Classic Scene: “Mad as Hell”

“Mad as hell”

Network (1976)

Directed by Sidney Lumet

The Scene: Faced with declining ratings, veteran news anchor Howard Beale (Peter Finch) is given notice that his time behind the desk is coming to an end. But Beale refuses to go out with a whimper, on this night he ignores the teleprompter and speaks frankly to his audience. Everything is going to Hell and people bury their heads in the sand in the form of TV. Beale lays it all on the line, not offering any solutions because he does not know what the solution is. What he does know is that fixing things stars with people getting mad and standing up proclaiming “I’m a human godammit! My life has value!”. Rising from his seat he tells his television audience to stick their heads out the window and yell loudly for all to hear “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”. Inspired by his impassioned plea, viewers around the country shout from their open windows following suit,

The Breakdown: You may have noticed from the…well everything, that the world right now is a tumultuous place filled with chaos, strife, environmental disaster, economic upheaval etc. It is enough to make you pound your fists and scream into the void. Acclaimed screenwriter and playwright Paddy Chayefsky distilled the rage against the angst of his day into one of the greatest monologues in film history culminating in a rallying cry. This particular cry has gone down in history as one of the most memorable lines in movie history that has been recited, parodied, and saluted ever since Finch yelled it out in the newsroom. Speaking of Peter Finch it is easy to see that this is most likely the moment he clinched the Oscar for the roll winning the first posthumously awarded statue.

Best Bit: Yelling along with Peter Finch in real life. There is something both fun and cathartic in screaming to the world “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”.