When longstanding TV news anchor Howard Beale (Peter Finch) learns from his producer/best friend (William Holden) that he will be replaced at his post due to sagging ratings, he announces on live television that he will commit suicide during an upcoming broadcast and goes on a tirade on the state of the industry and the state of affairs in general. With ratings at an all-time high, the studio turns the crisis into an opportunity and seeks to promote "The Mad Prophet of the Airwaves." Sidney Lumet's masterful indictment of both the morally bankrupt and boundless television news industry and the audiences who soak it up is an illustrious production firing on all cylinders beginning with a brilliant, caustic, satirical, and shockingly prescient (as most viewers will point out) Paddy Chayefsky screenplay. The story centers around Finch's mad, showy, dazzling, Oscar winning performance but Holden's worn and weary news producer captures the heart of the film. Additionally, Faye Dunaway (also an Oscar winner) as the soulless, ladder climbing executive, Robert Duvall as the ruthless axeman, the jilted, sobering Beatrice Straight (who took home yet another acting trophy), and Ned Beatty as the bizarre, evangelistic corporate chairman round out the uniformly excellent cast.
**** out of ****