Network (1976) Screenplay Analysis

Network (1976), written by Paddy Chayefsky, is a classic film with strong messages critical of society… I think. Let’s jump right into the script.

Script Formatting Notes

  • Draft Read: Undated
  • Type: Shooting
  • Page Count: 120
  • Reading Speed: Medium
  • Setting(s): NYC, LA
  • Plot Structure: Linear, Spanning multiple months
  • Genre(s): Thriller, Satire
  • Theme(s): Consumerism, Love, Mental Illness, Capitalism, Communism
  • Protagonist Change: None (debatable)

Overall Thoughts

What a weird script. One that I most definitely don’t feel qualified to overly analyze. Quite frankly, I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore. Because what is the message from this script? Society sucks? Money trumps all? Love is dead? People are dumb? I have no idea.

Script Strengths

Sometimes you can tell when a script is well-written. A few that come to mind are The King’s Speech (2010), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), and Butter (2011). Then there are those scripts which may be well-written, but you aren’t quite sure because they are over the top (cough, The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)). Then there are scripts that seem like the writers of the Eric Andre show took their turn at writing a screenplay and it’s just straight bananas. This script it somewhere between Banshees and bananas.

This script was obviously written by a great. Every time it felt like it was becoming overwritten it made fun of itself. Here’s an example on Page 86:


…And, my God!, look at us, Louise. here we are going through the obligatory middle-of-Act-Two scorned wife throws peccant husband out scene.

Okay, great, so the writer obviously gets that this script is over the top. But it also has it’s funny moments. It has great characters. Howard Beale is downright crazy. In fact, I’m not even sure why the writer deemed his hallucination necessary on Page 52, because we know he’s nuts from his first broadcast.

The script does a great job of criticizing society using creative methods. Most obviously, the juxtaposition of using Beale (the crazy one) to directly share the most straightforward critique of society allows the writer ample space to get the main messages across with straight exposition and talking down to the audience.

Script Neutrals

How about this overwritten action line (Page 89)

Groping, grasping, gasping and fondling, they contrive to denude each other, and in a fever of sexual hunger, Diana mounts Max, and the SCREEN is filled with the voluptuous writings of love, Diana crying out with increasing exultancy.

Nothing more to say there.

Script Weaknesses

Some scripts age well, others don’t. This one doesn’t, for too many reasons to list. But even though the script is dated, the messages, in regard to consumerism, greed, power, ethics, morally bankrupt business leaders, and so forth, remain just as relevant today as I assume they were in 1975.


A newscorp keeps an insane newscaster on the air to make money. Basically, the story of late-stage capitalism, if you choose to believe in it or not. The script feels a lot more in your face than ones that came out even a decade or so earlier (ex. The Apartment (1960). It’s intense, thrilling and of course, over the top.


The two characters that I just couldn’t connect with were Max Schumacher, an exec and friend of Howard, and Diana Christensen, Max’s replacement (If I recall correctly). In reality, they more so represent certain stereotypes; Diana the emotionally unavailable workaholic and Max, the caring but out of his depth executive.

Regardless, each member of the ensemble cast was well-designed and placed together in (literally) stuffy rooms at ideal moments to create lots of conflict.

Dialogue & Pacing

So many great lines. Here’s a snippet from a great back-and-forth (Page 71) after Diana passionately shares her new idea for a T.V. show:


That may be the most fantastic idea I’ve heard in years.




And a shameless steal from a movie called “Death Wish.”

Emotional Impact

It’s tricky to judge the emotional impact of this script. Certainly, it resulted in a popular film, even if it’s hardly mentioned these days. And it’s equally difficult to pin down the audience it would most connect with. Certainly, the limousine liberals could love it, if they viewed it. But the common man? I’m not sure. It’s a tad too depressing, too real and convoluted. Worth noting, there are many characters presented in each scene. This made reading the screenplay mentally straining i.e. cognitive overload, but would be much easier to visualize on the screen.

Best Part of The Script

Howard’s opening address. Start on Page 8. In reality, any of Howard’s monologues straddle the line of absurd and hilarious, perhaps funny only because of how accurate their core messages are.