Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
USA, 1976. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Screenplay by Paddy Chayefsky. Cinematography by Owen Roizman. Produced by Howard Gottfried. Music by Elliot Lawrence. Production Design by Philip Rosenberg. Costume Design by Theoni V. Aldredge. Film Editing by Alan Heim. Academy Awards 1976. Golden Globe Awards 1976. National Board of Review Awards 1976. New York Film Critics Awards 1976.
Riveting look at television news media, starring Peter Finch as an anchorman whose waning ratings prompt his bosses to fire him. His reaction is to have a complete meltdown and go mad in public, with his televised ranting becoming so newsworthy that his network decides to exploit him for all the ratings he’s worth. Faye Dunaway is terrific as a heartless TV exec for whom the bottom line is getting more advertising dollars no matter what the cost, and Paddy Chayefsky’s screenplay brilliantly charts the development of television into a corporate commodity without a conscience. Sidney Lumet gives it his usual hard hitting direction, and the fantastic cast is rounded out by strong performances from William Holden, Ned Beatty and Beatrice Straight (who is really good, but to win an Oscar for one scene is still a bit fantastic even twenty years later). The scary part is how funny it is for its time, and how much it is no longer a satire.