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Written by Timothy Sexton
"I'm mad as hell an I'm not going to take it anymore!"
Coming in at number 19 on the American Film Institute list of the 100 Greatest American Movie Quotes of all time, this is the easily the most familiar quote from Network. It is also the cry for understanding that kicks off the narrative thrust of the movie to transform the way that networks news gets presented as entertainment.
“She learned life from Bugs Bunny.”
The “she” is Max’s mistress and ambitious network exec Diane Christensen. He prefaces this description by suggesting that Diane lacks any real capacity of emotion, suggesting that she has learned how she is supposed respond emotionally from fictional representations she watched on TV.
“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 interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rubles, pounds, and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet.”
Much has made about the way that Network foresaw the future of the commingling of news and entertainment into the current “infotainment” dichotomy. Less often referenced is Jensen’s on-the-mark prediction of the crumbling of old national alliances and the creation of a world dominated by economic globalization. The world is not quite where the Chairman of the conglomerate that owns the TV network, Jensen, suggests it was yet, but every day it grows closer.
“I'm going to blow my brains out right on this program a week from today.”
The first real indication that Howard Beale is suffering from the kind of mental instability that Diane co-opts into entertainment is manifested with this on-the-air announcement. Such is the state of predictability to which his newscast has devolved, however, that some in the directorial booth controlling the transmission completely ignore the substance of what he has just promises.
“Then 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?”
This is almost literally the entire performance given by Beatrice Straight, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for Network. With just five minutes of screen time, Straight’s is the briefest appearance ever by an Oscar winner and the bulk of that five minutes is made of this long speech.
"This was the story of Howard Beale: The first known instance of a man who was killed because he had lousy ratings."
These are the final lines of the movie. The closing lines represent an attempt to make one last ironic imprint upon audiences in celebration of the edginess of the drama they have just witness. The humor seems a bit strained today, doubtlessly, but in light of the film being viewed as outlandish satire by audiences, but almost a documentary by its makers this final exclamation point may have been deemed necessary in order to ensure that viewers did, indeed, receive the transmission as outlandish.
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