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good night, and good luck good night, and good luck

Starring: David Strathaim, Ray Wise, George Clooney, Jeff Daniels, Patricia Clarkson, Frank Langella, Robert Downey Jr, and Joe "C.H." McCarthy
Directed and co-written by: George Clooney
Co-Written by: Grant Helov

George Clooney Interview

 

Bluntly 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 power…over fifty years ago.

Story goes…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.

It's 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.

Meanwhile, 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.

Even 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.

The 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.

Whatever 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.

Snack recommendation: Sushi and sashimi; rich in omega 3 brain food - this is a helluva smart film.

 

 

 

 

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