During almost every recent election season, political commentators seem to talk about “angry voters” of one kind or another.
These disgruntled voters are usually said to be angry about certain current events or something politicians did or didn’t do.
During the last presidential election, I even saw one story that claimed “angry voters are now angry at the angry voters.”
In many stories about angry voters — and in online posts made by angry voters — a common quote used is: “I'm mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
Finch does say something very close to that in the movie.
But the commonly-heard “I’m mad as hell” version is not the actual movie quote.
In addition to Peter Finch, the superb cast includes Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Robert Duvall, and Ned Beatty.
What Finch actually says in the movie, as network news anchorman Howard Beale, “the mad prophet of the airwaves,” is:
by watching the movie or by viewing the scene in which he first unleashes his frequently misquoted line on YouTube.
“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
There’s also an excellent in-depth summary of Network on the AMC website. (It uses the word “gonna” in place of “going to,” though to my ears and in the script, Finch clearly says “going to”).
If you didn’t know Network was released in 1976, you might think the glorious rant Finch gives in it is a commentary on more recent times.
He starts out by saying: “I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad.”
After warming up a bit more by citing a list of bad things, he 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!’”
Ironically, in Chayefsky’s original script, Howard Beale is supposed to say “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.”
But when the scene the line is first used in was filmed, Peter Finch spontaneously said, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.”
Director Lumet decided to keep the line as Finch spoke it, thus creating a movie quote that’s often misquoted, but which is itself a misquote of what was written in the script.
If you’re interested in misquotes, you can read about some others I’ve discussed in past posts by clicking this link, or by buying books like Ralph Keyes' The Quote Verifier and Nice Guys Finish Seventh, Garson O'Toole's Hemingway Didn't Say That, Elizabeth Knowles’ What They Didn't Say, or They Never Said It by Paul F. Boller and John George.
In the meantime, if you’re as mad as hell about the what’s happening in your community, your state, or in the US, get out and vote, damnit!
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