from a lifelong Philadelphian & Rocky Balboa fan.

THE EXTRAS
Disc 1 contains only two goodies: the original theatrical trailer and a really fantastic audio commentary with director Sidney Lumet. I don't know when this track was recorded, but Mr. Lumet has got to be over 80 by now, and his anecdotes and insights on the film are warm, informative, and honest.

Disc 2 houses a killer 6-part documentary called The Making of NETWORK, which is broken down as follows:

The World and Words of Paddy Chayefsky (11:14)
The Cast, The Characters (13:22)
Mad as Hell! The Creation of a Movie Movement (7:29)
The Experience (25:03)
The Style (17:17)
By Walter Cronkite (9:46)

Taken as a whole or chapter-by-chapter, this is an excellent treat for the NETWORK fans. Interview subjects include director Sidney Lumet, producer Howard Gottfried, editor Alan Heim, cinematographer Owen Roitzman, production designer Philip Rosenberg, and actors Ned Beatty, Kathy Cronkite, Faye Dunaway, and Lance Henriksen. (Yep, Lance Henriksen was in NETWORK!)

Also included is Dinah! with Paddy Chayefsky, a 14-minute segment with the celebrated author as his lays down some television truth on Dinah Shore's daytime talk show.

Private Screenings with Sidney Lumet is a fantastic 54-minute sit-down between the legendary director and Turner Classic Movie host Robert Osborne.

FINAL DIAGNOSIS
All by itself, this classic movie deserves a spot in anyone's DVD collection, but between the commentary, the feature-length doco, the archival talk show appearance, and the hour-long interview piece, NETWORK makes my short list for one of the top ten DVDs of 2006.
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