In the early 1950's, the threat of Communism created an air of paranoia in the United States and exploiting those fears was Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. However, CBS reporter Edward R. Murrow and his producer Fred W. Friendly decided to take a stand and challenge McCarthy and expose him for the fear monger he was. However, their actions took a great personal toll on both men, but they stood by their convictions and helped to bring down one of the most controversial senators in American history.Written by
Brian Washington <Sargebri@att.net>
When the CBS staff is watching See It Now on a regular TV set, the set is tuned to Channel 10. In New York this ran on Channel 2. See more »
In 1935, Ed Murrow began his career with CBS. When World War II broke out, it was his voice that brought the Battle of Britain home to us, through his "This Is London" radio series. He started with us all, many of us here tonight, when television was in its infancy, with the news documentary show, "See It Now." He threw stones at giants. Segregation, exploitation of migrant workers, apartheid, J. Edgar Hoover, not the least of which, his historical fight with Senator McCarthy. He ...
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Even the rating band at the tail of the film is in black and white. See more »
Rarely when an actor tries to direct does it work, and when it does you get "character study" without all the supporting scaffold a real filmmaker would provide.
Clooney is a smart man who knows this. So he structures his projects in ways that are well serviced by what he has to give. The last one was an actor playing a character who created a character within. The structure of the thing was all focused on building and exploiting those ambiguities.
Especially clever were the staging devices. Many were novel and a few were particularly striking.
Now this is a more serious, but has the same values. It is after all a character study, and one that deals with these same two worlds. The man when off the camera, and the man on. Fabricated truth as an act by politicians. "Journalism" as way of piercing through those layers.
Two evils, McCarthy and Paley. Clooney's point is that control over the pipeline is what matters in delivering the "real." So he works with some very studied staging. This movie has some of the best staging in recent memory. It must have taken forever to set the angles and lighting. Fortunately these are so powerful that no scene needs more than two setups. This is the way this cinematographer works for PT Andersen too.
The switch in lighting from when Murrow is on the air to just after he goes off is rather thrilling: both are intense, in fact the on-air lighting is stark. But there is a powerful and visible shift from external to internal energy.
If you just saw the script as words on a page, it would seem boring and preachy. It is the staging that makes this thing come alive, that gives a container for the great acting. The only actor who seems off is McCarthy, which is telling.
I have the book Clooney's dad wrote about movies. Fortunately the son has better insights into what works and what doesn't, and has good intuitions about what to attempt.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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