1976: 'Network' Newsman Rants, 'I'm As Mad As Hell, And I'm Not Going To Take This Anymore!'


Even if you’ve never seen the 1976 movie Network, you know the line delivered by TV newsman Howard Beale (Peter Finch): "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore." It crystallizes the anger and powerlessness felt by the individual who has no recourse, options or plan. It is anger without a clear target -- just general anger at the disappointing state of modern life. 

The line becomes Beale's catchphrase as he proceeds to "tell it like it is" and soar to the top of the TV ratings chart. Beale is mad at TV, not just the news but also the fakeness of other programming. He's mad at the fear that keeps people indoors, watching TV. He's mad at inflation and the Russians. But as the brilliant scriptwriter Paddy Chayefsky intended, we never know what Beale wants. 

Beale inspires viewers and earns a bullet for his convictions by the end of the film. For Chayefsky, the film was always meant to be a comedy, but his work connected so deeply with viewers who felt that he understood the downfall of the nightly news that he was hailed as a modern Nostradamus. Here’s what Chayefsky thought about the line, how he wrote it, and how it’s misconstrued through pop culture.