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  • AFI's 100 Years... Series:
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: The actual line from Howard Beale's rant is "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" Often misquoted as "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore!" Also, Beale doesn't shout it out the window; only his viewers do, although their wording differs slightly... which makes this case of Beam Me Up, Scotty! understandable. Another element factoring into this is that the "as mad as Hell" version of the line was a flub that was left in the final product; the "mad as Hell" one actually is how it was meant to be written.
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  • California Doubling: For once, inverted, with the New York exurbs doubling for California and Arizona (where the Ecumenical Liberation Army filmed their bank robbery). For various cost and logistical reasons, the TV studio scenes were shot in Toronto.
  • Cast the Expert:
    • Arthur Burghardt (the Great Ahmed Khan) was an actual ex-convict, serving several years in prison for Draft Dodging.
    • Darryl Hickmannote , who played Bill Herron (the bearded UBS program exec who screens the ELA bank robbery footage), worked as a network executive for a while after he gave up acting full-time as an adult (he'd been a prolific child actor).
  • Creator's Favorite Episode: Sidney Lumet thought this was his best film, and Faye Dunaway holds it in high regard, naming the climactic scene where the UBS brass discusses what to do with Howard Beale as her single favorite scene of her entire acting career.
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  • Deleted Scene: One scene in the shooting script that never got filmed was Diana, during her visit to California, going to a gay bar to hire a male hustler for sex.
  • Doing It for the Art: Peter Finch was desperate to win the role of Howard Beale once he had read the script. He even offered to pay his own airfare to New York for the screen test.
    • He was initially not considered because the producers felt he couldn't convincingly fake an American accent. So he played them a tape he had made of himself reading newspapers in an American accent. Along with his screen test, the tapes clinched the deal.
  • Fake American: Peter Finch, born in England, raised in Australia, and living in Jamaica at the time, as Howard Beale.
  • Jossed: It has long been rumored that Tim Robbins made his film debut playing an assassin at the film's end. But Robbins has debunked that rumor, saying he was still in high school at the time.
  • Looping Lines: One of Louise's lines was very obviously post-dubbed, because Beatrice Straight mispronounced "emeritus" as "em-er-REE-tus. Straight and Sidney Lumet both said they'd never actually heard the word spoken before, and didn't realize she was saying it wrong.
  • Mid-Development Genre Shift:
    • Network was directly descended from The Imposters, a script for a proposed TV series that Paddy Chayefsky wrote in 1969. In The Imposters, the main character is a Max Schumacher-type figure (named Eddie Gresham) who holds the job that Diana Christensen would have at UBS (which was still the name of the fictitious network even then). He tries to reconcile the junk he's been programming with his idealistic plans to produce quality programming, then concludes that it's a hopeless battle. CBS, unwilling to do a TV show that criticized TV, passed on it. Years later Chayefsky conceived the saga of Howard Beale independently, and resurrected some ideas from The Imposter.
    • Before coming up with the idea of an anchor who cracks up, Chayefsky also considered the angle of a documentary-style look at a typical day behind-the-scenes at a big network, which seems very Sorkin-like in hindsight.
  • One-Take Wonder: According to Sidney Lumet, the "Mad as Hell" speech was filmed in one and a half takes. Midway through the second take, Peter Finch abruptly stopped in exhaustion. Lumet was unaware of Finch's failing heart at the time, but in any case, did not ask for a third take. What's in the completed film is the second take for the first half of the speech, and the second half from the first take.
  • The Other Marty:
    • Arthur Jensen was orginally played by veteran character actor Roberts Blossom (best known as Old Man Marley in Home Alone). Blossom had previously played the ill-fated patient Guernsey in Chayefsky's The Hospital. Since Guernsey was another character who leads a deranged old man to cause mischief by giving him an apocalyptic sermon, Blossom as Jensen made sense on paper. But he got fired because Paddy Chayefsky didn't like his performance, and, as producer, he outranked Sidney Lumet, who thought Blossom was doing fine. Having bumped into Robert Altman during the shoot, Lumet mentioned the situation and Altman recommended Ned Beatty as a replacement. Beatty had worked with Altman in Nashville.
    • Very nearly happened with Faye Dunaway. She had trouble delivering Paddy Chayefsky's unique style of dialogue and Sidney Lumet pondered replacing her. Then she suddenly refused to do the Diana/Max sex scene, and the studio even gave Lumet and Chayefsky permission to fire her, but instead they had her agent convince her to do the scene.
  • Reality Subtext: Like Max, William Holden was in a May–December Romance at the time (with future Hart to Hart star Stefanie Powers). Peter Finch was also married to a woman who was a couple decades his junior.
  • Throw It In!: Beale's signature line was written as "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" Peter Finch inadvertently said "I'm as mad as hell", and it stayed in the final cut.
  • Unintentional Period Piece:
    • The film specifically dates itself to the 1975-76 television season by the reference to the assassination attempts against Gerald Ford, as well as, more broadly, by its depiction of the pre-cable television landscape (the fictional UBS network is portrayed as a second-string also-ran behind the "Big Three" of CBS, NBC, and ABC) and an old-style TV newsroom in the scenes before Howard Beale finally snaps. It also comes into play with the various outlandish TV shows that UBS creates afterwards, in a rare case of this trope causing Values Resonance rather than Values Dissonance. At the time, screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky (a veteran TV writer) intended the film as a satire of his experiences working in television, with Beale's fiery op-ed program and The Mao Tse-Tung Hour (following the escapades of a group of far-left Western Terrorists based on the Symbionese Liberation Army, complete with a parody of Patty Hearst) portrayed as the logical conclusion of the quest for Ratings that he had witnessed. Modern viewers have often described the film as prophetic in its anticipation of both Reality TV and assorted Pompous Political Pundit talk shows, and the effect that they had on the TV landscape.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Sidney Lumet had been Paddy Chayefsky's first choice all along to direct, but other names considered were Bob Fosse, Mike Nichols, Robert Altman, Francis Ford Coppola, John Huston, Elia Kazannote , Roman Polanski, Sydney Pollack and Martin Scorsese. Hal Ashby's name was also tossed around, but Chayefsky didn't like Shampoo.
    • Similarly, Chayefsky, Lumet and the studio put together lists of ideas for casting, finally settling on a handful of names.
      • For Howard Beale, George C. Scott, the star of The Hospital, was courted and was interested, but said no when they refused to cast his wife Trish Van Devere as Diana Christensen. Paul Newman was contacted but turned it down. Chayefsky decided on Gene Hackman as his preferred choice, with Henry Fonda (also a candidate for Max), Sterling Hayden, Jimmy Stewart, Robert Montgomery, Glenn Ford and Cary Grant as other possibilities. Peter Finch, who was never even considered, practically begged for the part.
      • Faye Dunaway was always the top choice for Diana, with consideration also given to Candice Bergen (also considered for Louise), Ellen Burstyn, Natalie Wood, Jane Fonda and Diane Keaton. Lumet pitched the idea of Vanessa Redgrave, but Chayefsky, a passionate Zionist, loathed Redgrave's support for Palestinian Liberation Army. Lumet, who like Chayfesky was Jewish, compared it to blacklisting while Chayefsky claimed, "Not when a Jew does it to a Gentile."note  Chayefsky later made waves at the Academy Awards when he chided Redgrave for her anti-Zionist comments in her acceptance speech for Julia.
      • For Max Schumacher, Lee Marvin had been Chayefsky's preferred choice, but William Holden was also always a candidate even before he formally got the role. Burt Lancaster and Walter Matthau were also short-listed. Dunaway suggested Robert Mitchum.
    • George Clooney pursued the idea of a live TV adaptation of the film around 2005, which would've been a nice bit of symmetry with Chayefsky's work on live TV dramas in The '50s. One reason it never happened is that with what eventually happened to network TV in the decades after the film, Clooney wasn't so sure that audiences would even recognize that the story was supposed to be satire.


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