By Dan Skip Allen
Broadcast News isn't the first film or the last that deals with the nightly news, whether local news or national news. Aaron Sorkin did a great job with The Newsroom for two seasons on HBO, Apple TV+ has The Morning Show, which is a big hit, and Network won four Academy Awards for Peter Finch (posthumously), Faye Dunaway, and two others. Broadcast News is a more in-depth film about the interworking of a news network and news broadcasting.
Jane Craig (Holly Hunter) is a high-strung new producer in Washington DC. She has the drive to succeed in her field but lets romance get in the way of her career. A fresh new anchorman, Tom Grunick (William Hurt), is hired, and she falls madly in love with him even though he's not good for her. Another co-worker, Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks), is unbeknownst to her, infatuated with her. She has to balance her love life and her career.
William Hurt is a very prolific actor, even winning an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his role as Luis Molina for Kiss of the Spider Woman in 1986. He played General "Thunderbolt" Ross for many years in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the father of Betty Ross. He starred opposite Marlee Matlin in Children of a Lesser God and the erotic thriller Body Heat. Tom Grunick in Broadcast News might be his most complex role ever. He is trying to woo Jane while also building his career as a news anchor. His character has multiple layers to him. This is what made Hurt such a prolific actor for forty years: his ability to create layered and complex characters studies with each performance
Holly Hunter won an Academy Award for the Jane Campion classic The Piano in 1993. She has played everything from an animated Elastigirl in The Incredibles to a sexually active policewoman in Raising Arizona. She is an outstanding actress who brings power and reverence to her roles. She has been in many fantastic films and tv shows, but her feisty, know-it-all character in this film might be her best. She has to control everything, even going as far as telling the cab drivers how to get from place to place while riding with them. She even has to manipulate her love life to the tiniest detail.
Broadcast News is an in-depth look at the television news industry and how this industry can be very good at times and toxic at others. The cutthroat nature of it is very fascinating. James L. Brooks tries to balance the hard-nosed news angle with a romantic comedy. It works perfectly. The characters he focuses on are nuanced and interesting to follow for two hours. This is an interesting look at career choices versus one personal life. And sometimes, none of it is in their hands.
The film focuses on three main characters and has an excellent supporting cast to complement them. Jack Nicholson plays the station's anchor and is a nice addition to the film. It gives the film clout with his name attached. Joan Cusack (School of Rock) plays an assistant editor in the newsroom, and Robert Prosky (The Natural) plays the producer of the news before handing the job off to Jane. He gives some nice advice to her and brings some gravitas to the film as the veteran producer. Everyone does a great job complimenting the three leads.
Broadcast News is a film with a great look at a news station's inner workings and the people who work within it. Each day's news is the biggest thing and how the reporters are looking for the next big story. The romantic angle is another whole thing, though. This film is well directed, but it's the story and cast that make it a great movie.
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