Edward R. Murrow: We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse, and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it, and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late.
If you like historical political dramas then look no further than George Clooney’s Good Night, and Good Luck. This movie is set in the era of McCarthyism in the United States when the threat of Communism created an air of paranoia. What I admire so much about this movie is the sense of realism it projects and the depth and nuance of the all performances. In my opinion Clooney has never been better on or off camera than he is here. This 7 million dollar project is handled with such deft hands and finesse by Clooney that it’s difficult not to feel a sense of awe with the ease as a viewer you slip into the strange events of this gritty drama. It feels flawlessly executed.
IMDB Storyline: 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.
The movie takes its title from the line with which Murrow routinely signed off his broadcasts. The film received critical acclaim for Clooney’s direction, the writing, cinematography, production design, and performances (particularly Strathairn’s). It was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Clooney and Best Actor for Strathairn. In September 2005, Clooney explained his interest in the story to an audience at the New York Film Festival: “I thought it was a good time to raise the idea of using fear to stifle political debate.” Having majored in journalism in college, Clooney was well-versed in the subject matter. His father, Nick Clooney, was a television journalist for many years, appearing as an anchorman in many cities in the United States. Clooney and producer Grant Heslov decided to use only archival footage of Joseph McCarthy in his depiction. As all of that footage was black-and-white, that determined the color scheme of the film.
I find of nearly all my favourite political dramas Good Night, and Good Luck one of the most appealing to revisit. It is of comparative short duration and doesn’t get bogged down in the weeds to become wearisome, over sentimental or politically ideological. It finds this delicate balance and nuance to attract the viewer by its integrity and truthfulness. The nostalgic music soundtrack of that era makes you feel you are literally being transported to that time and place. 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. This film succeeds on all levels.
Interesting Movie Trivia (IMDB):
- George Clooney was paid one dollar each for writing, directing, and starring in the film. This helped keep the film’s costs low, coming in at a budget of just 7.5 million dollars.
- Each morning, George Clooney would gather his cast members together and give them copies of the newspapers from that day in 1953. He’d then give them an hour and a half, working on old manual typewriters, to copy out the stories from the paper. He would then hold an improvised news conference with hidden cameras, in which the cast members would then pitch their stories to the editor, just like a real newsroom.
- 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”.
I have attached below a song by Dianne Reeves ‘There’ll be another Spring’ which features in the soundtrack. In fact, precisely every 23 minutes (the standard running time of television shows from the 1950s), the film is punctuated by a jazz song performed by Dianne Reeves.
This one sounds really good. The McCarthyism era really pisses me off thinking of it. The lives it ruined for no good reason.
It’s a really gown up and sophisticated movie. I find it gets better with revisits since there’s just so much going on in between the lines. I think you and your son would really enjoy it!