Network

Starring Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway and William Holden
Written By Paddy Chayefsky
Directed by Sidney Lumet
USA 1976
121 mins

Adaptations of classic movies are frequently to be found on the London stage - Network is currently enjoying a sell-out run at the National Theatre. Bryan Cranston (star of Breaking Bad) plays Howard Beale - a newscaster who breaks down on air in spectacular fashion only to  become an unlikely cult figure and media star.

In the original 1976 movie the British actor Peter Finch gives a mesmerising performance as the anchorman who rebels against the medium he works in and the society that it is a part of. Alongside him is a cast of some of the finest actors of the era including William Holden, Faye Dunaway and Robert Duvall playing various executives of a fictional network. Ruthless ambition pervades their world where the prize is success in the TV ratings - at any price.

The screenplay is by Paddy Chayevsky - one of the most gifted and darkly funny writers ever to have worked in pictures. Chayefsky's other scripts include Marty and The Hospital for both of which he won an Academy Award (as he did for Network). He remains the only person to have won three solo Oscars in that category. Many consider Network to be his masterpiece.

The director is Sidney Lumet, a giant of American cinema whose work includes Twelve Angry Men, Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon. Lumet began his career at the Actor's Studio in New York and continued in off Broadway productions and television. He was a notably humanitarian craftsman and made over 50 movies in his long and distinguished career.

Network won four Academy Awards and forty years on its sharp satire looks ever more  prescient in this age of fake news and corrupted media.

Gilda

Produced by Virginia Van Upp
Directed by Charles Vidor
USA 1946
110 mins

In our recent Christmas film quiz the clip that piqued the most interest was the sizzling rendition of 'Put The Blame On Mame' that is performed by Rita Hayworth in this classic film noir.
Hayworth, known as the 'Love Goddess',  was perhaps the most glamorous female star of the 1940s - the favourite pinup among GIs in World War 2 and married to among others Orson Welles and Prince Aly Khan. Born Rita Cansino, with a Spanish father and and Irish American mother, she was famed for her red hair and provocative, sensual style - both as an actress and a dancer. Hayworth was reportedly Fred Astaire's favourite dancing partner and achieved her greatest success opposite Gene Kelly in Cover Girl. In 'Gilda' she is a femme fatale mixed up in the shadowy world of night clubs and gambling in post-war Buenos Aires. Recently married to a casino owner Gilda runs into an old lover - the small time gambler Johnny Farrell played by Glenn Ford. She and Johnny have a love-hate relationship and, when he is assigned by her new husband to keep an eye on her, the sparks begin to fly. 'Gilda' was directed with great panache by Charles Vidor (not to be confused with King Vidor) and gorgeously shot by Rudolph Mate who knew how to photograph Hayworth to maximum effect. Her famous entrance, in which she whips her hair back to reveal a mischievous grin, is one of the most iconic in Hollywood history. Hayworth was dubbed by Anita Ellis in the two big singing numbers in the film but it is her voice that you hear when she performs a mesmerising  'unplugged' version of 'Mame' earlier in the film - accompanying herself on guitar.
 

Gilda: I've got some news for you, Johnny. I'm going to do exactly what I please, when I please. I was true to one man once...and look what happened