Network is a 1976 satirical film about a fictional television network, Union... more »
Network is a 1976 satirical film 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." 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.
Long-time "UBS Evening News" anchor Howard Beale is fired because of declining ratings. He has two more weeks on the air, but the following night, Beale announces on live television that he will commit suicide by shooting himself in the head during an upcoming live broadcast. UBS immediately fires him after this incident, but they let him back on the air, ostensibly for a dignified farewell, with persuasion from Beale's best friend and president of the News division Max Schumacher, the network's old guard news editor. Beale promises that he will apologize for his outburst, but instead rants about how life is "bullshit". Sympathetic towards Beale, and bitter over the station's treatment of him, Schumacher decides to keep him on the air to vent his frustrations. While there are serious repercussions, the program's ratings soar and, 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 audience that, on cue, repeats the Beale's marketed catchphrase en masse.
Howard Beale (Peter Finch) delivering his "mad as hell" speech