Watch with us Monday, April 13: NETWORK
We’ve got another ahead-of-its-time social critique and another incredible library resource to highlight for you this week here on Movie Mondays: Safer at Home Edition–the Academy Award-winning classic Network (1976), streaming for free on Swank Digital Campus.
Directed by Sidney Lumet and written by Paddy Chayefsky, Network is a scathing rebuke of the increasingly money-driven world of television news in the 1970s that, 44 years later, feels as current as ever. Chayefsky’s Oscar-winning script (listed as one of the 10 greatest screenplays in the history of cinema by the Writers Guild of America) tells a complex and nuanced story about the fictional UBS network as it attempts to boost ratings by abandoning journalistic integrity in favor of sensationalized punditry. From dramatizing the transformation of news into an anxiety-entertainment-machine to depicting how relaxed regulations facilitate more and more concentrated corporate ownership of media empires (and along with that, a cauterizing of media discourse), Network stands out today as an eerily prescient predictor of the ways unfettered capitalism shapes our consumption of the news.
Though the satire is rather bleak, Lumet’s direction brings his signature humanism to the film, imbuing it with pathos and shaping powerhouse performances that led to three acting Oscars: Best Actress for Faye Dunaway, who plays the network’s workaholic head of programming Diana Christensen; Best Actor for Peter Finch as Howard Beale, the aging newsman who Diana shapes into the “Mad Prophet of the Airwaves” after he has a breakdown on live television; and Best Supporting Actress for Beatrice Straight, who steals her few scenes as Louise Schumacher, the scorned wife of the head of UBS’s news division.
While perhaps not the most uplifting movie to watch during these troubled times (I promise to give you a fun recommendation next week!), there’s definitely some humor to be found in Network. But more significantly, this canonical film is one-stop shopping to learn from myriad master craftspeople working at the top of their respective games. Plus there’s lots of beige. Beige is soothing, right?
Network is one of over two hundred films available to stream for free on Swank Digital Campus, available through the Library’s website with your LMU login. The streaming service aims to enhance your learning experience by providing access to a variety of Hollywood and indiewood movies ranging from the 1930s to today. Many big and/or recent titles offered through Swank Digital Campus, including Network, are only available as paid rentals or purchases on other streaming platforms, so you’ll definitely want to take advantage of this amazing resource!
With regular SFTV programs and events suspended through the end of the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our Movie Mondays program is moving from the Mayer Theater to the world wide web. Mondays from now through the end of the school year, SFTV’s Manager of Programs and Special Events Alice Royer will provide a film recommendation that you can stream at home, and highlight resources and platforms where you can find some of the best cinema the internet has to offer.