Thursday, December 17, 2009

Now Viewing: Good Night, and Good Luck

Written, directed, and acted in by George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck is an homage to perhaps one of the greatest moments in television journalism, the clash between CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow and Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy. Murrow, played to near perfection by David Strathairn (who deservedly received an Oscar nod for the role), was the quintessential newsman in the mid-1950s, working with producer Fred Friendly (played by Clooney) and a team of other journalists to bring one of the early and great news analysis shows to the air, See It Now. McCarthy (brought into the film via authentic news reels) was at the height of his influence in the anti-Communist tirades and Congressional hearings. Long story short, Murrow and Friendly's team reported on the senator's vicious techniques and self-contradictions. With unimpeachable integrity and at significant cost personally and professionally, See It Now undeniably contributed to McCarthy's downfall in the Senate.

Filmed entirely in black and white, Good Night, and Good Luck retains an extraordinarily authentic feel for its times. Although the history within the movie is not entirely accurate-- sticklers will note that Murrow's ultimate showdown with CBS head Bill Paley came later than is portrayed in the film-- much of the film seems to be predominantly on target. The supporting cast, which includes Jeff Daniels, Frank Langella, and Robert Downey, Jr., is nothing short of spectacular.

In short: This film blew me away with the quality of its writing and acting, to say nothing of its subject matter. Good Night, and Good Luck instills a nostalgia for time when men were real men, women were real women, and journalism was courageous in its pursuit of truth. It is, in my opinion, a fitting tribute to Mr. Edward R. Murrow, and to the journalistic profession.

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