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August 1, 2014

Five great movies about TV

by Paul Goebel, posted Sep 18th 2007 9:02AM

Peter O'Toole as Lyle SwannAs an avid TV fan, I love it when somebody makes a movie all about the television industry. Since I'm not a movie critic, the cinema is pure entertainment for me. Unfortunately, too often the movies make the mistake of romanticizing the world of television like they do everything else. Here is my personal list of those that got it right.

My Favorite Year
From what I understand, not only is the setting for this film taken straight from Your Show of Shows but the characters are dead on representations of Sid Caesar and others who made the show happen. The movie contains what is probably Peter O'Toole's best comedic performance and an amazing supporting cast featuring Bill Macy, Lanie Kazan, and Joe Bologna.

Good Night and Good Luck
Simply put, it is a history lesson on film. The movie gives an accurate and entertaining portrayal of the McCarthy era. The acting is superb and George Clooney's directing shows a true love for the medium that made him a star. I understand that test audiences all wanted to know who played Joe McCarthy.

Quiz Show
While Robert Redford has admitted that he took some liberties, the film beautifully tells the story of the Quiz Show scandals. The best part of the film is the overpowering attitude of cynicism summed up by the one line, "I thought we were going to get TV, but TV got us." I was heartbroken to learn that the only one who really suffered from the entire scandal was Charles Van Doren.

Network
Anyone who has ever been "mad as hell." can identify with this movie. Before it became cool to show the cold. business side of television, Network showed us more than we ever wanted to see.

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
I'm the first to admit that this movie has its flaws but ignoring the nonsense about Chuck Barris being an assassin it tells a great story of how his love for TV and innate talent to make hit shows eventually became his downfall. I never thought I would feel pity for the guy who hosted The Gong Show.

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Galley

Another vote for "UHF".

September 19 2007 at 8:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tammy

My Favorite Year is one of my favorite movies. I just re-rented it recently so I could see it again. I think Peter O'Toole is fantastic in it. Yes, the characters are based on Errol Flynn and Mel Brooks.

Broadcast News would be another choice of mine. I have seen that many times and I adore Holly Hunter in it.

September 18 2007 at 11:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bob keck

Network. Faye Dunaway is always crazy but she's good crazy here.

September 18 2007 at 8:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ech

The movie gives an accurate and entertaining portrayal of the McCarthy era.

The history is only semi-accurate. McCarthy was imploding well before Murrow got ahold of him.

September 18 2007 at 6:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mel

I've never seen any of these movies before (I'm too busy watching television, of course), but I would add UHF. Not too sure how accurate it is, but sure was a lot of fun. Who wouldn't want to watch Wheel of Fish or visit Spatula City?

September 18 2007 at 5:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Karen

@3--Yes, Errol Flynn is the inspiration for Peter O'Toole's character. And Mark Linn-Baker stands in for the young Mel Brooks.

September 18 2007 at 2:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jonathan Toomey

I'd throw in "The China Syndrome" for it's portrayal of TV news and also "A Face in the Crowd." Andy Griffith is great to watch as the TV and media transform him.

September 18 2007 at 1:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
xvertigenx

Quiz show is a simply fantastic movie. Amazing acting and script. One of my all-time faves for sure!

September 18 2007 at 1:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Allison

One of my favorite TV-based movies is "The Truman Show".

September 18 2007 at 12:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Akbar Fazil

UHF.

No movie has represented the common mans plight to use the public airwaves from the oppressors of the FCC and Corporate Funded Broadcasters.

Or something like that.

September 18 2007 at 11:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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