The Paddy Chayefsky-scripted film, which earned 10 Oscar nominations, now seems like an amazingly dead-on dissection of where television was headed. But it wasn’t always so.
”People called Network a satire. And we would say, ‘No, it’s not a satire, it’s sheer reportage.’ Well, we haven’t killed anybody on the air yet. Yet! I thought it was important to get someone as close to Walter Cronkite as you could get to play Howard Beale. We thought about Gregory Peck. Then Peter Finch said he had gotten a copy of the script and wanted to do it. Paddy was delighted, but the foreignness of him bothered me. [Finch, who died two months before the 1977 Oscar ceremony, was a Brit.] Then Peter asked if I would send him a copy of The New York Times and he would read it into a tape recorder and send me the tape. It was perfect. There was no trace of an accent. It’s embarrassing that Rocky beat us out. Chayefsky was so prescient. Everyone was saying we were going to take it all. And on the flight out to L.A., he said, ‘Rocky‘s going to take Best Picture.’ And I said, ‘No, no, it’s a dopey little movie.’ And he said, ‘It’s just the sort of sentimental crap they love out there.’ And he was right.”
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THE STRAIGHT STORY (1999)
In David Lynch’s gentlest movie, a dying WWII veteran (the majestic Richard Farnsworth) is so determined to make peace with his estranged brother that he travels to see him across state lines on a riding lawnmower.