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Network

theatrical poster
Directed by Sidney Lumet
Produced by Howard Gottfried
Written by Paddy Chayefsky
Starring Faye Dunaway
William Holden
Peter Finch
Robert Duvall
Ned Beatty
Beatrice Straight
Music by Elliot Lawrence
Cinematography Owen Roizman
Editing by Alan Heim
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
United Artists
Release date(s) November 27, 1976
Running time 121 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget USD$ 3,800,000 (est.)

Network is a 1976 American satirical film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer about a fictional television network, Union Broadcasting System (UBS), and its struggle with poor ratings. It was written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Sidney Lumet, and stars Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch and Robert Duvall and features Wesley Addy, Ned Beatty and Beatrice Straight. The film won four Academy Awards, including Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.

Network has continued to receive recognition, decades after its initial release. In 2000, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". In 2002, it was inducted into the Producers Guild of America Hall of Fame as a film that has "set an enduring standard for U.S. American entertainment."[1] In 2006, Chayefsky's script was voted one of the top ten movie scripts of all-time by the Writers Guild of America, East. In 2007, the film was 64th among the Top 100 Greatest U.S. American Films as chosen by the American Film Institute, a ranking slightly higher than the one AFI gave it ten years earlier. It is also one of the top 250 films of all time at number 216 on the influential film website the Internet Movie Database (IMDb).[2]

Contents

Plot

Howard Beale, the longtime anchor of the UBS Evening News, learns he has just two more weeks on the air because of declining ratings. The following night, he announces on live television that he will commit suicide by shooting himself in the head during next Tuesday's broadcast.[3] UBS fires him after this incident, but—after some persuasion from UBS News' old guard president and Beale's best friend, Max Schumacher—lets him back on the air, ostensibly for a dignified farewell. Beale promises he will apologize for his outburst. However, once on the air, he launches into a rant claiming that life is "bullshit". Beale's outburst causes the newscast's ratings to soar.

Much to Schumacher's dismay, the upper echelons of UBS decide to exploit Beale's antics rather than pulling him off the air. In one impassioned diatribe, Beale galvanizes the nation with his rant, "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" and persuades Americans to shout out their windows during a lightning storm. Soon Beale is hosting a new program called The Howard Beale Show, top-billed as a "mad prophet." Ultimately, the show becomes the highest rated program on television, and Beale finds new celebrity preaching his angry message in front of a live studio audience that, on cue, chants Beale's signature catchphrase en masse: "We're as mad as hell, and we're not going to take this anymore."

Howard Beale (Peter Finch) delivering his "mad as hell" speech

Beginning as a producer of entertainment programming, Diana Christensen's desire to produce a hit show for the network results in her cutting a deal with a group of radical left-wing terrorists (a parody of the Symbionese Liberation Army, called the "Ecumenical Liberation Army") who film themselves robbing banks, footage to be used as the cold-opening for a new series based on terrorists for the network that she wants developed for the upcoming fall season. When Beale's nervous breakdown-fueled rants bring in high ratings, Christensen approaches Schumacher and offers to help him "develop" the show. He says no to the professional offer, but not to the personal one, and the two begin an affair. When Schumacher decides to end the "Howard as Angry Man" format, Christensen convinces her boss Frank Hackett to slot the evening news show under the entertainment division so she can produce it; Hackett fires Schumacher at the same time. The romance withers as the show flourishes, but in the flush of high ratings, the two ultimately find their ways back together, leading to Schumacher leaving his wife of over 25 years for Christensen. But Christensen's fanatical devotion to her job and emotional emptiness ultimately drives Max back to his wife, warning his former lover that she will self-destruct at the pace she was running with her career. "You are television incarnate, Diana," he tells her, "indifferent to suffering, insensitive to joy. All of life is reduced to the common rubble of banality."

When Beale discovers that CCA, the conglomerate that owns UBS, will be bought out by an even larger Saudi Arabian conglomerate, he launches an on-screen tirade against it, encouraging viewers to send telegrams to the White House telling them, "I want the CCA deal stopped now!" This throws the top network brass into a state of panic because the company's debt load has made merger essential for survival. Beale is then taken to meet with CCA chairman Arthur Jensen, who explicates his own "corporate cosmology" to the attentive Beale. Jensen delivers a tirade of his own in an "appropriate setting," the dramatically darkened CCA boardroom, that suggests to the docile Beale that Jensen may himself be some higher power — describing the interrelatedness of the participants in the international economy, and the illusory nature of nationality distinctions. Jensen's world view ultimately persuades Beale to abandon his populist messages. However, television audiences find his new views on the dehumanization of society to be depressing, and ratings begin to slide. Despite this, Jensen will not allow executives to fire Beale as he spreads the new 'evangel.' Seeing its two-for-the-price-of-one value — solving the Beale problem plus sparking a boost in season-opener ratings — Christensen arranges for Beale's on-air assassination by the same group of urban terrorists whom she discovered earlier and who now have their own UBS show, The Mao Tse-Tung Hour. It is, the voice-over assures, "the first known instance of a man who was killed because he had lousy ratings."

Cast

Cast notes

  • Kathy Cronkite (Walter Cronkite's daughter) appears as kidnapped heiress Mary Ann Gifford.
  • Lance Henriksen has a small uncredited role as a network lawyer at Ahmet Khan's home.
  • Tom Gibney, a now-retired news anchor in Toronto, Ontario, appears in an uncredited role as a news anchor

Production

The script was written by Paddy Chayefsky, and the producer was Howard Gottfried. The two had just come off a lawsuit against United Artists, challenging the studio's right to lease their previous film, The Hospital, to ABC in a package with a less successful film. Despite recently settling this lawsuit, Chayefsky and Gottfried agreed to allow UA to finance the film. But after reading the script, UA found the subject matter too controversial and backed out.

Undeterred, Chayefsky and Gottfried shopped the script around to other studios, and eventually found an interested party in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Soon afterwards UA reversed itself and looked to co-finance the film with MGM, who for the past several years had distributed through UA in the US. MGM agreed to let UA back on board, and gave them the international distribution rights, with MGM controlling North American rights.

The film premiered in New York City on November 27, 1976, with a wide release following shortly afterward.

Critical reception

Vincent Canby, in his November 1976 review of the film for The New York Times, called the film "outrageous...brilliantly, cruelly funny, a topical American comedy that confirms Paddy Chayefsky's position as a major new American satirist" and a film whose "wickedly distorted views of the way television looks, sounds, and, indeed, is, are the satirist's cardiogram of the hidden heart, not just of television but also of the society that supports it and is, in turn, supported."[4]

In a review of the film written after it received its Academy Awards, Roger Ebert called it a "supremely well-acted, intelligent film that tries for too much, that attacks not only television but also most of the other ills of the 1970s," though "what it does accomplish is done so well, is seen so sharply, is presented so unforgivingly, that Network will outlive a lot of tidier movies."[5] Seen a quarter-century later, Ebert said the film was "like prophecy. When Chayefsky created Howard Beale, could he have imagined Jerry Springer, Howard Stern and the World Wrestling Federation?"; he credits Lumet and Chayefsky for knowing "just when to pull out all the stops."[6]

Not all reviews were positive; Pauline Kael in The New Yorker slammed the movie's abundance of long, preachy speeches; Chayefsky's self-righteous contempt for not only television itself but also TV viewers; and the fact that almost everyone in the movie has a screaming rant at some point—pointing out that Robert Duvall screams the loudest. (Her review was subtitled "Hot Air.")

Awards and honors

Academy Awards

Network won three of the four acting awards, tying the record of 1951's A Streetcar Named Desire. As of 2009, Network is the last film to have won three of the four acting Academy Awards.

Won:

Finch died before the Academy Awards ceremony was held and, until Heath Ledger won an Oscar for his role in 2008's The Dark Knight, was the only performer ever to win the award posthumously. In addition, both Finch and Ledger were Australian citizens.

The award itself was collected by his widow, Eletha Finch. Straight's performance as the wife of Holden's character occupied only five minutes and 40 seconds of screen time, making it the shortest performance to win an Oscar, as of 2009.

Nominated:

Golden Globes

Won:

Nominated:

BAFTA Awards

Won:

Nominated:

  • Best Film
  • Best Actor - William Holden
  • Best Actress - Faye Dunaway
  • Best Supporting Actor - Robert Duvall
  • Best Director - Sidney Lumet
  • Best Editing - Alan Heim
  • Best Screenplay - Paddy Chayefsky
  • Best Sound Track - Jack Fitzstephens, Marc Laub, Sanford Rackow, James Sabat, & Dick Vorisek

American Film Institute

Rights

In 1980, UA's then-parent, Transamerica Corporation, put the studio up for sale following the disastrous release of Heaven's Gate, which was a major financial flop and public relations nightmare. Transamerica had become very nervous about the film industry as a result. The next year MGM purchased UA, and consequently gained UA's international rights to Network.

Then, in 1986, media mogul Ted Turner purchased MGM/UA. Without any financial backers, Turner soon fell into debt and sold back most of MGM, but kept the library for his own company, Turner Entertainment - this included the US rights to Network, but international rights remained with MGM, who retained the UA library (or, at least UA's own releases from 1952 onward, plus a few pre-1952 features, as other libraries which had been acquired by UA - such as the pre-1950[7][8] Warner Bros. library - were retained by Turner). Turner soon made a deal with MGM's video division for home distribution of most of Turner's library, allowing MGM to retain US video rights to Network for 13 more years.

In 1996, Turner merged with Time Warner. Consequently, WB assumed TV and theatrical distribution rights to the Turner library, with video rights being added in 1999.

Today, WB/Turner owns the US rights to Network, while international ancillary rights remain with MGM - which was bought by a consortium led by Sony and Comcast in 2005. MGM has also assigned international video distribution rights to 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, while theatrical rights are co-held by Columbia Pictures.

Cultural references

The films quote "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore" and its derivatives is referenced in multiple films and media, including the 2008 film, The Onion Movie, where the anchorman, Norm Archer says the phrase out loud. A derivative of it is found in the TV special Un-broke, where Samuel L. Jackson plays an author of self-help books who is out of money and encourages people to yell, "I'm broke as Hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!". Another derivative is used in the inside cover of Fox News Channel, where political commentator Bill O'Reilly's 2003 book Who's Looking Out for You? features the quote "Bill O'Reilly's as mad as hell--and he's no going to let you take it anymore". A humorous derivative is stated in the film UHF, where Michael Richards plays a janitor turned kid's variety show host who utters a similar, "These floors are dirty as hell, and we're not going to take it anymore!". The sentence is also used for promotion as in theNew York Mets, who used to play the clip, "So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell" followed by a video of "LETS GO METS".

Conservative talk-show host, Glenn Beck, has repeatedly compared himself to Howard Beale.[9]

In the TV Series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, the pilot episode features a television producer going on a rant similar to Beale's, and numerous reporters allude to the film itself. At one point, one of the characters states, "At least they know who [Paddy] Chayefsky is."

Instrumental rock band Maybeshewill uses samples of the film in the song Not for Want of Trying.

Notes

  1. ^ Producers Guild Hall of Fame - Past Inductees from the PGA website - THIS IS A DEAD LINK
  2. ^ Review of Network
  3. ^ Because Chayefsky started writing the screenplay during the same month that newscaster Christine Chubbuck committed on-air suicide, some, including Matthew C. Ehrlich in Journalism in the Movies (ISBN 0252029348), have speculated (p. 122) that the scene was inspired by Chubbuck's manner of death.
  4. ^ Review of Network from the November 15, 1976 edition of The New York Times
  5. ^ Review of Network by Roger Ebert from the 1970s
  6. ^ Review of Network by Roger Ebert from October 2000
  7. ^ You Must Remember This: The Warner Bros. Story (2008), p. 255.
  8. ^ WB retained a pair of features from 1949 that they merely distributed, and all short subjects released on or after September 1, 1948; in addition to all cartoons released in August 1948.
  9. ^ Fair.org

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Network is a 1976 film about a TV network that cynically exploits a deranged ex-TV anchor's ravings and revelations about the media for its own profit. It is an Academy Award winning film and #66 on the AFI's 100 Movies list.

Directed by Sidney Lumet and written by Paddy Chayefsky.
Television will never be the same!Taglines

Contents

Howard Beale

  • I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be! We know things are bad - worse than bad, They're crazy! It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone!' Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone! I want you to get MAD! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot - I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad! You've got to say, "I'm a HUMAN BEING, GODDAMNIT! My LIFE has VALUE!!" So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now, and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell: "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!!" I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!... You've got to say, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!!!
  • I would like at this moment to announce that I will be retiring from this program in two weeks time because of poor ratings. Since this show is the only thing I had going for me in my life, I've decided to kill myself. I'm going to blow my brains out right on this program a week from today. So tune in next Tuesday. That should give the public relations people a week to promote the show. You ought to get a hell of a rating out of that. Fifty share, easy.
  • All human beings are becoming humanoids. All over the world, not just in America. We're just getting there faster since we're the most advanced country.
  • We'll tell you anything you want to hear, we lie like hell.
  • You're beginning to believe the illusions we're spinning here, you're beginning to believe that the tube is reality and your own lives are unreal. You do. Why, whatever the tube tells you: you dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube, you even think like the tube. This is mass madness, you maniacs. In God's name, you people are the real thing, WE are the illusion.
  • Right now, there is a whole, an entire generation that never knew anything that didn't come out of this tube. This tube is the gospel, the ultimate revelation; this tube can make or break presidents, popes, prime ministers; this tube is the most awesome goddamn propaganda force in the whole godless world, and woe is us if it ever falls into the hands of the wrong people, and that's why woe is us that Edward George Ruddy died. Because this company is now in the hands of CCA, the Communications Corporation of America; there's a new chairman of the board, a man called Frank Hackett, sitting in Mr. Ruddy's office on the twentieth floor. And when the 12th largest company in the world controls the most awesome goddamn propaganda force in the whole godless world, who knows what shit will be peddled for truth on this network?
  • Good evening. Today is Wednesday, September the 24th, and this is my last broadcast. Yesterday I announced on this program that I was going to commit public suicide, admittedly an act of madness. Well, I'll tell you what happened: I just ran out of bullshit. Am I still on the air? I really don't know any other way to say it other than I just ran out of bullshit. Bullshit is all the reasons we give for living. And if we can't think up any reasons of our own, we always have the God bullshit. We don't know why we're going through all this pointless pain, humiliation, decays, so there better be someone somewhere who does know. That's the God bullshit. And then, there's the noble man bullshit; that man is a noble creature that can order his own world; who needs God? Well, if there's anybody out there that can look around this demented slaughterhouse of a world we live in and tell me that man is a noble creature, believe me: That man is full of bullshit. I don't have anything going for me. I haven't got any kids. And I was married for forty-three years of shrill, shrieking fraud. So I don't have any bullshit left. I just ran out of it, you see.
  • Television is not the truth. Television is a goddamned amusement park.
  • Last night, I got up here and asked you people to fight for your heritage and you did and it was beautiful. Six million telegrams were received from the White House! The Arab takeover of CCA has been stopped! The people spoke! The people won! It was a radiant eruption of democracy! But, I think that was it fellas. That sort of thing is not likely to happen again, because at the bottom of all our terrified souls we know that democracy is a dying giant; a sick, sick, dying, decaying political concept riding in it's final pain. I don't mean that the United States is finished as a world power. The United States is the richest, most powerful, most advance country in the world, light years ahead of any country, and I don't mean the communists are going to take over the world because the communists are deader than we are. What is finished, is the idea that this great country is dedicated to the freedom and flourish of every individual in it; it's the individual that's finished. It's the single, solitary human being that's finished; it's every single one of you out there that's finished. Because this is no longer a nation of independent individuals, it's a nation of two-hundred some-odd million transistorized, deodorized, whiter-that-white steel-belted bodies, totally unnecessary as human beings, and as replaceable as piston rods.

Max Schumacher

  • It's too late, Diana! There's nothing left in you that I can live with! You're one of Howard's humanoids, and, if I stay with you, I'll be destroyed! Like Howard Beale was destroyed. Like Laureen Hobbs was destroyed. Like everything you and the institution of television touch is destroyed. You are television incarnate, Diana, indifferent to suffering, insensitive to joy. All of life is reduced to the common rubble of banality. War, murder, death are all the same to you as bottles of beer. The daily business of life is a corrupt comedy. You even shatter the sensations of time and space into split-seconds and instant replays. You are madness, Diana, virulent madness, and everything you touch dies with you. Well, not me. Not while I can still feel pleasure and pain and love.
  • [about Diana] I'm not sure she's capable of any real feelings. She's television generation. She learned life from Bugs Bunny.
  • After living with you for the last six months, I'm turning into one of your scripts. Well, this is not a script, Diana. There's some real, actual life going on here.
  • I feel lousy about the pain that I've caused my wife and kids. I feel guilty and conscience-stricken, and all of those things you think sentimental, but which my generation calls simple human decency. And I miss my home, because I'm beginning to get scared shitless, because all of a sudden it's closer to the end than the beginning, and death is suddenly a perceptible thing to me, with definable features.
  • She does have one script in which I kill myself: An adapted for television version of "Anna Karenina", where she's Count Vronsky and I'm Anna.

Diana Christensen

  • (on the phone in her apartment) Lou?... Lou... Lou!... YOU'RE his freaking agent, Lou! I AM COUNTING ON YOU TO TALK SOME SENSE INTO THE LUNATIC! NOBODY WANTS TO HEAR ABOUT DYING DEMOCRACY AND DEHUMANIZATION!... Our share stock is shrinking, and we're doomed for! ANOTHER COUPLE OF WEEKS OF THIS AND THE SPONSORS WILL BE BAILING OUT!... Look, this is a breach of contract, Lou! This isn't the Howard Beale we signed! YOU BETTER GET HIM OFF THAT CORPORATE UNIVERSE KICK, OR SO HELP ME, I'LL PUT HIM OFF THE AIR! I'VE TOLD HIM, LOU, I'VE BEEN TELLING HIM EVERY DAY FOR A WEEK! I AM SICK OF TELLING HIM! NOW YOU TELL HIM!
  • I'm interested in doing a weekly dramatic series based on the Ecumenical Liberation Army. The way I see the series is: Each week we open with an authentic act of political terrorism taken on the spot, in the actual moment. Then we go to the drama behind the opening film footage. That's your job, Ms. Hobbs. You've got to get the Ecumenicals to bring in that film footage for us. The network can't deal with them directly; they are, after all, wanted criminals.
  • By tomorrow, he'll have a 50 share, maybe even a 60. Howard Beale is processed instant God, and right now, it looks like he may just go over bigger than Mary Tyler Moore.
  • Look, I sent you all a concept analysis report yesterday. Did any of you read it? [Aides stare blankly at her] Well, in a nutshell, it said: "The American people are turning sullen. They've been clobbered on all sides by Vietnam, Watergate, the inflation, the depression; they've turned off, shot up, and they've fucked themselves limp, and nothing helps." So, this concept analysis report concludes, "The American people want somebody to articulate their rage for them." I've been telling you people since I took this job six months ago that I want angry shows. I don't want conventional programming on this network. I want counterculture, I want anti-establishment. I don't want to play butch boss with you people, but when I took over this department, it had the worst programming record in television history. This network hasn't one show in the top twenty. This network is an industry joke, and we'd better start putting together one winner for next September. I want a show developed based on the activities of a terrorist group, "Joseph Stalin and His Merry Band of Bolsheviks," I want ideas from you people. This is what you're paid for. And by the way, the next time I send an audience research report around, you'd all better read it, or I'll sack the fucking lot of you. Is that clear?
  • [flipping through the newspaper] You know, Barbara, the Arabs have decided to jack up the price of oil another 20%... uh, the CIA has been caught opening Senator Humphrey's mail... there's a civil war in Angola... another one in Beirut... the, uh, New York City's still facing default... they finally caught up with Patricia Hearst... and the whole front page of the "Daily News" is Howard Beale.
  • Well Max, here we are: Middle-aged man reaffirming his middle-aged manhood, and a terrified young woman with a father complex. What sort of script do you think we can make out of this?
  • [immediately after making love with Max] What's really bugging me now is my daytime programming. NBC's got a lock on daytime - lousy game shows - and I'd like to bust them. I'm thinking of doing a homosexual soap opera, "The Dykes": The heart-rending saga about a woman hopelessly in love with her husband's mistress.
  • I was married for four years, and pretended to be happy; and I had six years of analysis, and pretended to be sane. My husband ran off with his boyfriend, and I had an affair with my analyst, who told me I was the worst lay he'd ever had.
  • I watched your 6 o'clock news today; it's straight tabloid. You had a minute and a half of that lady riding a bike naked in Central Park; on the other hand, you had less than a minute of hard national and international news. It was all sex, scandal, brutal crime, sports, children with incurable diseases, and lost puppies. So, I don't think I'll listen to any protestations of high standards of journalism when you're right down on the streets soliciting audiences like the rest of us. Look, all I'm saying is if you're going to hustle, at least do it right.
  • [shouting] Son of a bitch. We've struck the motherlode!
  • Look, we've got a bunch of hobgoblin radicals called the Ecumenical Liberation Army who go around taking home movies of themselves robbing banks. Now, maybe they'll take movies of themselves kidnapping heiresses, hijacking 747s, bombing bridges, assassinating ambassadors. We'd open each week's segment with their authentic footage, hire a couple of writers to write a story behind that footage, and we've got ourselves a series.
  • We're kidding ourselves. Full-fledged messiahs don't come in bunches.

Frank Hackett

  • I argued that television was a volatile industry in which success and failure were determined week by week; Mr. Jensen does not like volatile industries and suggested with a certain sinister silkiness that volatility in business usually reflected bad management.
  • Four hours ago I was the Sun God at CCA, Mr. Jensen's handpicked golden boy, the heir apparent. Now I'm a man without a corporation.
  • I'm gonna kill him. I'm gonna impale the son-of-a-bitch with a sharp stick through the heart. I'll take out a contract on him. I'll hire a professional killer; no, I'll do it myself. I'll strangle him with a sash cord.
  • And I've got some GOD DAMN SURPRISES FOR YOU TOO, SCHUMACHER! I'VE HAD IT UP TO HERE WITH YOUR CRUDDY DIVISION, AND ITS ANNUAL 33-MILLION DOLLAR DEFICIT!

Arthur Jensen

  • Good morning, Mr. Beale. They tell me you're a madman.
  • [to Howard] They say I can sell anything; I'd like to try to sell something to you.
  • You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won't have it!! Is that clear?! You think you've merely stopped a business deal. That is not the case. The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back! It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity! It is ecological balance! You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multi-national dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, Reichmarks, Yen, Rubles, Pounds, and Shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU WILL ATONE! Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state — Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there's no war or famine, oppression or brutality — one vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock, all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused.

Others

  • Louise Schumacher: Get out, go anywhere you want, go to a hotel, go live with her, and don't come back. Because, after 25 years of building a home and raising a family and all the senseless pain that we have inflicted on each other, I'm damned if I'm going to stand here and have you tell me you're in love with somebody else. Because this isn't a convention weekend with your secretary, is it? Or - or some broad that you picked up after three belts of booze. This is your great winter romance, isn't it? Your last roar of passion before you settle into your emeritus years. Is that what's left for me? Is that my share? She gets the winter passion, and I get the dotage? What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to sit at home knitting and purling while you slink back like some penitent drunk? I'm your wife, damn it. And, if you can't work up a winter passion for me, the least I require is respect and allegiance. I hurt. Don't you understand that? I hurt badly.
  • Laureen Hobbs: He's plague, he's smallpox, he's typhoid. I don't want to follow his goddamn show. I want out of that 8 o'clock spot. I've got enough troubles without Howard Beale as a lead-in. You guys scheduled me up against Tony Orlando and Dawn, NBC's got Little House on the Prairie, ABC's got The Bionic Woman. You've gotta do something. You've gotta do something about Howard Beale. Get him off the air. Get him off. Do something. DO ANYTHING.
  • Barbara Schlesinger: These are those four outlines submitted by Universal for an hour series. You needn't bother to read them; I'll tell them to you. The first one is set at a large Eastern law school, presumably Harvard. The series is irresistibly entitled The New Lawyers. The running characters are a crusty-but-benign ex-Supreme Court justice, presumably Oliver Wendell Holmes by way of Dr. Zorba; there's a beautiful girl graduate student; and the local district attorney who is brilliant and sometimes cuts corners. The second one is called The Amazon Squad. The running characters include a crusty-but-benign police lieutenant who's always getting heat from the commissioner; a hard-nosed, hard-drinking detective who thinks women belong in the kitchen; and the brilliant and beautiful young girl cop who's fighting the feminist battle on the force. Up next is another one of those investigative reporter shows. A crusty-but-benign managing editor who's always gett...
  • Narrator: [last lines] This was the story of Howard Beale: The first known instance of a man who was killed because of lousy ratings.

Dialogue

Diana Christensen: Hi. I'm Diana Christensen, a racist lackey of the imperialist ruling circles.
Laureen Hobbs: I'm Laureen Hobbs, a badass commie nigger.
Diana Christensen: Sounds like the basis of a firm friendship.

Diana Christensen: The time has come to re-evaluate our relationship, Max.
Max Schumacher: So I see.
Diana Christensen: I don't like the way this script of ours has turned out. It's turning into a seedy little drama.
Max Schumacher: You're going to cancel the show?
Diana Christensen: Right.

Louise Schumacher: Do you love her?
Max Schumacher: I don't know how I feel. I'm grateful I can feel anything.
[his wife flinches]
Max Schumacher: I know I'm obsessed with her.
Louise Schumacher: Then say it. You keep telling me that you're obsessed, you're infatuated. Say that you're in love with her.
Max Schumacher: [pauses] I'm in love with her.

Doorman: Good afternoon, Mr. Beale.
Howard Beale: I MUST MAKE MY WITNESS.
Doorman: Sure thing, Mr. Beale.

Nelson Chaney: All I know is that this violates every canon of respectable broadcasting.
Frank Hackett: We're not a respectable network. We're a whorehouse network, and we have to take whatever we can get.
Nelson Chaney: Well, I don't want any part of it. I don't fancy myself the president of a whorehouse.
Frank Hackett: That's very commendable of you, Nelson. Now sit down. Your indignation is duly noted; you can always resign tomorrow.

Nelson Chaney: The affiliates won't carry it.
Frank Hackett: The affiliates will kiss your ass if you can hand them a hit show.

Arthur Jensen: The world is a business, Mr. Beale; it has been since man crawled out of the slime. Our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there's no war or famine, oppression or brutality - one vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock - all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused. And I have chosen you, Mr. Beale, to preach this evangel.
Howard Beale: Why me?
Arthur Jensen: Because you're on television, dummy. Sixty million people watch you every night of the week, Monday through Friday.
Howard Beale: I have seen the face of God.
Arthur Jensen: You just might be right, Mr. Beale.

Howard Beale: [on the air] I just ran out of bullshit.
Harry Hunter: [picks up ringing phone in editing room] Mr. Schumacher's right here, do you want to talk to him?
Howard Beale: Bullshit is all the reasons we give for living. If we can't think up reasons of our own, we always have the God bullshit.
Max Schumacher: [on the phone] Yeah, Tom, what is it?
Howard Beale: We don't know why we go through all this pointless pain, humiliation, and decay. So there better be someone somewhere who does know. That's the God bullshit.
Max Schumacher: He's saying that life is bullshit, and it is, so what are you screaming about?
[hangs up]

Frank Hackett: Well, the issue is: Shall we kill Howard Beale, or not? I'd like to get some more opinions on that.
Diana Christensen: I don't see we have any options, Frank. Let's kill the son-of-a-bitch.

Secretary: Mr. Hackett's trying to get through to you.
Max Schumacher: Tell Mr. Hackett to go fuck himself.

Howard Beale: I'm gonna blow my brains out right on the air, right in the middle of the seven o'clock news.
Max Schumacher: Well, you'll get a hell of a rating, I'll tell you that. A 50 share, at least. We could make a series of it. "Suicide of the Week." Aw, hell, why limit ourselves? "Execution of the Week."
Howard Beale: "Terrorist of the Week."
Max Schumacher: I love it. Suicides, assassinations, mad bombers, Mafia hitmen, automobile smash-ups: "The Death Hour." A great Sunday night show for the whole family. It'd wipe that fuckin' Disney right off the air.

Diana Christensen: I'm sorry for all those things I said to you last night. You're not the worst fuck I ever had. Believe me, I've had worse. You don't puff or snorkel and make death-like rattles. As a matter of fact, you're rather serene in the sack.
Max Schumacher: Why is it that a woman always thinks that the most savage thing she can say to a man is to impugn his cocksmanship.
Diana Christensen: I'm sorry I impugned your cocksmanship.
Max Schumacher: I gave up comparing genitals back in the schoolyard.

Max Schumacher: I'm the man that you presumably love. I'm a part of your life. I live here. I'm real. You can't switch to another station.
Diana Christensen: Well, what exactly is it you want me to do?
Max Schumacher: I just want you to love me. I just want you to love me, primal doubts and all. You understand that, don't you?
Diana Christensen: [weakly] I don't know how to do that.

Max Schumacher: You need me. You need me badly. Because I'm your last contact with human reality. I love you. And that painful, decaying love is the only thing between you and the shrieking nothingness you live the rest of the day.
Diana Christensen: [hesitatingly] Then, don't leave me.
Max Schumacher: It's too late, Diana. There's nothing left in you that I can live with. You're one of Howard's humanoids. If I stay with you, I'll be destroyed. Like Howard Beale was destroyed. Like Laureen Hobbs was destroyed. Like everything you and the institution of television touch is destroyed. You're television incarnate, Diana: Indifferent to suffering; insensitive to joy. All of life is reduced to the common rubble of banality. War, murder, death are all the same to you as bottles of beer. And the daily business of life is a corrupt comedy. You even shatter the sensations of time and space into split seconds and instant replays. You're madness, Diana. Virulent madness. And everything you touch dies with you. But not me. Not as long as I can feel pleasure, and pain... and love.
[Kisses her]
Max Schumacher: And it's a happy ending: Wayward husband comes to his senses, returns to his wife, with whom he has established a long and sustaining love. Heartless young woman left alone in her arctic desolation. Music up with a swell; final commercial. And here are a few scenes from next week's show.

Laureen Hobbs: Don't fuck with my distribution costs! I'm making a lousy two-fifteen per segment and I'm already deficiting twenty-five grand a week with Metro! I'm paying William Morris ten percent off the top, and I'm giving this turkey ten thou per segment, and another five to this fruitcake! And Helen, don't start no shit about UBS again! I'm paying Metro twenty-thousand for all foreign and Canadian distribution, and that's after recoupment! The communist party's not gonna see a nickel out of this goddamn show until we go into syndication!
Helen Miggs: C'mon Laurene. The party's in for seventy-five hundred a week of the production expenses.
Laureen Hobbs: I'm not giving this pseudoinsurrectionary sectarian a piece of my show! I'm not giving him script approval, and I sure as shit ain't cuttin' him into my distribution charges!
Mary Ann Gifford: [screaming] You fucking fascist! Did you see the film we made of the San Reno jail breakout, demonstrating the rising of the seminal prisoner class infrastructure?
Laureen Hobbs: You can blow the seminal prisoner class infrastructure out your ass! I'm not knockin' down my goddamn distribution charges!
Great Ahmed Kahn: [fires off his gun through the ceiling] Man, give her the FUCKING overhead clause. Let's get back to page twenty-two, number 5, small 'a'. Subsidiary rights.

Frank Hackett: Mr. Jensen is unhappy with Howard Beale and wants him discontinued.
Diana Christensen: He may be unhappy, but he isn't stupid enough to withdraw the number one show on television out of pique.
Frank Hackett: Two billion dollars is not pique! That's the Wrath of God! And the Wrath of God wants Howard Beale fired.

Taglines

  • Television will never be the same!
  • Prepare yourself for a perfectly outrageous motion picture!

Cast

External links

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