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>
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". See more »
Mr. Paley calls Murrow to offer front row seats to the Knickerbocker game just before See It Now goes on the air that night. While the New York Knickerbockers did have a game on March 9, 1954, the night of the broadcast, the game was played in Indianapolis, Indiana, not New York City. 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 »
An American citizen working abroad, I watched a preview screening of "Good Night and Good Luck" in early December 2005 in Melbourne. David Straitharn (Murrow) was on hand to introduce the film, and he commented that journalists in the U.S. covet "the Edward R. Murrow Award." Having won one myself, I had to suppress an Arnold Horshack-like desire to jump up and seek acknowledgment.
Born five years after the "See It Now" that became the flash point for the decline and fall of Joseph McCarthy, I always felt uncomfortable in a lifetime of hindsight watching conventional wise men excoriate "the junior Senator from Wisconsin." Yes, his rapacious lust to seize on America's post-war, post-Berlin Airlift, post-nukes paranoia was unforgivable.
But while McCarthy was reckless with his grabbed power, I often wondered if the backlash against The Red Scare wasn't itself tinged with counter abuse.
Fearing this would be another case of a good point made badly (see "Fahrenheit 9-11"), I was pleasantly surprised to find "Good Night and Good Luck" to be even-handed, even paying some lip service to my lifelong concerns.
It wasn't so much the quiet, understated confidence of Murrow in this film that sold me on the fact Clooney provided an untilted platform. It was more the balance offered by the characterization of Paley, who fortunately was not portrayed as the right-wing bad guy. Nor was he fairy-taled into some crusader, either, as the why-don't-they-make-executives-like-that-anymore liberals would have us believe.
For this, Clooney deserves a great deal of credit. Yes, the long, unwieldy stretch of HUAC testimony made the second half of the film a bit ponderous. But that's a quibbling point against a foundation of overwhelming cinematic excellence.
The '50s were never more beautiful than this film. The long-gone mood of unabated scotch and cigarettes, the anachronistic anti-nepotism policy at CBS, the heavy woolen clothing, the horrible eye wear, the great jazz - the forgotten art of how to light a film for black and white. It's all there - and a wonderful tribute to the son of an old-school broadcaster like Nick Clooney.
A little spoilage, though, from Down Under. As I sat in the nearly full cinema on a Monday night, the crowd - mostly in their 20s-60s - giggled at the oddest places. The quaint Kent commercial. The occasional, go-get-'em dialog. The news anchoring tragic and his endorsement of Murrow's broadcast. Giggles. Very off-putting, almost disrespectful to a time gone-by.
It was almost as if they were saying, "Yeah, we know better, and we were born that way." Glad to know somebody got to skip the '50s in order to get to the 21st century.
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