Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005) Poster

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"You got it right."
bparker22515 October 2005
I don't know where to begin. If one judges a film by its ability to literally transport the viewer to another time and place, this film succeeds. If one judges a film by the cinematography, the composition of the scenes, whether the characterizations are well drawn, this film succeeds. If one judges a film's merits on integrity, truthfulness, honesty, this film succeeds. Good Night and Good Luck captures a moment in time.We look back on the fifties as a simpler time, our period of innocence. This film tells us straight and true that it was no simpler and no more innocent than our lives today.In fact, the sharpest contrast drawn between today and back then is the intelligence and the literacy, the erudition and the commitment to the tenets of good journalism of Edward R. Murrow and his crew.I cannot picture a Brian Williams or anyone else telling the owner of the network, as Murrow tells Bill Paley, "I can't make it to the game tonight. Thanks for inviting me, but I'm busy tearing down your network." A flawlessly executed film, the acting ensemble well cast, the point clearly and eloquently made, this film should be nominated for an Oscar, a Golden Globe and anything else that's out there. Thank you George Clooney. Your father is correct. "You got it right." Thank you Steven Soderburgh. Thank you, Mr. Murrow.
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Come back Mr. Murrow!
abelardo6418 September 2005
My hat to George Clooney. He doesn't take the easy way out. His seriousness of purpose is undeniable and his talents as a filmmaker a concrete reality. This, his second feature, is a no frills account of a period in American history that left visible scars but, as it happens, many have forgotten. History repeats itself but its protagonists seem diluted in this modern obsession with political correctness. David Strathairn - best actor at the Venice Film Festival - is chillingly perfect as Edward R Murrow, reminding us that TV times have changed in an unrecognizable way. The space for real thought on network news has been replaced by the circus atmosphere of 24 hour cable shows with loud mouths, sound effects and video graphics. The inter-cutting between Murrow/Strathairn and the real Senator McCarthy creates the perfect illusion of a startling reality. The timing of the film couldn't be more perfect. I hope we can all fill in the voids and connect the dots. It's time to look back and think before our past becomes our future. Thank you Mr Clooney, thank you very much.
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America on Trial in GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK
seaview112 October 2005
Actor/Director George Clooney pays tribute to truth and decency amid distrust and uncertainty in the Communist witchhunts with his recreation of its greatest hero, the newsman of newsmen, Edward R. Murrow, in Good Night, and Good Luck.

In the early 1950's, the Communist scare and the subsequent subversion of citizens' rights was at its apex with blacklists and rampant accusations resulting in ruined lives and careers. Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) was the grand master of the news airwaves in the infantile medium of television. With his show's director, Fred Friendly (George Clooney) and his production team, he picks one obscure news item regarding an Air Force serviceman who is dismissed due to unspecified charges. Murrow and CBS essentially take on the US Air Force amid this climate of suspicion and presumed guilt. Later, Murrow's team takes on Senator Joseph McCarthy by making critical comments of the senator's own words and contradictions. McCarthy retaliates with accusations of Murrow's supposed association with un-American groups just as the parent network, CBS, reels under sponsorship pressure and the unpredictable whims of network president William Paley (Frank Langella). As Murrow and his own staff come under tense scrutiny by McCarthy and even CBS, public reaction and the response of the print media come to the forefront.

Nothing can compare to the words that were written and spoken with such conviction and honesty as those uttered by Murrow. The title of the movie is a direct quote that Murrow employed to sign off each week at the close of his interview shows. The filmmakers (including director Clooney and writers Clooney and Grant Heslov) were wise to let the text stand on its own. They also benefit from good performances from a cast headed by Strathairn (L.A. Confidential, A League of Their Own), a journeyman actor who has finally found a core role to call his own, and he makes the most of it. He gets the mannerisms and cadence down quite convincingly, and while Strathairn may not look exactly like Murrow, he has the persona nailed. Frank Langella (Dave) is excellent as the mercurial Paley whose support of Murrow was tenuous at best. Ray Wise (Twin Peaks) registers in what could have been a more defined role as a doomed newsman whose guilt by association triggers some life changing events. Patricia Clarkson (The Station Agent) and Robert Downey Jr. (Chaplin) as secretly married staffers, Joe and Shirley, round out the cast. Ironically, perhaps the best performance can be attributed to McCarthy himself as newsreels offer a fascinating, perverse glance at the infamous politician whose flamboyance and dogged theatrics doomed the careers of many government officials and film or television actors. The duel between Murrow and McCarthy seems like two heavyweights going at it verbally in the public arena.

The cinematography by Robert Elswit (Magnolia) is crisp and starkly lit in black and white to evoke the past. The production design and costumes are consistent with the period. Just the sight of newsmen typing on old style typewriters or production assistants carrying around film reels instead of videotape or discs is amusing. The editing by Stephen Mirrione (Traffic, 21 Grams) is tight and well paced. At times the studio broadcasts of a female blues singer bridges various sequences in theme and mood. The broadcast of a live network news program is staged with realism and with the frenzy and excitement that only live television could bring. One wonders what TV veterans like Sidney Lumet or Robert Altman could have brought to the table.

Murrow's show was kind of a precursor to the current granddaddy of all prime time news shows, 60 Minutes. It was interesting to see that his was not a perfect career having to mix fluffy showbiz interviews with such personalities as Liberace on his Person-to-Person show with legitimate news reports. At 93 minutes, the film surprisingly seems a bit short. You almost feel like this is a big budget episode of the famous You Are There reenactment shows. The story ends almost abruptly as it begins being bookended by a formal event honoring Murrow in 1958.

A couple of things don't quite work in the film. The characters of Joe and Shirley must come to terms with the network's policy forbidding marriage among its coworkers, but this subplot doesn't significantly serve to move the story forward. Clooney shows a workman-like approach to directing the film but it just doesn't grab you as emotionally as you would like. You sit there entranced by the history but are never fully given to the pathos of its characters. Instead, the film becomes almost a quasi-documentary bereft of much feeling.

As previous films have dealt with the Red Scare and blacklists, this film compares favorably with The Front and the great television movie Fear on Trial. Although the Soviet Union was a major threat to the United States during the Cold War, the accusatory enemy from within was perhaps as great a menace. The implications and parallels to today's political climate and the role television has in shaping perception are clearly the point Clooney and gang are trying to make. Murrow's formal speech, which begins and ends the film's story, is itself a prophetic and sobering commentary and indictment of the possibilities of television and foreshadows the future with amazing prescience. It shows that one man made a difference. Such is the testament to a heroic reporter whose integrity this film manages to capture, albeit in a brief history lesson.
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Clooney's presentation of McCarthy
bagloon13 October 2005
The film does not - as some have suggested - unfairly portray McCarthy as a sub-human monster. Its presentation of McCarthy is limited strictly to the thread of the storyline and never does it waver toward name-calling or character assassination. This is particularly striking given that MCarthy was a well-seasoned alcoholic and clearly suffered from a narcissistic personality disorder. He was ripe for parody because his eccentricities were so pronounced, but this film is remarkably even-handed about the Senator's deeds and behavior. There are no allusions either to his peculiar friendship with Roy Cohn, whose notorious homosexual relations with private G. David Schine eventually led to McCarthy's demented charge that the Army was infested with Communists. Some have even suggested that McCarthy was no stranger to gay trysts. All of this could have made for an explosive - and typical - "Hollywood" movie and would indeed have been propagandistic, shallow and simple-minded. Instead Clooney has made an intelligent, cogent, fair-minded film about ethics, high standards and integrity.
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Broadcast news
jotix10021 October 2005
"Good Night, and Good Luck" is the kind of film that has elicited strong opinions in the IMDb forum. In fact, most of the critics point out at the manipulation of the actual events and what they perceive as character assassination of the late Joseph McCarthy and the role he played during the "witch hunt" conducted by the late senator from Wisconsin. Whether these points are right, or wrong, in the minds of the contributors, most seem to disregard the film on that criteria, alone.

In fact, "Good Night, and Good Luck" shows a time in the American past that served as the model in the way television introduced the format in which the news was going to be shown to the country using the emerging technology to keep people informed. As such, CBS under William Paley's leadership, amassed a lot of talent and it became the yardstick in which other news programs were going to be judged against. George Clooney, in his second directorial job, recreates what he and his co-writer, Grant Heslov, thought about that period at the beginning of the era of television news.

The film has a documentary style that serves well to illustrate the story being told. Most of it occurring in the CBS studios in New York during the fifties. The crisp black and white cinematography, by Robert Elswit, gives the movie a nostalgic look to the way things were done in those days. Mr. Clooney has inserted scenes where a black jazz singer interprets some standard songs as though it might have been the next program following the actual news hour, and act as a buffer in the events being presented.

At the center of the story is Edward R. Murrow, the CBS anchor at the time. Mr. Murrow was greatly admired for his contributions during WWII and his broadcasts from London bringing commentaries about the war to America. Mr. Murrow was a giant in the field, most admired by all Americans because his integrity and the way he presented his stories, which ranged from the sublime, to the ridiculous, as it is the case with the interview with Liberace in Sherman Oaks where he asked the entertainer about his future wedding plans.

The strong cast assembled for the film is excellent. David Strathairn, one of our most versatile actors plays the leading role. His take on Murrow's mannerisms and the way he spoke to his audience in front of the camera is captured with great detail. Mr. Strathairn gives a good performance, but one never really knows much about the man in the way the screen play has been written. Yes, one gets the impression of Mr. Murrow's high ethics, but as far as what made him tick, one has to wait for another biopic to find out.

The ensemble cast plays well under Mr. Clooney's direction. Robert Downey Jr., Patricia Clarkson, Ray Wise, Frank Langella, Jeff Daniels, and George Clooney are seen in the newsroom as they portray their models under Mr. Clooney's direction.
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One of the very best films of the year.
jsemovieman11 October 2005
"Good Night, And Good Luck" is one of the best films of the year. Beautifully directed by George Clooney (who also co-stars), this is a film that exercises a powerful message and social commentary that remains relevant today. Filmed in tight frames of black and white, "Good Night, And Good Luck" also brings back the smoke-filled atmosphere of broadcast journalism and television in the 1950s. The film focuses around CBS journalist Edward Murrow and his attempts to take down Senator Joseph McCarthy through his news program, "See it Now." David Strathairn, playing Edward Murrow, gives one of the best performances of the year and is surely swimming in Oscar territory. Clooney makes his biggest leap in the film industry yet. He, too, may join Strathairn for an Oscar nomination, but in the Best Director category. Filming in black and white, and interspersing news conferences with actual footage of McCarthy, Clooney is an emerging talent worth watching. The ending and the very last frame lets "Good Night, And Good Luck" stay with those who watch it. It ends very abruptly, as if Clooney wants to show the failing, yet lasting effort Murrow had--how he stands as a symbol for the continuation of truth and who is willing to bring it out to the public. The end has a very honest bleak tone to it--we want to see Murrow continue to let the public know what's actually going on in the country, but one man's fight isn't good enough. Clooney chooses a perfect and powerful ending. He makes a bold statement on how public interest in television has contributed to the decay of society, whether it is 1950 or 2005.
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When Things Were Black and White
schappe113 November 2005
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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Strathairn and documentary footage produce a winner
reddpill16 October 2005
This film was a real treat, with Strathairn's dead-on performance as legendary journalist Edward R. Murrow a sure bet for at least an Oscar nomination. Perhaps the best decision by writer-director George Clooney was to cast no one in the role of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Instead, Clooney uses actual footage of McCarthy in the HUAC hearings and press conferences. Movies based on actual historical events often sensationalize events, but the extensive use of documentary footage brings home the reality of this movie's story line.

In addition to Strathairn's best performance to date, the entire cast delivers, from Clooney himself as Murrow's producer Fred Friendly, to Frank Langella as CBS chairman William Paley, to Ray Wise as the insecure anchorman Don Hollenbeck. If there is a weak point in the cast, it is Jeff Daniels, who was given little to do in the role of news director Sig Mickelson and did little with it.

As most people today are acquainted with the 1950s through black-and-white images, the decision to film in black-and-white also feels appropriate, and helps the documentary footage to blend in seamlessly with the filmed actors. The only real failing of the movie is the lack of real drama. Throughout, Murrow and the gang are seen to have the upper hand, although they sweat about the potential consequences of every action. The slice of history, the ideas presented concerning the proper role of news media, and the terrific performances all more than make up for this, however, and I strongly recommend this film to those who lived through the McCarthy era and to those, such as myself, who only have witnessed it in the rear view mirror.
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In GOOD NIGHT, We See that Recent History Can Be Stranger Than Fiction!
KissEnglishPasto28 July 2016
In Good Night and Good Luck, George Clooney really gets to show us his versatility in the Seventh Art. He wears many hats here, serving as Director, Co-author and co-star of this gripping and chilling film. It is a thoroughly engrossing "Truth is stranger than fiction" story (my favorite cinema genre!) of the persecution of alleged communists by certain powerful elements within the government of the United States in the early 50s.

GOOD NIGHT won two well deserved Oscars….Highlighting and reminding all of us that, "Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it" ...I certainly think this is the operative phrase today, considering the myriad of illegal, unconstitutional surveillance and intrusions, put in place during the recent BUSH presidency, monitoring the conversations of its citizens to "ensure our national safety!". Definitely a must see film for anyone and everyone who is interested in our modern history.


Any comments, questions or observations, in English o en Español, are most welcome!
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A terrific film
evo8mr16 October 2005
I just saw this film, and I have three words to sum it up: A terrific film.

Yes, there were people who thought this was just leftist propaganda but they all walked out in agreement that 'Good Night' was a very well made movie about a person who exploited fear in the people of the united states in 1953.

David Strathairn gives the performance of his career as Edward R Murrow, a legendary 1950's news reporter. His performance has the complexities, mannerisms and subtleties that you would expect from Murrow. His performance does for Murrow for what Adrien Brody did for Wladyslaw Spilzman, you truly do believe him. Count on a Oscar nomination.

George Clooney's direction, writing and acting are all very strong this side of Roberto Benigni's 'Life is Beautiful'. Clooney may direct himself to his first Oscar.

Another revelation in this movie is Frank Langella, who plays Bill Paley (the head of CBS). He backs Murrow and Friendly to the end, but also tells them the cold, hard truth . He tries so hard not to jeopardize the both of them.

All that being said, this may be the underdog movie at this year's Academy Awards. Strathairn and Clooney both give outstanding performances but this year their competition is stiff. Straithairn going after Philip Seymour Hoffman for his performance in ' Capote ' and Clooney going after Peter Sarsgaard for his performance in 'jarhead'.

A very good film and worth the 90 minutes of your time.
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Very Relevant
maxlebow24 January 2006
This film portrays an episode in television history. That period was covered in a class on documentary film that I took many years ago as an undergraduate. So, I've seen the full episodes of Murrow's challenge, McCarthy's attack on Murrow, and Murrow's response.

McCarthy overreached when he went after the Army. And Murrow, I have learned from other sources, waited until McCarthy was politically wounded before challenging him. These elements are missing from the film. My guess is they were omitted to avoid boring the audience.

For those with no experience with McCarthyism, the film may be boring anyway as some have already commented.

However, like Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, which set McCarthyism in the time frame of the Salem witch trial hysteria, this film does a decent job of portraying the atmosphere of fear engendered by continual hysterical threats to the personal safety of the American people from within or from without. It does not show the chilling effect the atmosphere of fear imposes on the journalist.

It does show a relationship between the corporation and the journalist. This is an important point. It is well made. I find this the most relevant part of the film.
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Looks the part, but lacks emotional involvement
The_Void7 February 2006
Of all the critically friendly 'Oscar Contenders' of 2005, Good Night and Good Luck was the one that stood out the most for me. Not because I have an interest in the plot, or any confidence in the people that made it, even; but merely because it seemed to come out of nowhere, and it's often these films that become the surprise hit of the year. With that in mind, I am disappointed to say that, given the task of describing this film in one word, I would have to select the word 'dull'. Director and star George Clooney has done a great job of ensuring that his film looks and feels as it should; we are given a convincing portrait of the USA during the 1950's, and the film is always lovely to look at. However, it's good points end there; as there is barely any plot to speak of, and the film simply feels like a timeline of events. The plot revolves around the cold war, and Senator Joseph McCarthy. Two journalists; reporter Edward R. Murrow and producer Fred Friendly, decide to take on the senator and expose him for inspiring fear in the American people.

The way that George Clooney uses archive footage instead of an actor cast in the role of the senator is a really inspired move; but the inspiration stops there. We are never allowed into the heads of any of the characters. Their actions show, but we are never given any motivation, and this makes the film very hard to care for on an emotional level. David Strathairn fits the film in that he looks the part; but like the rest of it, he is never given a chance to shine. Robert Downey Jnr and Patricia Clarkson are entirely wasted in a subplot that has little point, while George Clooney fails also to make any kind of impression in the acting department. To be honest, I'm really surprised that this film did go down well with the critics. Good Night and Good Luck is a purely aesthetic experience, and despite the fact that it looks great; surely great films cannot be called such merely because of how they look. I'm sure that George Clooney thought he was making a great film here, but it's missed the mark entirely. If you're really interested in the subject of this film, you might get some kind of enjoyment out of it; but since this film is basically a glorified documentary, you'd probably be better off seeing an actual documentary. Disappointing.
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History Made More Understandable
zeedunn3 June 2008
I heard about McCarthyism when I was in high school or was it middle school? For me, it's one of those events you hear about but can never truly understand. This movie brought me just a little closer to understanding.

It takes place right in the middle of the "witch hunts" McCarthy instigated back in the 1950s. Various government employees, actors, and other people on the fringe were accused of being part Communists or Communist sympathizers. Perhaps this person was a Russian spy? They do seem suspicious. I saw them reading leftist newspaper articles the other day. Her brother used to be involved with an organization that is now funding the Russians, etc. McCarthy claimed he had a whole list of people that were suspicious characters. And he had evidence! However, it was in a sealed envelope with nothing written on it, and no one had actually seen the contents that could attest to them. The whole thing was suspicion and hearsay. But, it was effective! People were fired from their jobs, shunned from society, and whispered about in corridors. Imagine the shame.

So in this movie, a CBS news correspondent, Edward R. Murrow, decides to challenge McCarthy. He doesn't directly claim that McCarthy is lying. Only that he wants to see what is in all of these evidence reports. After a tug of war for the hearts of the American people, McCarthy is impeached. This may or may not have been a direct result of the Murrow shows, but it was clear the public tide was turning. In this movie, they show how the events surrounding this showdown might have played out on the inside. There are many meetings and threats. There is much brow-wiping and collar twisting. And it makes for a very riveting film.

We see how this whole thing could have blown up in Murrow's face. We see what a risk he took and how the executive producers of the station might have treated him for taking that risk. We see fear and bravery.

This was a 2005 Oscar nominee in 6 categories, none of which it won. But it is a very interesting piece of work. What's amazing is that this event happened on the heels of the Holocaust and Nuremberg trials. The United States had just spent a lot of time pointing fingers at other countries that had let fear and speculation run the day. Many people got sent to concentration camps based on this same type of rumors and hearsay as displayed in this film.

This film makes for riveting entertainment, but don't try to watch it when you are in the mood for something light. This is a fairly clean picture, rated PG. It could be useful in an educational setting.
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Australians giggle at "Good Night and Good Luck"
Flats-25 December 2005
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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The Camera
tedg25 November 2005
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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a good film but lacks depth and historical context
imaginarytruths22 October 2005
Well-acted across the board, I loved the Patricia Clarkson-Robert Downey combo so much that I kind of wish they had their own movie. Stylish and effective cinematography- the darting to and fro, the perpetual smoke, the use of shadow and silhouette. All very well done. And the overall message of the film- that the media and the American public need to wake the *beep* up and pay attention- is one that I heartily commend.

Part of my problem with the film stems from the fact that I am a history student with a keen interest in the time period. And Clooney does nothing to place his story in historical context. He's just taking pieces of a story and expecting the audience to fill in the rest. Like the loyalty oath piece. It really has nothing to do with the rest of the film. It is not explored further in any other scene. It is not really debated. Just one scene, designed to get the audience to recoil and say "wasn't that horrible?" Then it's not mentioned again. No reference to Stalin...hell, no reference to the Cold War, the atomic bomb, the Korean War, or even any aspect of the Red Scare other than McCarthy. There's one line about Alger Hiss near the end, but it provides little context or explication. The film makes it seem like McCarthy was a one-man wrecking crew instead of a particularly ruthless and ambitious politician taking advantage of a fear that was already widespread and deeply penetrating.

And loyalty oaths still exist, by the way, and the truth is that for the most part we accept them. I had to sign a loyalty oath to be a public schoolteacher.

As for the idea that Clooney is trying to make commentary about how society has changed in the past 50 years, I agree that such is his intent. In this regard he is clearly inspired by Todd Haynes' Far From Heaven, which his company produced and which he vigorously promoted. But Haynes does it much more elegantly. He shows his characters confounding their stereotypical roles; Clooney merely reinforces them. I wanted to see Patricia Clarkson's character do something other than fetch newspapers. I wanted to see a black character do something other than belt out jazz tunes that lay out the plot like something in an old musical. Otherwise, their presence smacks of tokenism, of the worst kind of liberal condescension. Also, Haynes' film is a fiction commenting on the fictional representations and actual reality of a bygone era. Clooney's is, at least in its central scenes, practically a documentary. Having subplots whose primary purpose is smug contemporary commentary detracts from the versimilitude.

The scene near the end in the office between Langella and Strathairn is the thematic lynchpin of the film. However, this is where I think Clooney most clearly falls short. It seems to me that they address Murrow's earlier complicity in the Red Scare (re:Alger Hiss) surreptitiously by burying it in a set of defensive comments that are presented like a bunch of excuses for the network's moral cowardice. It's scripted in such a way that Murrow does not have to respond. As for the idea that corporations run the media for profit and that the nightly news is more distraction than edification ...well, that was a bold statement when Network came out 30 years ago, not so much now anything more than stating the obvious. I wanted more from this.

I almost feel like Clooney was torn between making a documentary and making something truly scathing in the Network vein. As documentary the film is brought down by its lack of context, which is a shame because Strathairn's line readings are chillingly good. As social commentary the film simply doesn't say anything particularly perceptive, and at times it comes across as liberal bourgeois moralizing.
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Mr. Junior Senator: Good Night and Good Luck!!
dataconflossmoor25 July 2006
What do you think of when you think of the 1950's? You think of a basically pleasant time...America was reaping the rewards of being the World War II champions!! Yet, underneath the facade of a "We Like Ike" complacency, propagated a myriad of ideological and cultural dilemmas!! Segregation signified a rudimentary lack of tolerance for another individual regardless of his race, color or creed!! An issue more pertinent to this film was the fact that the Russians had the hydrogen bomb, which meant every upscale home built in the 1950's included construction of a bomb shelter.. Phobia infiltrated mainstream America,and an integral facet of such archaic thought was "McCarthyism"...Named after the junior senator from Wisconsin, Joe McCarthy!! The most disturbing aspect to this convoluted logic, otherwise known as Communist trepidation via "McCarthyism", was not that some extremist was expounding about the enemy of Communism being ubiquitous!! ..More to the point, this unwarranted paranoia had a strong American market to support it!! What the film "Good Night and Good Luck" focused on was the fact that television was not just about watching "Superman" and "Steve Allen", but also, it served as a vehicle for dissecting the truth ..Now enters Edward R. Murrow !! A newscaster who cogently believed that television was not just tubes and wiring which provided an onslaught of innocuous entertainment, more significantly, it should act as a bevy of information to expose facts to the American public! Countering an issue brought on the potential for depicting lies and distortions about the issue... In this case...McCarthyism!! The small screen communication known as television, which was nationwide, negated the long enjoyed sovereignty for the hegemony of America's revered this film, namely, the Air Force!! Television had interpretive reporting to contradict facts issued by military intelligence, this in essence nullified their impunity and carte blanche disposition!!!! McCarthyism was destructive dogma which motivated Edward R. Murrow's professional integrity... Two sides of an issue brought on a liberal view!! Not liberal in the pejorative sense, whereby it manifests itself through patterns of irresponsible behavior, but liberal in the context as a euphemism for intellectual diversification!! This movie was incredibly substantiated by remarkable directing, paramount acting performances, and camera angles which made the cold war motif of this film extremely authentic!! In 1954, television became a tertiary source of information, today it is a primary source of information..This is largely due to the fact that less than 12% of Americans read newspapers!! I recommend to anyone who recognizes that on occasion we encounter milestones in our perception of what reality means in the United States, that they see this film....Ultimately, Edward R. Murrow became the calculated guinea pig for the faulted America...His philosophy of making the distinction between disloyalty and dissent reaffirmed this nation's understanding of our constitutional right of freedom of speech.. Murrow's succinct tenet of how the truth is the truth whether it is heard half way across the world or at the other end of the bar, inevitably prevailed as the television industry's accountability for standards and practices!! Edward R Murrow died a very fortunate man, as he accomplished something most of us do not, his obituary had an added codicil to it that he made a difference in this world... Such a feat is commensurate with the accomplishments such as having a lot of people who love and respect you, or the gratifying reward of raising a child properly!! The inadvertent cultural and social conflicts that television besieged the American people with, let the proverbial horse out of the barn, hence, television would change America forever!! George Clooney, the director of this film, who has had a fabulous acting career, sought perhaps a vehement empathy for Edward R. Murrow in his quest to set an occupational precedent!! A producer of the film, Steven Soderbergh, who also produced "Sex Lies and Videotape" (A fantastic film) possesses a knack for delving into the domicile for the disconcerting, this makes him very effective in his ability for articulating realism!! David Strathairn, who played Edward R. Murrow, conquered an acute resemblance to Murrow, not just in terms of his physical appearance, but also, in terms of Murrow's subtle resolve and undaunted demeanor!! Give the rest of the cast and crew credit for having a grass roots recognition of what fervor these 1954 CBS television executives coveted to unveil the truth concerning McCarthyism!! This film gives the movie audience an opportunity to delve into the plethora of facts and philosophies that immersed this film into intellectual and political rumination!! Clooney perceived this story as a stellar idea for a movie... Giving pontification to the premise that television was more than just a citadel of insulated amusement, and indeed, an avenue for news accuracy for back then as well as for permanently in the future, was something that Clooney thought would titillate the American movie goer!! He was right!!

See this film... Five Stars... No question about it!!!
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Style over substance, no real controversy here!
zoni431616 March 2006
The photography, costumes, and the music in this movie were great. But style is where the brilliance of this movie ends. The film presents a highly skewed view of historical events, oversimplified and tailored to fit the biases of George Clooney.

Joe McCarthy is shown only in newsreel footage making him a 2 dimensional character. This really diminishes the impact. He certainly isn't the ugly threatening villain the filmmakers would like us to believe in. There is tragedy in the story of McCarthy. He played a high-stakes political game and self-destructed in public. Why that sort of real human drama is completely missing from this film is beyond me.

There is no attempt to explain the real reason for anti-communist paranoia, and that makes the film historically unbalanced. The Clooney clan didn't know how to put the McCarthy era in context. Younger generations and the masses who don't read history will wonder what all the fuss was about. With tens of millions of people dying in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin paranoia was impossible to avoid. The horror of Stalin's party purges make the politics portrayed in this movie look like something from the Sunday comics.

OK, I get the idea that Clooney likes "smooth jazz" music. The music is great, and this, unfortunately, is also one of the films biggest problems. That music was not widely popular in the 1950's. The pop charts were full of light vocal and musical show tunes, and this would spell box office disaster today. The real pop music of the 1950's made the rise of Rock and Roll inevitable! A dramatic orchestral score could have heightened the impact and would not have drawn undue attention away from the story, as does the music in this film.

Controversy always has more than one side. If Clooney were a good filmmaker he would have given the film the type of dramatic tension that could turn it into serious entertainment. The unintentional paradox is that while presenting the story of a "neutral" journalist, Clooney shows a distorted view of the surrounding historical events. I guess it is just too bad for us that the real world is so out of touch with George Clooney.
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piksplanet1 January 2009
At the present times, when the film and film-making in general has undergone such a drastic change that more often than not, a major portion of the viewers is accustomed to a film with either action, a lot of humor, exceptional chills, over-the-top stories, and so on and so forth. The very root of film-making seems to have been forgotten. The film, we must remember, is also an agent of communication. It puts forward a message. Good Night, and Good Luck is such a film.

As we hear David Strathairn's Edward R. Murrow speak, we are reminded of the positive points of what we call television. He asks the public not to underestimate or overlook the fact that television has a potential to inform and educate. Good Night, and Good Luck is basically a political drama, playing out an event that took place in the early 1950's in the Columbia Broadcasting System. The war of words between CBS' broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow and Republican U.S. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy. It is more of a docu-drama with actual footages and dialogue from the happenings.

Directed by George Clooney, who also stars in the film, Good Night, and Good Luck is completely in black and white. It is exceptionally stylized. The repeated shots of Strathairn holding his cigarette, the light reflecting off his well-oiled hair, and his chiseled expressionless face; the glare he gives the viewers at the end of each broadcast, is the very point of the film. There is no added material here, no extra ingredients to spice up the events and modernize it, no effort to make it more appealing except for giving it the actual look and feel of the 50's. Almost the entire film is inside the CBS newsroom, or its adjacent offices. The music that occasionally plays in the background is more often than not a part of the diagesis, perhaps a jazz recording, or a broadcast in an adjacent room.

Then there is Edward Strathairn's performance. Flawless. His acting, more than anything else, takes us into understanding and realizing the consequences of the events that are taking place. The calm yet ruthless nature of him, the clarity with which he speaks in the broadcasts, is perfect. The supporting cast is also top notch with the likes of Frank Langella, Robert Downey Jr. and Patricia Clarkson. Frank Langella is exceptionally brilliant in the sequence in his office with Clooney and Strathairn.

At ninety minutes, the acting and the stylization make the film a visual treat. It is however suggested that one be informed of the events that the film portrays beforehand. It is the mere representation of an event; without any explanation, any commentary, any justification whatsoever. The film never tries to be something it cannot. It is not meant to be an entertaining action-packed film. It's action lies in the play of dialogue between characters and the facts that the conversations eventually reveal. It is man against man. One trying to bring out the truth about the other. It is a debate. It is a fiery battle of words between two men. It is about one man who dared to tell the truth, and went to all ends to bring it out into the open. Good Night, and Good Luck is a detailed and accurate account of the feud between broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow and Senator Joseph R. McCarthy.

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Masterfully executed period piece with a point
mstomaso6 May 2006
Clooney has joined the ranks of Mel Gibson and Ron Howard as recent actors that have proved themselves capable of top-quality directing.

Good Night and Good Luck is a film about an aspect of American history that I care greatly about. So I was predisposed to be very critical, and I was hesitant, though excited, to see it.

The film, especially Strathairn's intense performance, and the great support from Clooney, Langella and Clarkson, exceeded my expectations greatly. I will enjoy seeing this again, and mining the DVD for commentary and supplementary material.

The connection of the McCarthy communist witch-hunts to today's 9-11 9-11 terrorist terrorist mindset should not be lost to the more free-thinking members of the audience, but you should not let the politics of the film distract you from the heroic story it tells and the principle point - which is expressed so ably in Murrow's acceptance speech for a journalism award at the beginning of the film - TV can be a great tool for education, but we should not confuse education and entertainment. The film is shot in black and white. This choice is not simply an attempt to give it 'that period feel', but it is also a profound metaphor for the press and the advent of television journalism. It also gives the few scenes that pit Murrow against McCarth in juxtaposition a sense of reality which could not be achieved any other way.

Well, Clooney has managed to make a film that is as entertaining as it is educational, and misses no opportunity to make its central argument clear.

I strongly recommend this film to anybody with even a passing interest in the politics of terror, the role of the media in American society, and the value of a free press.
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Almost a Documentary
Connective8 October 2005
"Good Night, and Good Luck," tells the story of CBS Newsman Edward R. Murrow's courageous fight against Senator Joseph McCarthy. As a student of both history and journalism, I have viewed Murrow as a hero and was very excited to see this film. Overall, David Strathairn's performance is impeccable, capturing Murrow's nuances, genius, and even the cigarette addiction that eventually killed him.

George Clooney directed this film and plays Fred Friendly, who produced Murrow's broadcasts. Clooney also is credited with co-writing the screenplay, and that's where the problem arises. Aside for the lengthy film footage of actual Senate sub-committee testimony, and the genuine, on-screen words of Murrow and others, the screenplay is sparse.

We get very little insight into the characters of Murrow, Friendly, and CBS President William Paley (played by Frank Langella). In addition, Clooney wastes a superb supporting cast including Patricia Clarkson, Robert Downey Jr., and Jeff Daniels.

Clearly, George Clooney has made a noble film that captures the spirit of the time and the words of those involved, and if there was ever any doubt that McCarthy was a self-serving hypocrite, it is erased by this film. But the director failed to develop characters that were interesting in their own right. As such, the film is only slightly more involving than a documentary on the subject might have been.
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We Will Not Walk In Fear, One Of Another
Chrysanthepop22 February 2009
Clooney deserves a pat on the back for taking such a risky subject and making a remarkable film of it. Good Night, and Good Luck.' is impactive. The film gives the feel of a documentary where we see the passionate journalists of CBS at work and this is intercut by real footage. Clooney excels as both writer and director. His actors also seem to share a good comfort zone which may have influenced their on screen interactions and extract authentic performances. I disagree that this movie is 'deviod of emotions'. The performances are subtle but one can relate to the characters' dilemma and empathize for them. Strathairn is truly remarkable and he is supported by the likes of Downey Jr., Clooney himself and Clarkson who are all fantastic. The costumes and black and white colour evokes a feeling of the past. Cinematography is smooth. The dialogues are skillfully written. The film wonderfully reminds us of a forgotten dark period in American history that has haunted many lives, a time when hypocrisy was running high. Many have criticized it for being too documentary-like but I feel that it has instead worked towards its benefit because documentaries enlighten viewers of the truth. At the same time you don't forget that it's a movie you're watching because there is a story to be followed, a fascinating story that provokes ones thoughts.
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If I were born in the USA, this is a film that would make me feel proud to be an American
Chris_Docker17 February 2006
Cinema can be entertainment, it can be art, it can be a popular voice. It can be eye-candy or sometimes it can be a force for good. Modern U.S. cinema and its audiences have long been primarily regarded (sometimes unfairly) as entertainment only. A few Independents have stood out, but works of significant art or important social comment have been largely seen as uncommercial.

Leading filmmakers set out to challenge that with a company called Participant Productions. Their hypothesis was quite simple: there is a mainstream audience for well-made films that have the power to inspire on important issues. They believe "in the power of media to create great social change." Good Night, and Good Luck (like North Country and Syriana) succeeds in attracting critical and commercial success.

Good Night, and Good Luck is about the struggle to protect democratic freedoms. It came on general release in the UK, the day after the United Nations called for the closure of Guantanamo Bay - a centre where people are detained without due process of law and for lengthy periods merely on suspicion of involvement with terrorism. It went on general release on the same day that Channel 4 Television aired a programme by Walter Wolfgang, the lifelong Labour Party activist ejected from last year's Labour Party Conference for speaking out against the Foreign Secretary on Iraq - a programme showing how the British Government has gradually reduced dissent within its own ranks and that new legislation designed to prevent terrorism is being used by the police in ways that are effectively eroding our civil liberties. (Footage included peaceful protesters who had been stopped under the Terrorism Act including an elderly man held in Brighton for wearing an anti-Blair t-shirt and the 11-year-old girl stopped and searched while participating in a peace march.)

Good Night, and Good Luck is set in the 'McCarthy' era of American history, one of the blackest periods for U.S. civil liberties, when the merest hint that a person sympathised with 'communists' was enough to lose them their job. The Junior Senator, Joseph McCarthy, used people's fear of the communists (who were making real and frightening advances in Korea, Eastern Europe and China) to round up people with witch-hunt hysteria. Disagreeing with McCarthy was tantamount to being a 'dangerous communist' and could mean blacklisting for oneself and one's family or even imprisonment without proper trial. It took a long time for people to speak out. Broadcaster Edward Murrow (and his producer Fred Friendly) was one of those who lead the charge, using their own money when CBS and television sponsors refused to publicise their programme. The public was overwhelmingly supportive. Emboldened, televised Senate investigations led to McCarthy's downfall, even as he attacked Murrow.

In only George Clooney's second experiment in the director's chair, he has scored both a palpable hit of a movie and also dug his feet in for integrity in film-making - both in content and style. Parallels between the McCarthy indictment-without-evidence and the U.S. detention-without-trial of Guantanamo Bay (or the UK's powers-of-detention under the Terrorism Act) are exceedingly (and intentionally) plain. If we sacrifice the freedoms that are the bedrock of what we claim to be protecting (whether it be from Communism or Terrorism) then the struggle ceases to lose much of its meaning. What makes Good Night, Good Luck so powerful however, is that it leaves viewers to make the connection themselves, by the careful telling of history, rather than the dubious rantings of left wing softies. The evils of McCarthyism are no longer disputed by many - nor was Murrow's patriotism ever in any doubt - he had a magnificent track record of upholding the liberties of which America is so proud, so the film stands first and foremost as a patriotic clarion call to freedom. Neither does it embroider - the only scenes of McCarthy used are archive footage (just as when Murrow attacked him, he only used actual footage of the Senator speaking). Murrow claimed that Americans were not only able to be strong militarily, but they were able to be strong in robust debate. This movie, 50 years later, is a tribute to that robust debate.

Stylistically, the use of black and white throughout reminds us of the magic of that medium (especially on modern high quality 35mm film). The 50's are lovingly recreated, from the deep jazz soundtrack with Dianne Reeves and Rosemary Clooney's band, the hand-written prompts for announcers in TV's early days, to the (less acceptable today) world of ubiquitous cigarette smoke and a male-dominated business world. The mannerisms, haircuts, dress, and even the way the film is edited, all persuade us that we are watching a film made closer to that era and miraculously brought to us with digital sound and wide aspect ratio. Admittedly, the shots of McCarthy and the Senate are of noticeable poorer quality (and with poorer make-up), but the real and symbolic importance of using original footage outweigh the slight visual inconsistency. Clooney has not only directed admirably, but has excelled himself in co-producing a taut script as well as delivering an excellent performance as Fred Friendly. David Strathairn (as Ed Murrow) establishes himself as an actor of major strength: the indelible picture of Murrow he projects is one of towering humanity, moral probity, belief in self and a courageous judgement free of bias - an icon for any reporter to hold high.

In the USA today, we see vigorous debate and the rule of law replaced by religious conviction and secret knowledge. In the UK, rigorously scrutinised laws and debate within Cabinet and political parties has been replaced by a mass of hasty legislation authoritarian politics. Safeguards in the political systems of both countries have failed. It was against such moral vacuity that the broadcast media defeated McCarthy and returned common sense and democracy to America. Films such as Good Night, Good Luck can be seen as a small step in a similar direction.
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Good night, and Good Movie.
rooprect2 May 2013
Check out this clever message: the film opens with a scene of Ed Murrow at a festive party, delivering a real Debbie-Downer of a speech about the duty and failure of TV. In the speech he accuses television (news in particular) of catering to the fat & happy, dumbing down reality for the sake of entertainment. He calls for television instead to educate, provoke and expose the world for its flaws, ugly or boring as they may be.

"Good night, and good luck" does exactly what Murrow prescribes. The movie itself is not what I'd call entertaining. Definitely not like Oceans 11, 12, 13 or any of the other blockbuster hits of recent years. Instead it's a fascinating, enlightening and sobering history lesson which is particularly important to re-visit today.

Director George Clooney takes us on a powerful ride through a world where the government has total, unquestionable control over the fates of individuals, and those who speak out against it do so at their own risk. Sounds like some Orwellian dystopia? Well it really happened in the US of A, barely 50 years ago. And it may be happening again.

That's all I'll say as far as socio-political commentary. After all we're here to talk movies. And what a movie this is. While I can't say it's a crowd pleaser, I think it's masterfully crafted with excellent dialogue, effective camera angles & movements that add to the tension, and great acting all around. The whole movie is in b&w but it's not just a gimmick. Not only does it transport us back to the time period (mid 1950s), but it allows for the smooth blending of actual stock footage from the McCarthy hearings. Apparently the blending was so smooth that initially some people criticized the "actor" playing Sen McCarthy as being too over-the-top. Haha, it's the real dude, folks.

I watched this movie without knowing who directed it, and for a long time I could've sworn it was Steven Soderbergh ("Traffic", "Solaris", and particularly "The Informant!") with its meticulous, clean shots. Not much of a surprise to learn that it was Clooney who has starred in half a dozen Soderbergh films, his likely protégé.

The music can only be described as "cool", featuring a jazz combo and the talented singing of Dianne Reeves who, in a surreal studio fly-by, is shown performing on the CBS soundstage, putting the music in a nice perspective.

If you like strong historical films, particularly focusing on scandals or underdogs of 20th century America like "Quiz Show", "Tucker", "The Hoax", or the aforementioned "The Informant!" then don't hesitate to check this out. It's probably the most tense & claustrophobic of the bunch, strangely reminding me of "Das Boot" (a 5-hr film about a bunch of Nazis stuck in a submarine). Maybe the b&w presentation had me fooled, but I was also reminded of the b&w masterpieces "Citizen Kane" (about the questionable success of a very William R Hearst-like character) and maybe even "Dr. Strangelove" (a dark satire about the atomic bomb and America's postwar paranoia).

There aren't any car chases, shootouts, damsels in distress, romantic hook ups, nude scenes, blood & guts, swearing or big laughs in this film. It's rated PG, but the irony is I can't imagine too many teenagers wanting to see it. Nonetheless, it's a well-made, dramatic, important film and a dose of medicine I recommend to everyone.
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balderkitty17 October 2005
This was an amazingly even-handed movie and did not, as another reader noted, focus on McCarthy's personality disorder or alcoholism. "Good Night and Good Luck" is simply amazing.

The cast turned in a world-class performance Strathairn's performance was stunning, Clooney played a brilliantly understated Fred Friendly, Langella played an extraordinary Paley, and Downey's minimalist acting revealed him at his best in years. Alex Borstein also deserves praise: she proved she is not only a gifted comedian, but an outstanding actress.

The movie's slow, measured pace but tense and emotionally charged story is hauntingly reminiscent of the 40s-era and very few great 50's-era film noir. Clooney created a masterpiece and resisted the urge to go "over the top," which resulted in a brilliant movie.

This is a timely, well-crafted movie that far and away deserves at least an Academy nomination, if not the award for best movie of 2005. "Good Night and Good Luck" provides parallels to subsequent world and political crises proving that if we forget the past, we are doomed to make the same errors. "Good Night and Good Luck" is sheer genius.
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