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>
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." See more »
In several of the scenes with telephone conversations the phones being used were models not introduced until years later and at least twice the handsets use the detachable cord with the RJ-11 plug which was introduced by Bell in the 1970s. 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 »
I've had the "Edward R. Murrow" Collection from CBS for years and have enjoyed watching it's biography of Murrow, the complete Milo Radulovich, McCarthy and Annie Lee Moss shows many times. I'm sure George Clooney must have these as well as he used the actual footage extensively in his fine drama "Good Night and Good Luck". As a previous poster said, by concentrating on what was actually presented, Clooney is able to focus on the ethical issues that were the real substance of the broadcasts, rather than the tragicomic personalities involved. He wants us to see that the same issues are in our lives today, (Clooney has had his own battles with would-be modern McCarthys like Bill O'Reilly), but he isn't going to force the issue. He's doing exactly what Murrow and Friendly did with the McCarthy broadcast: using the actual record to tell the story.
There are minor, but significant embellishments, mostly an impressive cast of actors who can tell us more with one look than an entire speech. Leading the way is David Straithairn as Murrow. Except for possessing a higher pitched voice than the original, he's got his man down cold. I would pick Frank Langella as William Paley, here presented as a man with ideals but who is rooted in the realities of business, the sort of guy who has to make the tough decisions the idealists like Murrow don't have to or want to deal with. Then there is Ray Wise as the vulnerable Don Hollenbeck, who was one of the co-creators of "You Are There", a program this film somewhat resembles. He wound up being "there" when he didn't really want to be.
What really enhances the show is the black and white photography, (actually, according to the notes, it was "The film was shot on color film on a grayscale set, then color-corrected in post" whatever that means). Not only does it heighten the drama, (magazine photographers, in the days when they had a choice, said "black and white for drama, color for excitement"), but the tremendous resolution seems to bring out each furrow and poor on each person's face, allowing the viewer to see into their souls.
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