Thirty-five years ago, a controversial film captured the zeitgeist. It was a heavily dialogue-driven indictment of a powerful new medium that was influencing people’s views of the world. It also had the word “network” in the title although, unlike The Social Network, it was about television. Directed by the late Sidney Lumet and written by the great Paddy Chayefsky, Network is one of the seminal films of the 1970s. It has been selected by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant", in addition to being named one of the American Film Institute’s Top 100 American films of all time.
Network is about a fictional fourth-place television network called UBS that has been lagging far behind the major “big three” networks. Fox had not yet come into being at that time, but its antics and shocking, controversial choice of programs before it became household-friendly with American Idol and Glee closely echoed the fictional stunts on Network. One wonders if Rupert Murdoch intended this to happen or if it were merely delicious coincidence.
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Diana, who is described as being “raised on Bugs Bunny”, pursues Max, the film’s conscience, and woos him away even though he has a wife and grown daughter. She’s so focused on business that while they make love, she is still busy talking about her business plan: the world’s first “homosexual soap opera, "The Dykes”.
Network is also noted for Beatrice Straight’s performance as Max’s scorned wife, on note as the shortest Oscar-winning role in history. It lasts barely six minutes in its entirety, most of which is contained in this one scene, but every last second of it remains overwhelmingly powerful.