Synopsis: In the 1970s, terrorist violence is the stuff of networks' nightly news programming and the corporate structure of the UBS Television Network is changing. Meanwhile, Howard Beale, the aging UBS news anchor, has lost his once strong ratings share and so the network fires him. Beale reacts in an unexpected way. We then see how this affects the fortunes of Beale, his coworkers (Max Schumacher and Diana Christensen), and the network.
Genre: Drama
Director(s): Sidney Lumet
Production: MGM/United Artists
  Won 4 Oscars. Another 16 wins & 25 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
121 min

This story is about Howard Beale...

...who was the Network News anchorman

on UBS TV.

In his time, Howard Beale

had been a mandarin of television.

The grand old man of news, with a HU rating of 16 and a 28 audience share.

In 1969, however,

his fortunes began to decline.

He fell to a 22 share.

The following year his wife died,

and he was left a childless widower...

...with an 8 rating and a 12 share.

He became morose and isolated,

began to drink heavily.

And on September 22, 1975,

he was fired...

...effective in two weeks.

The news was broken to him

by Max Schumacher...

...who was the president

of the news division at UBS.

The two old friends got properly pissed.

I was at CBS with Ed Murrow in 1951.

Must've been 1950, then.

I was NBC, uh, associate producer,

Morning News.

I was just a kid, 26 years old.


Anyway, they were building the lower level

of the George Washington Bridge.

We were doing a remote from there.

And nobody told me.

Then after 7 in the morning, I get a call.

"Where the hell are you? You're supposed

to be on the George Washington Bridge."

I jump out of bed,

throw my raincoat over my pajamas.

I run down the stairs,

I run out in the street, hail a cab.

And I say to the cabby, "Take me to the

middle of the George Washington Bridge."

And the cabbie turns around

and he says....

He says, "Don't do it, buddy.

You're a young man.

You got your whole life ahead of you."

Didn't I ever tell you that one before?

I'm gonna kill myself.

Oh, sh*t, Howard.

I'm gonna blow my brains out

right on the air.

Right in the middle of the 7:00 news.

Well, you'll get a hell of a rating,

I'll guarantee you that.

-50 share easy.

-You think so?

Well, sure.

We could make a series out of it.

Suicide of the Week.

Hell. Why limit ourselves?

Execution of the Week.

Terrorist of the Week.

I love it.



Mad bombers, Mafia hit men...

...automobile smashups.

The Death Hour.

Great Sunday night show

for the whole family.

We'll wipe that f***ing Disney

right off the air.


Let's do the Lenin deportation

at the end of three.

That strong enough to bump?

In one then, I'll do a lead on Sara Jane

Moore to Mayberry in San Francisco.

In the film I saw,

it was the chief of detectives.

I think we've got about 10 seconds

on the shooting itself.

The whole thing is 1:25.

-What does that come out?

About 4:

We using Squeaky Fromme?

Let's do that in two.

Squeaky, Ford at the airport, bump.

Now, you using a map

going into San Francisco?

Um, I prefer our news pics.

What have we got left?

Gun control, Patty Hearst affidavit.

Guerrillas in Chad, OPEC in Vienna.

All right, fine. I'll see you later.

-Hello, Howard, how are you?

Hi. Okay.

Don't forget, Howard,

Ron Nessen is now 16, okay?


The first attempt on President Ford's life

was 18 days ago...

...and again yesterday in San Francisco.

In spite of the two attempts...

...Mr. Ford says he will not become

a prisoner of the Oval Office...

...a hostage of would-be assassins.

The American people are good people:

Democrats, Independents,

Republicans and others.

How the hell you always get mixed up....

Under no circumstances will I...

...and I hope no others, capitulate... those that want to undercut...

...what's all good in America.

Two, cue Howard.

Ladies and gentlemen...

...I would like to announce

that I will be retiring from this program... two weeks' time

because of poor ratings.

Since this show was the only thing

I had going for me in my life...

...I have decided to kill myself.

So, what did she say?

I'm gonna blow my brains out

right on this program, a week from today.

Ten seconds to commercial.

So tune in next Tuesday.

That should give the public-relations people

a week to promote the show.

We ought to get a hell of a rating

out of that. A 50 share, easy.

Take Tellison.


-Uh, did you hear that?

-What was that about?

Howard just said he was going

to blow his brains out next Tuesday.

What are you talking about?

-Didn't you hear him? He just said--

-What's wrong now?

Howard just said he was going

to kill himself next Tuesday.

What do you mean, "Howard just said

he was going to kill himself next Tuesday"?

He was supposed to do a tag

on Ron Nessen--

He said, "Tune in next Tuesday.

I'm gonna shoot myself."

What the hell's going on?

He said he

was going to blow his brains out.

What the f***'s going on, Howard?

They wanna know

what the f***'s going on.

-I can't hear you.

-Turn the studio mike on.

-We're back on in 11 seconds.

Ten seconds.

Howard, what are you doing?

-Have you flipped?

-I think we better get him off.

-Get him off.

-What's the matter with you?

-Get your f***ing hands off.

-Turn the sound off. He's going out live!

We're in a lot of f***ing trouble

down here.

-This is the dumbest thing I've ever seen.

That's my head.

Go to standby. You dumb schmuck!

Lou, can't we clear out

that downstairs lobby?

-There must be a hundred people.


Every TV station and wire service

in the city. I could barely get in.

-Arthur, anything litigable?

-Not so far.

How many spots were wiped out?

-Frank just walked in.

We had to abort. What could we do?

He's talking to Wheeler.

Over 900 phone calls...

-...complaining about foul language.


Come on, Mickey,

what page are you putting it on?

Hackett just walked in.

-ABC again, they want the tape.

Tell him to go f*** himself.

That goes for you too.

You're off the air as of now.

He wants to talk to you.

-Who's replacing Beale tomorrow?

-We're flying Snowden up from Washington.

-Everybody, hold it.

Let's see how the other networks

handle this.

Ten o'clock news opened with it.

Good evening.

Howard Beale, one of television's....

They're all gonna make it their lead story.

Howard Beale interrupted his

Network News program tonight... announce

that he was gonna kill himself.

An unusual thing happened at one

of our sister networks, UBS, this evening.

How are we handling it?

Halloway's going to make a brief statement

at the end of the show...

...that Howard's been under

great personal stress, et cetera.

I'll call you back, John.

All right. We've got

a stockholders' meeting tomorrow... which we're gonna announce

the restructuring-of-management plan.

I don't want this grotesque incident

to interfere with that.

I'll suggest Mr. Ruddy open with a short

statement, washing this whole thing off.

You, Max,

you better have some answers...

...for those nuts

that come to stockholders' meetings.

Mr. Beale has been under

professional and personal strain.

I've got some surprises

for you too, Schumacher.

I've had it up to here with your cruddy

division and its annual $33 million deficit!

You keep your hands off

my news division, Frank.

We're responsible to corporate level,

not you.

-Well, goddamn, we'll see about that.

-All right, take it easy.

Rate this script:5.0 / 1 vote

Paddy Chayefsky

Sidney Aaron "Paddy" Chayefsky was an American playwright, screenwriter and novelist. He is the only person to have won three solo Academy Awards for Best Screenplay. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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