How "Network" Predicted Today's Media Culture

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A famous scene from the 1976 film "Network" in which Howard Beale (played by Peter Finch) explodes with rage. (United Artists)

"Network," the 1976 film directed by Sidney Lumet that starred Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, and Robert Duvall, won four Academy Awards in 1976.

Since then, the film has made its way into the legion of all-time greats. It was inducted into the Producers Guild Hall of Fame, selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, and was picked as one of the 100 greatest-ever films by the American Film Institute.

But looming larger than any of these accolades is the lasting statement the film made about the television industry and screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky's apparent ability to see into the future of the media.

Dave Itzkoff, culture reporter for our partner The New York Times, is author of a new book on the classic film. It's called “Mad As Hell: The Making of Network and the Fateful Vision of the Angriest Man in Movies.” He joins The Takeaway to explain how this film looked into the future.


Dave Itzkoff

Produced by:

Mythili Rao


T.J. Raphael

Comments [7]

Robert Thomas Doran

Since you asked, take a look at my book: A Prison of Lies - A Journey Through Madness. Just skim the website:

Feb. 25 2014 12:50 PM
Scott Stickley from Sea Cliff, New York

Don't forget Paddy Chayefsky's 1971 movie "Hospital" , directed by Arthur Hiller, featuring a frustrated middle age Doctor played by George C. Scott and his haphazard relationship with the daughter of a dying patient played by Diana Rigg.
I saw it in the theatre as a kid in Eugene Oregon, and it certainly was as forward looking as Network in regards to the mixed-up health care that is America then and now. Famous line from Scott, "We heal nothing"

Feb. 18 2014 04:19 PM
Nobuski from NYC

"I'm as mad as Hell...and I'm not going Tweet anymore!"
You can see my blog on this here: nobuski fot com.

Feb. 18 2014 03:09 PM

Funny to hear this on the radio just now. I made this take on the tirade some time ago.
your sustainer, Luke

Feb. 18 2014 12:11 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

I have come to believe that the stories our greatest futurist satirists write like Chayefsky, Phillip K. Dick, and J.G. Ballard, are used as blueprints for our actual future.

I'm gonna go write some crazy fun stuff about the future and hopefully die before it actually comes true.
Be seeing you.

Feb. 18 2014 11:19 AM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Quick, someone photo-shop John Hockenberry's face over Peter Finch's.

Feb. 18 2014 11:13 AM
Oliver from Brooklyn

Idea for thesis: compare these three films -- "Meet John Doe," "A Face in the Crowd" & "Network.' Each deal with the media and an unseen hand manipulating the masses for profit and, perhaps more important, power using a dupe to do their dirty work.

Feb. 18 2014 09:56 AM

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