R | | Drama
A television network cynically exploits a deranged former anchor's ravings and revelations about the news media for its own profit.
Paddy Chayefsky and Sidney Lumet made it clear to Faye Dunaway that they wanted a cold-blooded, soulless characterization with no sympathetic shadings. "I know the first thing you're going to ask me", Lumet told her. "Where's her vulnerability? Don't ask it. She has none. If you try to sneak it in, I'll get rid of it in the editing room, so it'll be a wasted effort." Dunaway's then-husband Peter Wolf warned her that she could risk typecasting in such a role, but Dunaway plunged ahead fearlessly.
This story is about Howard Beale, who was the news anchorman on UBS TV. In his time, Howard Beale had been a mandarin of television, the grand old man of news, with a HUT rating of 16 and a 28 audience share. In 1969, however, his fortunes began to ...
Just after Beale announces his intention to commit suicide on the air, we see a row of TV screens showing how the story is being covered by the other channels. Playing a news anchor, John Gabriel claims that "something happened at one of our sister networks..." It should have been referred to as a "competitive" network - a "sister" implies the same corporate ownership, something prohibited by the FCC in 1976.