For the average Joe to better understand what goes on behind the scenes at network news broadcasts films like Good Night and Good Luck are essential viewing. In this film director George Clooney (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) has made an homage to newscasts (his father was a newsman) and one newscaster in particular. Newsman Edward R. Murrow was a pioneer in the Senator Joseph McCarthy anti-Communist era in that he did not allow himself to be intimidated and commented on political figures as his conscience directed him. He stated the facts and as such laid the foundation for any good newscaster who has followed him. Clooney's film runs like a newsreel at times (meaning it is sometimes slow), but kudos have to be given to him for resisting the temptation to "Hollywood" up the film. He has trimmed all the fat off of the story and has constructed 90 minutes of essential storytelling. Sometimes the film does seem to verge on hero worship in that Edward R. Murrow is shown to be an almost perfect man, but Clooney does tend to reign it in just when it is becoming too much. It is a beautiful film to look at as it is shot in black and white and the period (1950s) clothing is perfect. A review of the film is not complete without the mention of David Strathaim's performance. It is riveting. He portrays Murrow as a constantly smoking man of the utmost integrity; who calls them as he sees them no matter the cost. The supporting performances of George Clooney and Frank Langella are also top notch. There is also an excellent soundtrack to the film with a spotlight on Jazz singer Dianne Reeves. What most impressed me about the film is how Clooney was able to handle this all-star ensemble cast seemingly without any ego problems.
In the year 1953 Edward R. Murrow (David Strathaim – A Midsummer's Night Dream, Dolores Claiborne) took on the imposing Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy by exposing him and his witch hunt on his news shows 'Person to Person' and 'See It Now'. Senator McCarthy had worked all of the United States into a panic by saying that members of the Communist Party had risen to positions of power and influence within American society. He went so far as to accuse Air Force pilot Milo Radulovich of being a Communist sympathizer and had him thrown out of the service without any type of trial or investigation. Murrow and his team, co-producer Fred Friendly (George Clooney – Syriana, The Perfect Storm), writers Joe (Robert Downey Jr. – Gothika, Wonder Boys) and Shirley Wershba (Patricia Clarkson – Pieces of April, Far From Heaven), and Jesse Zousmer (Tate Donovan – The Pacifier, Murder at 1600), began their own investigation and find out the charges are bogus and call Senator McCarthy on it. He does a story on the whole incident on his show. McCarthy responds by accusing Murrow of being a Communist. In the midst of all this CBS head honcho William Paley (Frank Langella – Sweet November, Lolita) supports Murrow, but his support does have his limits once the issue becomes a hot one. The anchor of CBS news, Don Hollenbeck (Ray Wise – Jeepers Creepers II, Rising Sun), comes out in support of Murrow and McCarthy sets about trying to destroy him as well. It becomes an all out war between McCarthy and Murrow for who the American public will believe.
-Good Night and Good Luck companion piece