Network is a 1976 film about a TV network that cynically exploits a mentally ill but enlightened ex-TV anchor's epiphany and subsequent revelations about the media for its own profit. It won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay (Written Directly for the Screen) and three of the four Oscars for film acting. It is #66 on the AFI's 100 Movies list.
Howard Beale edit
- 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! [shouting] You've got to say: 'I'm a human being, goddammit! 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 gonna 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'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" is ranked #19 in the American Film Institute's list of the top 100 movie quotations in American cinema.
- Edward George Ruddy died today! Edward George Ruddy was the Chairman of the Board of the Union Broadcasting Systems, and he died at eleven o'clock this morning of a heart condition, and woe is us, we're in a lot of trouble! So, a rich little man with white hair died. What does that got to do with the price of rice, right? And why is that woe to us? Because you people and sixty-two million other Americans are listening to me right now. Because less than three percent of you people read books! Because less than fifteen percent of you read newspapers! Because the only truth you know is what you get over this tube! 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 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 Communication Corporation of America. There's a new chairman of the board, a man called Frank Hackett sitting in Mr. Ruddy's office on the 20th floor. And when the twelfth 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?! So, you listen to me. Listen to me! Television is not the truth. Television's a goddamned amusement park! Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, sideshow freaks, lion tamers, and football players. We're in the boredom-killing business! So if you want the truth, go to God! Go to your gurus! Go to yourselves! Because that's the only place you're ever gonna find any real truth! But man, you're never gonna get any truth from us. We'll tell you anything you wanna hear. We lie like hell. We'll tell you that, uh, Kojak always gets the killer, and that nobody ever gets cancer at Archie Bunker's house. And no matter how much trouble the hero is in, don't worry, just look at your watch, at the end of the hour he's gonna win. We'll tell you any shit you want to hear. We deal in illusions, man! None of it is true! But you people sit there day after day, night after night, all ages, colors, creeds. We're all you know! You're beginning to believe the illusions we're spinning here! You're beginning to think that the tube is reality and that your own lives are unreal! You do 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! So turn off your television sets! Turn them off now! Turn them off right now! Turn them off and leave them off! Turn them off right in the middle of this sentence I am speaking to you now! Turn them off!
- Last night I got up here and asked you people to stand up and fight for your heritage, and you did, and it was beautiful. Six million telegrams were received at 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, writhing in its final pain. I don't mean that the United States is finished as a world power. The United States is the richest, the most powerful, the most advanced country in the world, light-years ahead of any other country. And I don't mean the Communists are gonna 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 flourishing 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 some two hundred odd million transistorized, deodorized, whiter-than-white, steel-belted bodies, totally unnecessary as human beings and as replaceable as piston rods.
Well, the time has come to say 'Is 'dehumanization' such a bad word?' Whether it's good or bad, that's what is so. The whole world is becoming humanoid, creatures that look human but aren't. The whole world, not just us. We're just the most advanced country, so we're getting there first. The whole world's people are becoming mass-produced, programmed, numbered, insensate things.
- The American people are good people: Democrats, Independents, Republicans and others. Under no circumstances will I, and I hope no others, capitulate to those that want to undercut what's all good in America. [This quote is from a clip of President Ford that is broadcast right before Howard Beale announces that he is leaving the network.]
Diana Christiansen edit
- 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 can't tell you how many men have told me what a lousy lay I am. I apparently have a masculine temperament. I arouse quickly, consummate prematurely, and can't wait to get my clothes back on and get out of that bedroom. I seem to be inept at everything except my work. I'm goddamn good at my work and so I confine myself to that. All I want out of life is a 30 share and a 20 rating.
- By mid-October, The Howard Beale Show had settled in at a 42% share, more than equaling all the other network news shows combined. In the Nielsen ratings, The Howard Beale Show was listed as the fourth highest rated show of the month, surpassed only by The Six Million Dollar Man, All in the Family and Phyllis - a phenomenal state of affairs for a news show - and on October the 15th, Diana Christensen flew to Los Angeles for what the trade calls "powwows and confabs" with our west coast programming execs and to get production rolling on the shows for the coming season.
- It was a perfectly admissible argument that Howard Beale advanced in the days that followed. It was, however, also a very depressing one. Nobody particularly cared to hear his life was utterly valueless. By the end of the first week in June, The Howard Beale Show had dropped one point in the ratings and its trend of shares dipped under 48% for the first time since last November.
- The initial response to the new Howard Beale Show was not auspicatory. The press was, without exception, hostile and industry reaction, negative. The ratings for the Thursday and Friday shows were both 14%, but Monday's rating dropped a point, clearly suggesting the novelty was wearing off.
- [Final line in the film] This was the story of Howard Beale: The first known instance of a man who was killed because he had lousy ratings.
Frank Hackett edit
- The business of management is management.
- 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.
- Howard Beale: [on the air] 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. 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: 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.
- 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]
- Howard Beale: 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 33 years of shrill, shrieking fraud. So I don't have any bullshit left. I just ran out of it, you see.
- Diana Christensen: I think we can get a hell of a Movie of the Week out of it, maybe even a series...Look, we've got a bunch of hobgoblin radicals called the Ecumenical Liberation Army who go around taking home movies of themselves robbing banks. Maybe they'll take movies of themselves kidnapping heiresses, hijacking 747's, bombing bridges, assassinating ambassadors. We'd open each week's segment with their authentic footage, hire a couple of writers to write some story behind that footage, and we've got ourselves a series.
- George Bosch: A series about a bunch of, uh, bank-robbing guerrillas?
- Barbara Schlesinger:What are we gonna call it - the Mao Tse-Tung Hour?
- Diana Christensen: Why not? They've got 'Strike Force', 'Task Force', 'SWAT'. Why not Che Guevara and his own little 'Mod Squad'. Look, I sent you all a concept analysis report yesterday. Did any of you read it? 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 screwed 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 counter-culture. I want anti-establishment. [She shuts the door] 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 20. This network is an industry joke. We 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. That 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 fuckin' lot of you, is that clear?
- Diana Christensen: We just increased our audience by twenty or thirty million people in one night. Now, you're not gonna get something like this dumped in your lap for the rest of your days, and you can't just piss it away. Howard Beale got up there last night and said what every American feels, that he's tired of all the bullshit. He's articulating the popular rage. I want that show, Frank. I can turn that show into the biggest smash on television.
- Frank Hackett: What do you mean, you want that show? It's a news show. It's not your department.
- Diana Christensen: I see Howard Beale as a latter-day prophet, a magnificent messianic figure, inveighing against the hypocrisies of our times, a strip Savonarola, Monday through Friday. I tell you, Frank, that could just go through the roof. And I'm talking about a six dollar cost per thousand show! I'm talking about a hundred, a hundred thirty thousand dollar minutes! Do you want to figure out the revenues of a strip show that sells for a hundred thousand bucks a minute? One show like that could pull this whole network right out of the hole! Now, Frank, it's being handed to us on a plate. Let's not blow it!
- 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.
- Max Schumacher: He could be jumping off a roof for all I know. The man is insane. He's not responsible for himself. He needs care and treatment. And all you grave-robbers think about is that he's a hit!
- Diana Christensen: You know, Max, it's just possible that he isn't insane, that he is, in fact, imbued with some special spirit.
- Max Schumacher: My God, I'm supposed to be the romantic. You're supposed to be the hard-bitten realist.
- Diana Christensen: All right. Howard Beale obviously fills a void. The audience out there obviously wants a prophet, even a manufactured one, even if he's as mad as Moses. 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.
- Max Schumacher: I am not putting Howard back on the air.
- Diana Christensen: It's not your show any more, Max, it's mine.
- Frank Hackett: I gave her the show, Schumacher. I'm putting the network news show under programming. Mr. Ruddy has had a mild heart attack and is not taking calls. In his absence, I'm making all network decisions, including one I've been wanting to make a long time - you're fired.
- Louise: Then get out. Go anywhere you want. Go to a hotel, go live with her, but 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 gonna 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! [sobbing] I hurt! Don't you understand that? I hurt badly! Does she love you, Max?
- Max Schumacher: [about Diana] I'm not sure she's capable of any real feelings. She's television generation. She learned life from Bugs Bunny. The only reality she knows comes to her from over the TV set. She has very carefully devised a number of scenarios for all of us to play, like a Movie of the Week. And, my God, look at us, Louise. Here we are going through the obligatory middle-of-act-two 'scorned wife throws peccant husband out' scene. But don't worry, I'll come back to you in the end. All of her plot outlines have me leaving her and coming back to you because the audience won't buy a rejection of the happy American family.
- Arthur Jensen: 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, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, 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 sub-atomic 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 by-laws 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. 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.
- Diana Christensen: (on the phone) You're his goddamn agent. I'm counting on you to talk some sense into the lunatic. Nobody wants to hear about dying democracy and dehumanization.
- Max Schumacher: I'm sorry I'm late.
- Diana Christensen: (still on the phone) We're starting to get rumbles from the agencies. Another couple of weeks and the sponsors will be bailing out! This is a breach of contract. This isn't the Howard Beale we signed. Get him off that corporate universe kick, or so help me, I'll pull it off the air! I told him, Lou! I've been telling him every day for a week! I'm sick of telling him. Now you tell him! (hangs up) Jesus Christ. You could help me out with Howard if you wanted to. He listens to you. You're his best friend.
- Max Schumacher: I'm tired of all this hysteria about Howard Beale.
- Diana Christensen: Every time you come from seeing somebody in your family you come back in one of these middle-aged moods.
- Max Schumacher: And I'm tired of finding you on the god-damn telephone every time I turn around. I'm tired of being an accessory in your life! And I'm tired of pretending to write this dumb book about my maverick days in the great early years of television. Every god-damned executive fired from a network in the last twenty years has written this dumb book about the great early years of television. And nobody wants a dumb, damn, god-damn book about the great years of television...
- Diana Christensen: Terrific, Max! Maybe you can start a whole new career as an actor.
- Max Schumacher: After living with you for 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 went to visit my wife today because she's in a state of depression, so depressed that my daughter flew all the way from Seattle to be with her. And I feel lousy about that. I feel lousy about the pain that I've caused my wife and my kids. I feel guilty and conscience-stricken and all of those things that you think sentimental, but which my generation called 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 it is to the beginning, and death is suddenly a perceptible thing to me - with definable features. You're dealing with a man that has primal doubts, Diana, and you've got to cope with it. I'm not some guy discussing male menopause on the 'Barbara Walters Show'. I'm the man that you presumably love. I'm part of your life. I live here. I'm real. You can't switch to another station.
- Diana Christensen: 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: I think 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 is turning out. It's turning into a seedy little drama. Middle-aged man leaves wife and family for young heartless woman, goes to pot. The Blue Angel with Marlene Dietrich and Emil Jannings. I don't like it.
- Max Schumacher: So you're gonna cancel the show.
- Diana Christensen: Right.
- Max Schumacher: Here, let me do that.
- Diana Christensen: The simple fact is, Max, that you're a family man. You like a home and kids. That's beautiful. I'm incapable of any such commitment. All you'll get from me is a couple months of intermittent sex and recriminate and ugly little scenes like the one we had last night. I'm sorry for all those things I said to you last night. You're not the worst fuck I've ever had. Believe me, I've had worse. You don't puff or snorkle 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: Well, I'm sorry I impugned your cocksmanship.
- Max Schumacher: I gave up comparing genitals back in the schoolyard.
- Diana Christensen: You're being docile as hell about this.
- Max Schumacher: Oh, hell, Diana, I knew it was over with us weeks ago.
- Diana Christensen: Will you go back to your wife?
- Max Schumacher: I'll give it a try, but I don't think she'll jump at it. But don't worry about me. I'll manage. I always have, I always will. I'm more concerned about you. You're not the boozer type. So I figure a year, maybe two, before you crack up. Or jump out of your 14th floor office window.
- Diana Christensen: Stop selling, Max. I don't need you. I don't want your pain. I don't want your menopausal decay and death! I don't need you, Max. Now get out of here!
- 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.
- Television will never be the same!
- Prepare yourself for a perfectly outrageous motion picture!