Best Film Speeches
and Monologues

1976


Best Film Speeches and Monologues
Film Title/Year and Description of Film Speech/Monologue
Screenshots

All the President's Men (1976)
Screenwriter(s): William Goldman

Editor in Chief's Cautionary Lecture to Reporters

Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee (Jason Robards) cautioned his two reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman) about their preliminary 'Watergate' findings, late at night outside his residence after they told him: "Everyone is involved" - he gave his go-ahead for his reporters to print their story:

You know the results of the latest Gallup Poll? Half the country never even heard of the word Watergate. Nobody gives a s--t. You guys are probably pretty tired, right? Well, you should be. Go on home, get a nice hot bath, rest up 15 minutes, then get your asses back in gear. We're under a lot of pressure, you know, and you put us there.

Nothing's riding on this except the, uh, First Amendment to the Constitution, freedom of the press, and maybe the future of the country. Not that any of that matters, but if you guys f--k up again, I'm gonna get mad. Goodnight.

Network (1976)
Screenwriter(s): Paddy Chayefsky

"I Want Angry Shows"

Smart and driven UBS-TV programmer Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway) expressed her desire to do anything to improve network ratings, including having a show based upon a real-life terrorist group:

Diana: "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..."

George Bosch (John Carpenter): "A series about a bunch of, uh, bank-robbing guerrillas?"

Barbara Schlesinger (Conchata Ferrell): "What are we gonna call it - the Mao Tse-Tung Hour?"

Diana: "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 f--ked 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 counter-culture. I want anti-establishment. (She shut the door)

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 20. This network is an industry joke. We 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. That 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 f--king lot of you, is that clear?"



Network (1976)
Screenwriter(s): Paddy Chayefsky

On a Mission to Speak the Truth

Play clip (excerpt): Network

"Mad prophet of the airwaves" news anchor Howard Beale (Peter Finch), believed he had been inspired by a "shrill, sibilant, faceless Voice" that awakened him from sleep. He had been given a mission on television "to tell the people the truth - not an easy thing to do because the people don't want to know the truth":

Last night, I was awakened from a fitful sleep, shortly after 2 o'clock in the morning by a shrill, sibilant, faceless voice. I couldn't make it out at first in the dark bedroom. And I said, 'I'm sorry, you will have to talk a little louder.'...And the Voice said to me: 'I want you to tell the people the truth, not an easy thing to do because the people don't want to know the truth.' And I said, 'You're kidding. What the hell should I know about the truth?' But the Voice said to me: 'Don't worry about the truth. I will put the words in your mouth.' And I said, 'What is this, the burning bush? For God's sake, I'm not Moses.' And the Voice said to me: 'And I'm not God. What has that got to do with it?'

And the Voice said to me: 'We're not talking about eternal truth or absolute truth or ultimate truth. We're talking about impermanent, transient, human truth. I don't expect you people to be capable of truth, but god-dammit, at least you're capable of self-preservation!' And I said, 'Why me?' And the Voice said: 'Because you're on television, dummy! You have 40 million Americans listening to you and after the show you could have 50 million. For Pete's sake, I'm not asking you to walk the land in sackcloth and ashes preaching the Armageddon. You're on TV, man.' So I thought about it for a moment, and then I said, 'Ok.'



Network (1976)
Screenwriter(s): Paddy Chayefsky

"I'm As Mad As Hell and I'm Not Gonna Take This Anymore!"

Top Pick

Play clip (excerpt): Network (short)
Play clip (excerpt): Network (long)

TV announcer Howard Beale's (Peter Finch) "mad as hell" speech to his viewers:

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 TVs 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. (shouting) You've got to say: 'I'm a human being, god-dammit! 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 gonna 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 gonna 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 gonna 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 gonna take this anymore!'







Network (1976)
Screenwriter(s): Paddy Chayefsky

"We Deal in Illusions" - Turn Off Your Television Sets

Play clip (excerpt): Network

"Mad Prophet of the Airwaves" Howard Beale (Peter Finch) delivered his "we deal in illusions" speech, attacking television itself:

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 does 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-damn force in the whole godless world. And woe is us if it ever falls into 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 20th floor. And when the twelfth largest company in the world controls the most awesome, god-damn propaganda force in the whole godless world, who knows what s--t will be peddled for truth on this network.

So, you listen to me. Listen to me! Television is not the truth. Television's a god-damned amusement park. Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, sideshow 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 gonna find any real truth. But, man, you're never gonna get any truth from us. We'll tell you anything you wanna hear. We lie like hell. We'll tell you that, uh, Kojak always gets the killer and that nobody ever gets cancer at Archie Bunker's house. And no matter how much trouble the hero is in, don't worry. Just look at your watch. At the end of the hour, he's gonna win. We'll tell you any s--t you want to hear.

We deal in illusions, man. None of it is true! But you people sit there day after day, night after night, all ages, colors, creeds. We're all you know. You're beginning to believe the illusions we're spinning here. You're beginning to think that the tube is reality and that your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you. You dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube. You even think like the tube. This is mass madness. You maniacs. In God's name, you people are the real thing. We are the illusion. So turn off your television sets. Turn them off now. Turn them off right now. Turn them off and leave them off. Turn them off right in the middle of this sentence I am speaking to you now. Turn them off!

As he exorted his audience, his eyes circled around and he collapsed to the onstage floor in a swoon - a show-stopping seizure.






Network (1976)
Screenwriter(s): Paddy Chayefsky

Husband Berating

The superb and moving (and Oscar-winning) monologue in which Max Schumacher's (William Holden) wife Louise (Beatrice Straight) berated her husband for unfaithfulness with Diana (Faye Dunaway):

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! (sobbing) I hurt! Don't you understand that? I hurt badly!

After hugging Louise, Max responded to Louise's query if Diane loved him ("Does she love you, Max?"). He dismissed Diana as shallow and work-obsessed:

I'm not sure she's capable of any real feelings. She's television generation. She learned life from Bugs Bunny. The only reality she knows comes to her from over the TV set. She has very carefully devised a number of scenarios for all of us to play, like a Movie of the Week. And, my God, look at us, Louise. Here we are going through the obligatory middle-of-act-two 'scorned wife throws peccant husband out' scene. But don't worry, I'll come back to you in the end. All of her plot outlines have me leaving her and coming back to you because the audience won't buy a rejection of the happy American family. She does have one script in which I kill myself. An adapted for television version of Anna Karenina where she's Count Vronsky and I'm Anna.



Network (1976)
Screenwriter(s): Paddy Chayefsky

Fear of an Arab Buy-Out

During another broadcast of "The Howard Beale Show," the "mad prophet" Howard (Peter Finch) criticized the growing economic take-over power of Arabs, who were conspiratorially buying up parts of the US. In fact, the conglomerate/corporation that owned Beale's network was tied to Arab interests:

Now you listen to me. And listen carefully, because this is your goddamn life I'm talking about today. In this country, when one company wants to take over another company, they simply buy up a controlling share of the stock. But first, they have to file notice with the government. That's how CCA took over the company that owns this network. But now somebody is buying up CCA. Somebody called the Western World Funding Corporation. They filed the notice this morning.

Well, just who in the hell is the Western World Funding Corporation? It is a consortium of banks and insurance companies who are not buying CCA for themselves but as agents for somebody else. And who is this somebody else? They won't tell you. They won't tell you, they won't tell the Senate, they won't tell the SEC, the FCC, they won't tell the Justice Department, they won't tell anybody. They say it's none of our business. The hell it ain't! I will tell you who they're buying CCA for. They're buying it for the Saudi-Arabian Investment Corporation. They're buying it for the Arabs...

We all know that the Arabs control sixteen billion dollars in this country. They own a chunk of Fifth Avenue, twenty downtown pieces of Boston, a part of the port of New Orleans, an industrial park in Salt Lake City. They own big hunks of the Atlanta Hilton, the Arizona Land and Cattle Company, the Security National Bank in California, the Bank of the Commonwealth in Detroit. They control ARAMCO, so that puts them into Exxon, Texaco, and Mobil Oil. They're all over - New Jersey, Louisville, St. Louis Missouri. And that's only what we know about! There's a hell of a lot more we don't know about because all of the those Arab petro-dollars are washed through Switzerland and Canada and the biggest banks in this country.

For example, what we don't know about is this CCA deal and all the other CCA deals. Right now, the Arabs have screwed us out of enough American dollars to come right back and with our own money, buy General Motors, IBM, ITT, AT&T, DuPont, US Steel, and twenty other American companies. Hell, they already own half of England.

So listen to me. Listen to me, god-dammit! The Arabs are simply buying us. There's only one thing that can stop them. You! You! So, I want you to get up now. I want you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the phone. I want you to get up from your chairs, go to the phone, get in your cars, drive into the Western Union offices in town. I want you to send a telegram to the White House. By midnight tonight, I want a million telegrams in the White House. I want them wading knee-deep in telegrams at the White House. I want you to get up right now and write a telegram to President Ford saying: 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not gonna take this anymore! I don't want the banks selling my country to the Arabs! I want the CCA deal stopped now!' I want the CCA deal stopped now.



Network (1976)
Screenwriter(s): Paddy Chayefsky

Board Chair's Description of the Corporate "New World"

Play clip (excerpt): Network

Angered UBS Chairman of the Board, corporate pitchman and business magnate Arthur Jensen (Ned Beatty) summoned Beale into his imposing conference room ("Valhalla"): "They say I can sell anything. I'd like to try to sell something to you." In one of the best-acted scenes in the film, Jensen devastated "mad-hatter" Beale with an evangelical lecture - a hypnotic, spell-binding, convincing, God-like oratorical speech (mocking Beale's own style) about the facts of international business and commerce - the corporate mentality. He described the unimportance of individuals and the overarching omnipotence of currency as the center of the universe:

You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won't have it! Is that clear?! Do 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, multi-variate, multi-national 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 sub-atomic 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 by-laws 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. (Beale: "Why me?") Because you're on television, dummy. Sixty million people watch you every night of the week, Monday through Friday. (Beale: "I have seen the face of God.") You just might be right, Mr. Beale.



Network (1976)
Screenwriter(s): Paddy Chayefsky

"It's the Single, Solitary Human Being That's Finished"

Terrified, Howard Beale (Peter Finch) was pressured and forced by Arthur Jensen (Ned Beatty) to start preaching about dehumanization and the death of democracy. He returned to the airwaves to preach Jensen's corporate truth, championing corporate rather than individual human rights. The announcer stated: "That evening, Howard Beale went on the air to preach the corporate cosmology of Arthur Jensen":

Last night I got up here and asked you people to stand up and fight for your heritage, and you did, and it was beautiful. Six million telegrams were received at the White House. The Arab takeover of CCA has been stopped. The people spoke, the people won. It was a radiant eruption of democracy. But I think that was it, fellas. That sort of thing is not likely to happen again. Because at the bottom of all our terrified souls, we know that democracy is a dying giant, a sick, sick dying, decaying political concept, writhing in its final pain. I don't mean that the United States is finished as a world power. The United States is the richest, the most powerful, the most advanced country in the world, light-years ahead of any other country. And I don't mean the Communists are gonna take over the world, because the Communists are deader than we are.

What is finished is the idea that this great country is dedicated to the freedom and flourishing of every individual in it. It's the individual that's finished. It's the single, solitary human being that's finished. It's every single one of you out there that's finished. Because this is no longer a nation of independent individuals. It's a nation of some two hundred odd million transistorized, deodorized, whiter-than-white, steel-belted bodies, totally unnecessary as human beings and as replaceable as piston rods.

Well, the time has come to say is 'dehumanization' such a bad word?' Whether it's good or bad, that's what is so. The whole world is becoming humanoid, creatures that look human but aren't. The whole world, not just us. We're just the most advanced country, so we're getting there first. The whole world's people are becoming mass-produced, programmed, numbered, insensate things...



Network (1976)
Screenwriter(s): Paddy Chayefsky

"Death is Suddenly a Perceptible Thing to Me"

The middle-aged Max Schumacher (William Holden), at the end of his affair with emotionless and cold Diana (Faye Dunaway), expressed his guilt about the pain and suffering he had caused, and then described his own impending mortality:

And I'm tired of finding you on the god-damn telephone every time I turn around. I'm tired of being an accessory in your life! And I'm tired of pretending to write this dumb book about my maverick days in the great early years of television. Every god-damned executive fired from a network in the last twenty years has written this dumb book about the great early years of television. And nobody wants a dumb, damn, god-damn book about the great years of television...After living with you for six months, I'm turning into one of your scripts. Well, this is not a script, Diana. There's some real actual life going on here. I went to visit my wife today because she's in a state of depression, so depressed that my daughter flew all the way from Seattle to be with her.

And I feel lousy about that. I feel lousy about the pain that I've caused my wife and my kids. I feel guilty and conscience-stricken and all of those things that you think sentimental, but which my generation called simple human decency. And I miss my home because I'm beginning to get scared s--tless. Because all of a sudden, it's closer to the end than it is to the beginning, and death is suddenly a perceptible thing to me - with definable features. You're dealing with a man that has primal doubts, Diana, and you've got to cope with it. I'm not some guy discussing male menopause on the 'Barbara Walters Show'. I'm the man that you presumably love. I'm part of your life. I live here. I'm real. You can't switch to another station...I just want you to love me. I just want you to love me, primal doubts and all. You understand that, don't you?

Diana, raised within the world of ratings and soul-less television scripts, felt no compassion about his real-life script of guilt, pain and his need for love: She responded: "I don't know how to do that."




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