“What fantastic balls.” Great God, nowadays Eisner’s Coke machine is a relief, since Congress gave the axe to television in the name of Public Safety, thereby ratifying the Secretary of State’s Army brat.
Here is the heart and soul of television on its deathbed, home shopping, the viewer connected directly to the shill without adjunct of art.
Hitchcock thus skewered receives benefit of clergy from a thoughtful fakir who has not much truck with gimcrack, whatever else may be his virtues.
Robert Loggia takes top honors here for his Network chairman with a heart of plated gold, neck and neck with Jeff Goldblum as the profound hack, Kelly Preston with a sheepskin, Eddie Murphy in the title role as the man with a commercial mystique, Nino Cerruti as the genuine article and Jon Cryer the perfect toady.
We have all met Goldblum’s character, the wheeler-dealer on a sinking ship, and we all went to school with Preston’s, wired scholarships behind a smirk. Murphy’s is a holy man with reference to the whole megillah, whereas Loggia’s is the ballbuster who gives no shrift whatsoever.
The fabric of a plot solution arises as a necessity of form atop the vat of raw elements. A thoroughly professional television studio broadcasting nothing at all witnesses an essential conjunction, the alchemical properties of which propel the medium into truth and beauty.
Which is where we came in. The great moment is from Ellery Queen (“The Adventure of the Hard-Hearted Huckster”), when the guru G. moves from set to set in the studio, live, exposing the nature of things on the airwaves.
The profound realization (turn off your sets, folks, save our plasma for our troops overseas) is a structure derived from Columbo: Make Me a Perfect Murder, and at another angle, Donner’s Scrooged.
Hacks and flacks are taken for granted, monsters patrol the corridors of power, there is no sagacity but the regularly-interrupted program schedule. Capra’s Meet John Doe is called in for an exposť that doesn’t come off. Come on, it’s the Good Buy Shopping Network, Barry Diller used to run Paramount for Christ’s sake.
Kazan exposes the really big cheese in the end per A Face in the Crowd.