Network | 1976
- DIRECTOR |
- Sidney Lumet
Paddy Chayevsky’s blisteringly satirical skewering of US TV gets a great Sidney Lumet treatment, and earned a posthumous Best Actor Oscar for Peter Finch as newsreader Howard Beale, the Mad Prophet of the Airwaves. The script has proved perceptive enough that over 40 years after the film's release, it was adapted by Lee Hall with huge success for the stage at London's National Theatre in 2017, with Bryan Cranston as Beale.
It's set in New York, but the interior of the fictitious 'UBS' TV station is CFTO-TV Studios (Canada's Foremost Toronto's Own), at 9 Channel Nine Court, off the Ontario Hwy 401 in the Agincourt neighbourhood northeast of Toronto.
The studio exterior had to be New York – it's the MGM Building, 1350 6th Avenue / Avenue of the Americas at 55th Street in Midtown Manhattan.
The apartment of veteran TV exec Max Schumacher (William Holden) and his long-suffering wife Louise (Beatrice Straight) was filmed in the Apthorp Apartments, 2211 Broadway between West 78th and West 79th Streets on the West Side. Beatrice Straight worked on the film for only a couple of days and her brief scene came close to being cut from the film completely. In the end, Lumet simply moved the scene, and Straight's five-minute-and-two-second appearance won her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.
The Apthorp is quite the media person's hangout – occupants of the block have included Douglas Fairbanks Sr, Al Pacino, Nora Ephron and Catch-22 author Joseph Heller. The Apthorp is also featured in Francis Ford Coppola's The Cotton Club, Richard Benjamin's 1986 The Money Pit, with Tom Hanks, and Peter Yates's 1981 thriller Eyewitness, with William Hurt and Sigourney Weaver.
Max and ambitious producer Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway) meet up at showbizzy hangout Elaine’s Restaurant, which stood at 1703 Second Avenue between East 88th and East 89th Streets on the East Side, famous for having appeared in such Woody Allen films as Manhattan, Manhattan Murder Mystery and Celebrity. After the death of owner Elaine Kaufman in 2010, the NY institution struggled on for a few months but finally closed its doors in 2011. It's now The Writing Room.
The funeral of station head Ruddy is held at Congregation Rodeph Sholom Synagogue, 7 West 83rd Street, at Central Park West on the West Side, outside which Max rekindles the affair with Diana.
The couple spends a weekend at the Sea Spray Inn, which stood near east of Ocean Avenue in East Hampton on the coast of Long Island. It was originally built in 1888 on Main Street and moved to the dunes in 1902. In 1978, the Inn itself burned down, though its cottages remain.
The effusive 'UBS Affiliates Meeting' which recognises Diana's contribution is held in the Ballroom of the Plaza Hotel, Fifth Avenue at 59th Street. The 19-story landmark was built in 1907 and the list of jawdropping features begins with the 1,650 crystal chandeliers.
Other movies featuring the Plaza include Alfred Hitchcock's North By Northwest, Arthur, Barefoot In The Park, Sleepless In Seattle, Home Alone II, The Cotton Club, “Crocodile” Dundee, Funny Girl, The Great Gatsby, King of New York, Plaza Suite (naturally) and The Way We Were.
The office to which Beale, after putting the station’s financial security in jeopardy, is invited to get an apocalyptic lecture from station boss Arthur Jensen (Ned Beatty) is the New York Public Library, Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd Streets.