What are some of the best scripts to ever be produced? Seriously, what would you put up there in a top five or a top ten? Off the top of my head, I'd probably include Chinatown, Tootsie,Back to the Future, Se7en... and I'd be doing an utter disservice to the field if I didn't include Paddy Chayefsky's searing satire of what happens when bad choices are made in television: Network.
It's also a film built for monologues, since there are numerous strewn throughout the film, with the most famous being the deranged blitzkrieg delivered by the man at the centre of it all - Howard Beale, played by Peter Finch.
The role of Howard Beale is one of a man pulled to extremes. A respected news reader who becomes a wild-eyed crazy man when he's told he's to be let go by the network. After snapping on the air, the network execs then decide to keep him on, repackaged as a modern day televisual prophet, spitting fire and blood at the state of the world around him. Though Beale actually gets relatively little screen time compared to Max Schumacher (played by William Holden), he is the lynchpin of the film. Everything that's done revolves around him and how he reacts to his situation.
The monologue itself was delivered across two takes, the first somewhat affected by Finch's ranting himself into exhaustion, likely because he was suffering from heart problems so severe that Network was his last film. He passed away shortly afterwards, and subsequently became the first performer to win a posthumous Oscar (that didn't happen again until Heath Ledger won in 2009). Still, hell of a way to go out.
Setting the scene: Despite the protests of his old friend Schumacher, Howard Beale is returned to the air by the higher authorities of the network. Given full focus and free reign, Beale arrives on set a clearly unhinged man and proceeds to use his time onscreen to rant wildly and galvanise the masses into a frenzy. Cue Howard...