November 27, 2009

“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

We’ve heard a lot about angry voters this past year. Some media pundits make it sound like it’s a new phenomenon.

But, of course, it’s not.

In recent stories about angry voters — and in comments posted on websites by those angry voters — a common quote used is: “I'm mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

When a source is given for that quote, it’s usually cited as a line by actor Peter Finch from the movie Network, which premiered in New York City on November 27, 1976.

Finch does say something very close to that in the movie. But the commonly heard “I’m mad as hell” version is not his actual quote.

Network was written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Sidney Lumet. In addition to Peter Finch, the superb cast includes Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Robert Duvall, and Ned Beatty.

What Finch actually says in Network, as Howard Beale, “the mad prophet of the airwaves” is:

“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

He says the line a number of times in the movie, using “I’m as mad as” and “take this” — not “I’m mad as” and “take it.”

You can watch the scene in which Finch first unleashes his frequently misquoted line on YouTube and read an excellent in-depth summary of Network on the AMC website.

If you didn’t know Network is a 1976 movie, you might think Finch’s famed, glorious rant in it is a commentary on today’s current events.

He starts out by saying:

“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.”

After warming up a bit more, Finch delivers his call to action:

“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 going to take this anymore!’”

Now that you know what Finch REALLY said in the movie Network, I’ll be mad as hell if you misquote his famous line.

And, if you ever think I’ve misquoted something on this blog, please shoot me an email or contact me via Twitter and let me know.

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