night, and good luck
David Strathaim, Ray Wise, George Clooney, Jeff Daniels, Patricia Clarkson, Frank
Langella, Robert Downey Jr, and Joe "C.H." McCarthy
co-written by: George Clooney
Co-Written by: Grant Helov
speaking? good night, and good luck is a uniquely timely period piece
that gloriously interweaves real footage from the witch-hunt trails, hearings,
and newspaper articles aside tremendous behind-the-story stories to weave a incredibly
indelible, and absolutely electric tale about the whole dreadful "McCarthy
Era," as seen through master journalist Edward R. Murrow's involvement, and
his hands-on battle with the ill-informed Senator with the till-then unchecked
over fifty years ago.
we meet Edward R Murrow (David Strathairn) as he's delivering his weekly
broadcast. He's already established himself via war correspondence coverage. America
listens to, and trusts in him. Murrow is the tangible entity of the freedom of
the press and ethics creed.
1953 when we focus in, and there were three television stations to watch. One,
called CBS or Columbia Broadcasting Station, was establishing itself as a channel
that brought world issues and current affairs into your living room - with their
war-hero correspondent at the helm of a weekly current affairs show.
Senator Joseph McCarthy (appearing as himself here via archive footage) started
his campaign for a communist free America. He ran it as delicately as a John Deere
mega-tractor through a patch of mid-summer Sunflowers; steamrolling, without thought
of consequence for his alleged commie infiltrators; this time is still a deep
and resounding slash in America's lifeline.
the press (for fear of themselves being whipped up into the wrath of McCarthy)
watched and quietly stood by as McCarthy fed on America's fear like a human tick.
Murrow, however and his fearless producer-friend, Fred Friendly (George Clooney),
decided they'd had enough, after one particularly rancid, firmly unconstitutional,
inditment came to their attentions.
They, together with their crew and staff at CBS, checked and rechecked and decided
to stand up to McCarthy nationally on this new fandangled box of wires
and motion, lights and words, that fed the brains across the land - the television.
This was a dangerous endeavor; financially, and career wise - not to mention of
course, McCarthy would be sure to aim his evil death ray of commie expulsion right
at CBS, and in particular Mr. Murrow.
The film is true. It's artful and
delightfully dramatic too - but still elegant in its ability to tell the story
while avoiding finger pointing; there's no need to really, it's all there in literal
black and white.
film is actually shot in black and white, and takes an intimate look at a slice
of the phenomenal career of Edward R. Murrow, and the power of journalism,
during that whole dreaded Joe McCarthy era (Joe McCarthy, the source of the phrase
McCarthyism; the civil liberties basher and "Commie Hunter," you may
recall from your American History class years ago... ). Today, as with most soapbox
witch-hunts, along with the thought of say women in corsets mum and primped in
the parlor, we semi-giggle at how ridiculous this McCarthy's campaign to stamp
out "commies" among us was. But while it went on, his "hearings,"
and ambiguous accusations ruined many lives
and was by far, not a laughing
matter to even be muttered among Americans - or you could be next.
your personal political agenda, or belief, you cannot ignore the film's message
of the importance of truth in journalism - as an ethic, a code, and a way of life
- for the better of the world; good or bad. And the reiteration that unchecked
power of a counterfactual crusade, which serves to whirl folks up into some frothy
frenzy of fear, can only lead to irrational decisions, erroneous accusations and
innocent casualties. Know the truth, check the facts, and don't believe everything
you read or hear - educate yourself then pick a side.
The film's feel (thanks to director of photography Robert Elswit), message (interwoven
with pure unmitigated facts that have been checked and rechecked by Clooney and
Heslov), style (the kinetic feel of the newsroom abuzz and production designer
Jim Bessell's eye) - even the music (Allen Sviridoff supervising Rose-ish
notes) - is perfectly appropriate and personal. Awards-wise expect a nod or three
for Mr. Strathain next spring - he was positively magnetic as the strong-willed,
ethically driven, definition of a once-in-a-lifetime powerforce, Edward R. Murrow.
And perhaps as screenwriters, Heslov and Clooney will receive a coupla statuettes
to place upon the rococo fireplace mantle facing Lake Coumo. Enjoy.
recommendation: Sushi and sashimi; rich in omega 3 brain food - this is a
helluva smart film.