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  • Acceptable Ethnic Targets: When Beale's show is a ratings champion, and UBS is on the way to its most successful period, Beale delivers a powerful rant about the Arabs buying up land and businesses in America, particularly CCA, the parent company of UBS. And, in a break from previous speeches, he urges viewers to send complaints about this to the White House.
  • Award Snub:
    • A few critics considered it deserved Best Picture more than Rocky.
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    • Inversely, Beatrice Straight's Best Supporting Actress award is somewhat controversial now. Most everyone agrees it's a powerful performance, but for an actress who didn't do much film work (mainly stage and television) to win for what amounted to an extended walk-on role over two iconic performances (Piper Laurie in Carrie and Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver) looks very odd, though those two not winning are understandable (Laurie falling victim to the Horror Ghetto, and the Academy not wanting to give an award to a portrayal of a 12-year-old prostitute). With the previous year's Supporting Actress winner Lee Grant nominated again, it effectively made it a two-person race between Straight and Jane Alexander for a similarly-small role in All the President's Men.
  • "Common Knowledge": It's often claimed that a young Tim Robbins plays one of the assassins in the final scene. Robbins (who would've still been in high school at the time) is on record denying this, but it's been propagated everywhere from IMDB to Turner Classic Movies.
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  • Crazy Awesome: Howard Beale, crazy old man and anti-establishment champion; they didn't call him "the mad prophet of the airwaves" for nothing.
    Jensen: Good morning, Mr. Beale. They tell me you're a madman.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Ned Beatty as Arthur Jensen. He appears in just two scenes, but for a lot of viewers he's the second-most memorable character after Howard Beale. He only worked on the film for one day, and got an Oscar nomination.
    • And of course Beatrice Straight as Louise Schumacher, who's only in three short scenes, still the smallest role to ever win an acting Oscar. If you're watching this for the first time and know she won Best Supporting Actress, you might wonder why, since she's hardly even in the film... until you get to that scene with Max.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • The entire film, given Peter Finch's death a few months after the film's release. His fainting at the end of his monologues and the ending are even more difficult to watch, especially if you know that Finch's fatal heart attack happened the morning after he appeared as a guest on The Tonight Show.
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    • One specific example: A fourth major television network, backed by a huge corporation, built upon content that's trashier than its rivals. One of its flagship shows features Real Life footage of criminals, and it quickly cancels any shows that don't keep up in the ratings? This may as well have been a documentary on the rise of Fox, if it hadn't been made in 1976.
    • A meta example. Peter Finch, an Australian previously Oscar-nominated for playing a homosexual man, died soon after playing the part of an anti-establishment nutcase and ended up winning a posthumous Oscar for the role. Who does that remind you of?
    • At the beginning of the film, they mention a journalist named "Snowden" in conjunction with a story about the CIA.
    • The concept of violent criminals filming their crimes while performing them (and in particular the final scene with reference to that) and subsequently broadcasting the footage has become this in the wake of extremist execution videos.
    • A major part of UBS' Network Decay is that they give airtime to unstable loons like Howard Beale and extremists like the Ecumenical Liberation Army, allowing them to spout their propaganda virtually unchallenged simply because people think it's entertaining. This became a major criticism of both the "traditional" media and newer social media in the 21st century, that they were delegating their responsibility and giving platforms to violent radicals in the name of ratings and clicks.
    • In one of his early outlines, Paddy Chayefsky summed up a main theme of the story as being “It is possible through television to take a small matter and blow it up to monumental proportions.” You could only imagine how he would've responded to the Internet, which can be much, much worse in that regard.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Beale's first remarks on the air after he learns he's fired is that he ran out of bullshit, which then turns his show into a rant program. Sounds much like You Know Whats Bullshit.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Arthur Jensen.
  • Memetic Mutation: Beale's "mad as Hell" speech, both in-universe and in Real Life as well.
  • Misaimed Fandom: It bears repeating that while the character of Howard Beale may appear to be a fiery crusader for the common man, he is also an individual undergoing a severe and prolonged mental breakdown, and the film makes clear his behavior is not to be emulated. This, however, doesn't seem to stop people (both fictional and non-fictional) from claiming him as an inspiration.
    • This is also a source of Fridge Horror both in the film and in real life. Beale, in the midst of a mental breakdown, is being exploited by those around him for the sake of ratings, and he is ultimately murdered because his ratings slip. While he hasn’t explicitly stated this, Glenn Beck has obliquely hinted in recent years that he was suffering from psychological disorders during his tenure at HLN and Fox News Channel, which leads to the inevitable question of whether he was also being exploited at the time.
  • My Real Daddy: Sidney Lumet was the director, and Paddy Chayefsky was the writer and co-producer, but Chayefsky also acted as a de facto co-director. Chayefsky mainly worked with the actors to get the delivery he wanted of his dialogue, but also, as producer, was allowed to overrule Lumet. The two men generally saw eye-to-eye on things, however.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Amusingly, you can spot a young Perry White among UBS's news staff.
    • Man, in that scene where Diane Christansen meets with Laureen Hobbs, that one executive with the blue denim suit looks pretty swanky—Wait, is that Lance Henriksen?
    • Diana's assistant Barbara is played by a young Conchata Ferrell, before she became a prolific actress on TV dramas and played Berta on Two and a Half Men.
  • Signature Scene: Beale's "mad as Hell" rant.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Diana, for the reasons explained in Values Dissonance below.
  • Values Dissonance: Diana may be an enthusiastically amoral borderline sociopath, but Max's line to her, "I love you. And that painful, decaying love is the only thing between you and the shrieking nothingness you live the rest of the day." is still disturbing on several different levels: To a modern audience, a paraphrased version of "You're so damaged only I can love you," sounds more like emotional abuse than an (anti)heroic Shut Up, Hannibal!. This turns into Fridge Horror when you remember Diana said she'd been seeing a psychologist for years and thinks she's inept at everything but her job, suggesting that her Card-Carrying Villain persona covers a lot of insecurity and self-loathing. It gets even worse when you realize much of that self-loathing is because Diana "apparently [has] a masculine temperament," so her emotional detachment may be an example of living down to expectations in a sexist society. Ironically, Diana was written to be as unsympathetic as possible, and Sidney Lumet strongly discouraged Faye Dunaway from adding any human goodness to the character.
  • Values Resonance: This film's satirical take on news channels only grows more relevant with every passing year - still ringing every bit as true in the 21st century (if not moreso) as in 1976.
  • Villain Has a Point: Arthur Jensen's speech where he converts Beale to his point of view is actually a fairly decent defense of financial globalism as a force for good.


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