This was the story of Howard Beale, the first known instance of a man who was killed because he had lousy ratings.
Some of these monologues contain #SPOILERS so don’t watch if you are worried about ruining a film you might enjoy at a later date.
The 1976 Sidney Lumet movie Network tell the story of a fictional television network, UBS, and its struggle with poor ratings.
It is one of those classic cinema films which is just brimming with superb acting but – quite uniquely – it’s script is almost theatrical and contains some of the finest monologues which you will ever see on the silver screen, which you can watch below.
The movie caused a sensation in 1976… Seen a quarter-century later, it is like prophecy. When Chayefsky created Howard Beale, could he have imagined Jerry Springer, Howard Stern and the World Wrestling Federation? … In Network, which is rarely thought of as a “director’s picture,” it is Sidney Lumet’s unobtrusive skill that allows all those different notes and energy levels to exist within the same film. In other hands, the film might have whirled to pieces. In his, it became a touchstone
The film is a critique on the future of television in the late 1970’s and almost all of it’s messages have spookily come true in today’s media obsessed world. It dipicts a ‘lurid wasteland of television journalism where entertainment value and short-term ratings were more crucial than quality.’
That 90 percent of its satire has become fulfilled prophecy by now doesn’t take the shine off of its broadsword. It feels in the watching like a hilarious organic nightmare, but Network is very much a carefully crafted object, its structure brilliantly hidden, its sardonic flourishes made with a wide variety of weapons, its absurdities riding coach with hardcore realism
Three of it’s stars earned acting Oscars – Peter Finch won the Best Actor award for his role as an unbalanced news anchor Howard Beale, Finch is the only other actor than Heath Ledger to win a post-humous Oscar, Faye Dunaway won the Best Actress award for her pitch perfect portrayal of manipulative and ruthless VP of programming Diana Christensen and Beatrice Straight won Best Supporting Actress for her heartbreaking and powerfully realistic portrayal of cheated wife Louise Schumacher. Straight’s performance is the shortest performance to ever win an Oscar, she is only in one scene taking up just five minutes of screen time.
This movie needs to be in your collection. Give it a watch, you won’t be disappointed.
Beatrice Straight – I’m your wife, damn it!
“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!
I hurt! Don’t you understand that? I hurt badly!”
Peter Finch – Mad as Hell
“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 TV’s 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, God damn it! 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!” ”
Faye Dunaway – I don’t want to play butch boss
“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 outselves a series…
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 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? ”
Ned Beatty – The world is a business, Mr. Beale.
“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 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. And I have chosen you, Mr. Beale, to preach this evangel. ”
Peter Finch – Listen to me: Television is not the truth!
“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 has 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 God-damned force in the whole godless world, and woe is us if it ever falls in to 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 twentieth floor. And when the twelfth largest company in the world controls the most awesome God-damned propoganda 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 is a God-damned amusement park! Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, side-show 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 going to find any real truth. ”
William Holden – You’re television incarnate, Diana
“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.
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.
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.”