Network

The life and career of long-serving news anchor Howard Beale (Peter Finch) has taken a downward slide recently after his wife left him and he sank into drink, and his once high ratings have fallen to the point where his network, UBS, is forced to let him go. After being told he has just 2 weeks left on the air Howard broadcasts that in a week he will kill himself, live and during his show. Understandably he is immediately taken off the air by Frank Hackett (Robert Duvall), a rising executive surreptitiously taking over UBS from the inside, however Howard’s best friend and manager Max Schumacher (William Holden) is able to allow Howard one last show, for a chance at a dignified farewell, which Howard takes and runs with, instead offering up some frank and hard truths the general public eats up. Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway), UBS’ new head of programming, sees potential in Howard’s popularity, and adapts his news show to suit, but what is more the important, the ratings or their host’s sanity?
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Dog Day Afternoon

Based on a true story, Sidney Lumet’s tale of two inept criminals (Al Pacino and John Cazale reuniting after the Godfather 1 & 2) whose attempted robbery of a Brooklyn bank descends into chaos once the police, the media and the general public get wind of their plans. Pacino gives arguably one of his best performances – without resorting to ‘shouty Al’ – as he struggles to handle a situation completely out of his control, that is only ever going to become more so, and it’s refreshing to see a heist film with a couple of average Joes doing the robbing, as unlike Ocean’s Eleven or Inside Man, these guys have no plan, no masks, hell they even use their real names. Lumet excels when restricted to small locations (see 12 Angry Men), and here is no different, with almost the entire film taking place in and around the bank, as Pacino’s Sonny becomes a hit with the crowds gathering around the crime scene. Heading straight into the plot – Lumet rarely bothers with much initial back story – the direction is tight and entirely to the point, as every scene helps to progress the story further, or reveals a character detail previously unknown. There are some nice comedic touches – a bank teller hostage receives a call from her husband, asking what time she thinks she will be finished there, and when Sonny asks Cazale’s borderline psychotic Sal what country he wants to flee to, Sal replies “Wyoming,” and look out for Lance Henrikssen as FBI agent Murphy in one of his first film roles.

Choose film 8/10

The King’s Speech/12 Angry Men

I’m still working on the full list, its quite long so may take a while to sort through any duplications, but suffice to say I’m thinking I’ve bitten off slightly more than I can chew, as I haven’t heard of many of the 1001 Films to See Before You Die, let alone seen.

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