William Holden received his third and final Oscar nomination for portraying Max Schumacher in Network.
Network is a very interesting film, and is incredibly well done in certain aspects. There are a few problems I have in the film, some of the things are a little too hard to believe, and the aspects involving the communist and terrorist groups kind of went from satire to farce.
William Holden plays Max Schumacher, an aged news president who does not like the changing way of the network, and is one of the few normalish people in the film. The only person who is truly human is Schumacher's wife, but Schumacher is closest to a normal human after her. Holden therefore does not constantly go over the top, and instead Holden is one of the few performance in the film that is mostly understated. He does a fine job of internalizing his feelings at times, although still letting the audience know them, without yelling, although he does that too.
Holden gives mostly a reactionary role. He always is reacting to basically the craziness of almost all the other character. Holden though does speak out on occasion and he does this well. He always shows that Schumacher really cannot stand the new nature of people, and the loss of humanity of the people. His last two speeches to Fay Dunaway's character are brilliant done by Holden and these scenes are the strongest moments in his performance. The way Holden really uses his own age and face to show that Schumacher sees that he is closer to being dead than alive is completely brilliant on his part, on the fact that Sideny Lumet used that too. His performance certainly is strong, and good, but I did feel his role was a bit limited in some ways.
He seemed slightly limited in that he had either one type of reaction of sad disbelief or the other of yelling back about his older age or about the lack of humanity in people. But these two reactions are always correct when he does them. I do not have a single problem with Holden's performance though, and he certainly was strong throughout the film. I do not think Holden does a single thing wrong in this performance, but I did feel he could have done a lot more if he was given more screen time and more to do. His character had a purpose and Holden served it but in the end his role did become a bit thankless at time since he went away completely from the films at times, and stopped being involved with the network at all. I wish he had one more scene with Howard Beale, or with Frank Hackett to be involved with the network more time, but Holden still is always good in the film, and still gives a strong performance.