It is hard to believe that there was a time when journalism was like this. Reporting consisted of people who took a stance and stood by it. They had the courage to report the news in a truly objective manner. They were not perfect mind you. They were flawed like you and me. But they were free thinking, and given the opportunity to be controversial, and ask hard questions. I don’t see that too much these days.
“Good Night, And Good Luck” is a recount of the now famous stand off between Edward R. Murrow and Senator Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy at the time was trying to weed out the communist threat from within. His tactics were unconstitutional, and stripped people of their basic freedoms. Murrow went on air to fight against such acts. Murrow is played here by David Straithairn in a performance that is quiet and effective. Most of the time he looks on at the people around him. Straithairn seems to be a master at internal emotion. He can suggest certain things with his eyes. He doesn’t much look like Murrow, but he gets his mannerisms and dialect just right.
George Clooney writes, directs and co-stars as Fred Friendly, Murrow’s producer. He shoots in black and white to give us feelings of nostalgia for that particular time period. What he achieves is a movie of power and intrigue. His father was a newscaster for years so he knows this type of material inside out. His message is very clear. What McCarthy did was a liar and character assassination is down right wrong.
The interesting thing here is that McCarthy is actually a character in this movie. He plays him self in several clips of actual footage. I had heard from a few people that they thought his performance was embellished a little bit or whoever they had play him was overacting. Think again. These are actual clips of McCarthy himself. Yes he was that over the top. Not too far from current political figures of today.
Over all the movie is about the internal workings of the CBS corporation. Almost every scene takes place with in the CBS building. We get to see the pressure that Murrow and his team receive from their sponsors and the blind support he gets from the owners and producers.
In the end I think what this movie achieves the most is accurately capturing a little piece of history. Clooney doesn’t so much smother us with his politics as he watches particular people at a particular time. I’m sure that the time in which he decided to release this movie had a few things to do with our current political climate, but isn’t that what the cinema is all about? Getting us to think and express our ideas and opinions? One would hope so.