In one of his best interviews, Sidney Lumet discusses his directing style developed over 50 years of filmmaking including such noteworthy films as 12 Angry Men, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Dog Day Afternoon and Network. Due to the length of the interviews, they have been divided into chronological chapters for easier viewing. To view a chapter and see its full transcript, click on the thumbnails.
The cinematography concept of Network was wonderful and Owen Roizman carried it brilliantly. Since it was a film about corruption, we would corrupt the camera. There was a realistic look with William Holden and Peter Finch in the beginning, by the end of the movie it looked like a Ford commercial. It was so gorgeous, it looked like A Man and a Woman, we just gradually made the film look gorgeous. I never liked to see any of this happening. My objection to a lot of work is the stuff that draws attention to itself. I like to sit back and let it hit me. A lot of what I see that I don’t like is the stuff that draws attention to itself. In Network we stretched it over 2 hours so you never see it happening. The original ad for Network was one of the best ads I’ve ever seen. Manhattan skyline with TV cameras with Peter Finch on a cross. The copy said “The greatest story ever sold.” Great ad. Arthur Krim put up money. By the time picture came out all that was left was the lightning bolt. Literally. Just the lightning bolt. —Sidney Lumet
Network (1976) was written by Paddy Chayefsky (1923-1981). Chayefsky said he didn’t write the film as an attack on the television industry (“it’s not a brutal attack, maybe a murderous attack, but not brutal,” he laughs in the interview), he just described the world as he saw it around him. He wants to get a message across but if it happens it’ll be a bonus. First and foremost the story has to be entertaining. Chayefsky won the Oscar for Best Writing for Network. Howard Beale’s moving speech is timeless: the problems are as relevant today as they were when the film was made. —Script of the Week: Network
Below: the shooting script for Network. Howard Beale’s “Mad as Hell” speech was filmed on day 1. —via Dave Itzkoff
Another rarity from the archives: 1st draft of Network, 1st page: “This story is about Howard Beale…” —via Dave Itzkoff
Dear every screenwriter, read this: Paddy Chayefsky’s screenplay for Network [pdf]. (NOTE: For educational purposes only). The DVD/Blu-ray of the film is available at Amazon and other online retailers. Absolutely our highest recommendation.
Dave Itzkoff’s marvelous book Mad as Hell: The Making of Network and the Fateful Vision of the Angriest Man in Movies is a must-have on your shelf. Purchase your copy at Amazon.
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