Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005) Poster


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Precisely every twenty-three minutes (the standard running time of television shows from the 1950s), the film is punctuated by a jazz song performed by Dianne Reeves.
Initially, the famous concluding catchphrase, "Good Night and Good Luck", that became the title of the film, was a habit Edward R. Murrow kept from his London years as a war reporter for the radio, when British people under constant night German bombing systematically ended their conversations with the very same words, uncertain to meet again.
During the DVD commentary for this film, George Clooney says that about twenty percent of the test audiences had never heard of Joseph McCarthy before and wanted to know the identity of the "actor" playing him. McCarthy, of course, was played by actual footage of the real McCarthy: Joseph Raymond McCarthy (1908-1957), who was the Republican Junior Senator from Wisconsin from 1947 to 1957, when he died in office.
George Clooney was extremely nervous about showing the film to his father, Nick, a newsman himself. Nick Clooney got up after watching it, patted his son on the shoulder and said, "You got it right".
Each morning, George Clooney would gather his cast members together, and give them copies of the newspapers from that day in 1953. He'd then give them an hour and a half, working on old manual typewriters, copying out the stories from the paper. He would then hold an improvised news conference with hidden cameras, in which the cast members would then pitch their stories to the editor, just like a real newsroom.
Joseph McCarthy's influence was already waning when Murrow's show about him aired, due to years of investigative reporting by other journalists, such as Drew Pearson. Edward R. Murrow himself said in Newsweek magazine, "It's a sad state of affairs when people think I was courageous" in presenting his show.
George Clooney mortgaged his own house in Los Angeles to help raise the film's budget.
George Clooney was paid one dollar each, for writing, directing, and starring in the film. This helped keep the film's costs low, coming in at a budget of just 7.5 million dollars.
Was originally conceived as a live broadcast special for CBS.
The band playing throughout the movie is Matt Catingub's band, and Matt Catingub did all the arrangements. Matt Catingub produced Rosemary Clooney's last album, and George Clooney (Rosemary's nephew) was so impressed, he personally asked Matt to do the music for this film.
One of George Clooney's favorite movies of his own.
The entire set was built on one floor. The elevator interior was built on a turntable, so it could be rotated to a new "floor" during unbroken shots. (In one scene, the CBS Records office is represented by a false wall that was then raised out of shot while the door was closed.)
The first Best Picture Academy Award nominee to be in black and white since Schindler's List (1993).
The film was shot on color film on a grayscale set, desaturated in post-production, and released on black-and-white print stock.
David Strathairn, a non-smoker, smoked pipe tobacco in his prop cigarettes to portray Edward R. Murrow.
The real William Paley (portrayed in this film by Frank Langella) had a collection of microphones in his office. The crew put microphones that George Clooney used in O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) in the Paley office set as a surprise for Clooney.
Most of the text of Edward R. Murrow's speech bookending the movie is taken word-for-word from the actual keynote address he delivered to the 1958 RTNDA convention. The actual conclusion to the speech, after Murrow's line about television, used strictly for entertainment rather than education, being nothing more than wires and lights in a box, went as follows: "There is a great and perhaps decisive battle to be fought against ignorance, intolerance, and indifference. This weapon of television could be useful. Stonewall Jackson, who knew something about the use of weapons, is reported to have said, 'When war comes, you must draw the sword and throw away the scabbard.' The trouble with television, is that it is rusting in the scabbard during a battle for survival."
Unusual for a modern film, many of the cast and crew had to step outside to avoid cigarette smoke.
George Clooney researched his approach to directing the film by watching many movies from the 1950s and 60s. He was particularly enamored by Sidney Lumet's Fail-Safe (1964) and 12 Angry Men (1957), and Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless (1960). He even tried unsuccessfully to procure the same lenses used on the French film.
David Strathairn was always George Clooney's first consideration to play Edward R. Murrow.
Because of George Clooney's back injury, he decided to have two cameras rolling at the same time. Not only did this halve the working day to nine hours, but also added a fly-on-the-wall effect.
In the 2006 Oscars, David Strathairn, nominated for portraying a celebrity, was in competition with two other actors who played a celebrity: Joaquin Phoenix (Johnny Cash) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (Truman Capote). Hoffman won.
The man introducing Edward R. Murrow's keynote address to the 1958 convention of the Radio-Television News Directors Association cites Murrow's reporting on, among other topics, the plight of migrant workers. In fact, Murrow did not report on the conditions of migrant workers until 1960. His documentary on the subject, CBS Reports: Harvest of Shame (1960), was the last project he worked on as a CBS broadcaster.
George Clooney was refused insurance, due to a back injury he had incurred while making Syriana (2005).
Editing on the film was completed at George Clooney's palatial Italian villa on the shore of Lake Como.
Original Director of Photography Newton Thomas Sigel was unable to shoot the film, due to his commitment to Superman Returns (2006). Director George Clooney decided on Robert Elswit as the replacement, after working with him on Syriana (2005).
In one scene, William Paley (Frank Langella) invites Edward R. Murrow to a game of the Knickerbockers, better known as the New York Knicks. In the movie Eddie (1996), Langella played Wild Bill Burgess, the owner of the New York Knicks.
The film cast includes three Oscar winners: George Clooney, Tom McCarthy, and Grant Heslov; and four Oscar nominees: David Strathairn, Patricia Clarkson, Frank Langella and Robert Downey, Jr.
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The movie's title was the catchphrase Edward R. Murrow used at the end of his television broadcasts.
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Robert F. Kennedy: During the archive footage of John L. McClellan questioning Joseph McCarthy, a very young RFK (then a minority counsel to the committee) can be seen when the camera pans to the right.


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

When William Paley (Frank Langella) meets with Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) and Fred Friendly (George Clooney) in his office to tell them that he is moving their show to Sunday afternoons, he replies to one of Murrow's objections with the line: "You should teach journalism, you and Mr. Friendly." In fact, years after leaving CBS, Friendly would go on to teach journalism at Columbia University.
In the film, Joe and Shirley Wershba's (Patricia Clarkson's) secret marriage is found out, and Joe voluntarily quits to avoid being fired. Joe Wershba (Robert Downey, Jr.) would spend six years writing for the New York Post, before returning to CBS, when their policies had changed, and would go on to be one of the original producers for another hit news show, 60 Minutes (1968).
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