William Holden: Max Schumacher
Max Schumacher : You need me. You need me badly. Because I'm your last contact with human reality. 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.
Diana Christensen : [hesitatingly] Then, don't leave me.
Max Schumacher : It's too late, Diana. There's nothing left in you that I can live with. You're one of Howard's humanoids. If I stay with you, I'll be destroyed. Like Howard Beale was destroyed. Like Laureen Hobbs was destroyed. Like everything you and the institution of television touch is destroyed. You're television incarnate, Diana: Indifferent to suffering; insensitive to joy. All of life is reduced to the common rubble of banality. War, murder, death are all the same to you as bottles of beer. And the daily business of life is a corrupt comedy. You even shatter the sensations of time and space into split seconds and instant replays. You're madness, Diana. Virulent madness. And everything you touch dies with you. But not me. Not as long as I can feel pleasure, and pain... and love.
Max Schumacher : And it's a happy ending: Wayward husband comes to his senses, returns to his wife, with whom he has established a long and sustaining love. Heartless young woman left alone in her arctic desolation. Music up with a swell; final commercial. And here are a few scenes from next week's show.
[Picks up his suitcases and leaves]
Diana Christensen : I'm sorry for all those things I said to you last night. You're not the worst fuck I ever had. Believe me, I've had worse. You don't puff or snorkel and make death-like rattles. As a matter of fact, you're rather serene in the sack.
Max Schumacher : Why is it that a woman always thinks that the most savage thing she can say to a man is to impugn his cocksmanship.
Diana Christensen : I'm sorry I impugned your cocksmanship.
Max Schumacher : I gave up comparing genitals back in the schoolyard.
Max Schumacher : I'm the man that you presumably love. I'm a part of your life. I live here. I'm real. You can't switch to another station.
Diana Christensen : Well, what exactly is it you want me to do?
Max Schumacher : I just want you to love me. I just want you to love me, primal doubts and all. You understand that, don't you?
Diana Christensen : [weakly] I don't know how to do that.
Howard Beale : [on the air] I just ran out of bullshit.
Harry Hunter : [picks up ringing phone in editing room] Mr. Schumacher's right here, do you want to talk to him?
Howard Beale : Bullshit is all the reasons we give for living. If we can't think up reasons of our own, we always have the God bullshit.
Max Schumacher : [on the phone] Yeah, Tom, what is it?
Howard Beale : We don't know why we go through all this pointless pain, humiliation, and decay. So there better be someone somewhere who *does* know. That's the God bullshit.
Max Schumacher : He's saying that life is bullshit, and it is, so what are you screaming about?
Narrator : 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 decline. He fell to a 22 share. The following year, his wife died, and he was left a childless widower with an 8 rating and a 12 share. He became morose and isolated, began to drink heavily, and on September 22, 1975, he was fired, effective in two weeks. The news was broken to him by Max Schumacher, who was the president of the news division at UBS. The two old friends got properly pissed.
Howard Beale : [on the street] I was at CBS with Ed Murrow in 1951.
Max Schumacher : Must've been 1950 then.
Max Schumacher : I was at NBC, uh, associate producer. Morning News. I was just a kid. 26 years old.
[Not interested, Beale wanders off, until Schumacher stops him]
Max Schumacher : Anyway... anyway... they're building the lower level of the George Washington Bridge.
[Interested, Beale listens]
Max Schumacher : We were doing a remote from there.
Max Schumacher : And nobody told me!
[Beale keeps laughing, very interested]
Max Schumacher : Ten after seven in the morning, I get a call, "Where the hell are YOU? You're supposed to be on the George Washington Bridge!"
[Beale and Schumacher exchange laughs]
Max Schumacher : I jump out of bed, throw my raincoat over my pajamas. I run downstairs and out into the street...
[Schumacher runs into the street]
Max Schumacher : ...hail a cab, and I say to the cabbie, "TAKE ME TO THE MIDDLE OF THE GEORGE WASHINGTON BRIDGE!"
Max Schumacher : And the cabbie turns around and he says...
Max Schumacher : ...he says "Don't do it, buddy! You're a young man! You got your whole life ahead of you!"
Max Schumacher : Didn't I ever tell you that one before?
Max Schumacher : I feel lousy about the pain that I've caused my wife and kids. I feel guilty and conscience-stricken, and all of those things you think sentimental, but which my generation calls simple human decency. And I miss my home, because I'm beginning to get scared shitless, because all of a sudden it's closer to the end than the beginning, and death is suddenly a perceptible thing to me, with definable features.
Max Schumacher : Howard, I'm taking you off the air. I think you're having a breakdown, require treatment.
Howard Beale : This is not a psychotic episode. This is a cleansing moment of clarity. I'm imbued, Max. I'm imbued with some special spirit. It's not a religious feeling at all. It's a shocking eruption of great electrical energy. I feel vivid and flashing, as if suddenly I'd been plugged into some great electromagnetic field. I feel connected to all living things. To flowers, birds, all the animals of the world. And even to some great, unseen, living force. What I think the Hindus call prana. But it's not a breakdown. I've never felt more orderly in my life. It is a shattering and beautiful sensation. It is the exalted flow of the space-time continuum, save that it is spaceless and timeless and... of such loveliness. I feel on the verge of some great, ultimate truth. And you will not take me off the air for now or for any other spaceless time!
Louise Schumacher : Do you love her?
Max Schumacher : I don't know how I feel. I'm grateful I can feel anything.
[his wife flinches]
Max Schumacher : I know I'm obsessed with her.
Louise Schumacher : Then say it. You keep telling me that you're obsessed, you're infatuated. Say that you're in love with her.
Max Schumacher : [pauses] I'm in love with her.
Max Schumacher : [about Diana] I'm not sure she's capable of any real feelings. She's television generation. She learned life from Bugs Bunny.
Max Schumacher : We could make a series of it. "Suicide of the Week." Aw, hell, why limit ourselves? "Execution of the Week."
Howard Beale : "Terrorist of the Week."
Max Schumacher : I love it. Suicides, assassinations, mad bombers, Mafia hitmen, automobile smash-ups: "The Death Hour." A great Sunday night show for the whole family. It'd wipe that fuckin' Disney right off the air.
Max Schumacher : Tell Hackett to go fuck himself!
Edward George Ruddy : I'll want to see Mr. Beale after this. The way I hear it, Max, you are primarily responsible for this colossally stupid prank. Is that the fact, Max?
Max Schumacher : That's the fact.
Edward George Ruddy : It was unconscionable. Doesn't seem to be anything more to say.
Max Schumacher : I have something to say, Ed. I want to know why that whole debasement of the news division discussed at the stockholders meeting this afternoon was kept secret from me. You & I go back 20 years, Ed. I took this job with your personal assurance that you would back my autonomy against any encroachment, but ever since CCA acquired UBS systems 10 months ago, Hackett's been taking over everything. Now, who the hell is running this network, you or some conglomerate called CCA? I mean, you're the head of the systems group, & Hackett is nothing but a hatchet man for the CCA. Nelson here, the president of the network, & he hasn't got a damn thing to say about anything anymore.
Edward George Ruddy : I told you at the stockholders meeting, Max, That we would discuss all of that at our regular meeting tomorrow morning. If you had been patient, I would have discussed that I, to, thought Frank Hackett precipitate, & that the reorganization of the news division would not be executed until everyone-Specifically you, Max-had been consulted & satisfied. Instead, you sulked off like a child, & engaged this network & a shocking & disgraceful episode. Your position is no longer tenable, regardless of how management is restructured. I will expect your resignation at 10:00 tomorrow morning. We will coordinate our statements to the least detriment of everyone. Bob McDonough will take over the news division until we can sort all this out. I would like to see Mr. Beale now.
Nelson Chaney : They're looking for him, Ed, they don't know where he is.
Max Schumacher : Corner gossip says that you're Frank Hackett's backstage girl.
Diana Christensen : [laughs] I am not! Frank's a corporation man - body and soul. He has no loves, lusts, nor allegiances that are not consummately directed to becoming a CCA board member. So, why should he bother with me? I'm not even a stockholder.
Max Schumacher : After living with you for the last six months, I'm turning into one of your scripts. Well, this is not a script, Diana. There's some real, actual life going on here.
Max Schumacher : She does have one script in which I kill myself: An adapted for television version of "Anna Karenina", where she's Count Vronsky and I'm Anna.
Howard Beale : What's wrong with being an angry prophet denouncing the hypocrisies of our times? What do you think, Max?
Max Schumacher : Do you want to be an angry prophet denouncing the hypocrisies of our times?
Howard Beale : Yeah, I think I'd like to be an angry prophet denouncing the hypocrisies of our times.
Max Schumacher : Then, grab it! Grab it!