Good Night, and Good Luck
Good Night, and Good Luck
2005. Directed by George Clooney.
The world needs more films like this. Good Night, and Good Luck chronicles Edward Murrow and CBS's showdown with Senator McCarthy during the height of the Red Scare. It scored six Academy Award nominations and despite it's cultural significance to the current media and political climate it has been virtually forgotten.
The year is 1953, and broadcast journalism is a fledgling experiment. Edward Murrow and his team of correspondents decide, despite corporate and sponsorship pressure, to dissent against the tactics used by the Junior Senator from Wisconsin, risking their professional and personal reputations in the interest of free thought. Murrow spends much of his time admonishing the viewer (by way of his peers) to remember that television is more than lights and wires and should be used to educate and question our leadership.
Filmed in color and than transferred to black and white, Robert Elswit's Oscar nominated cinematography is ambrosia for the soul. You can feel the moral battle within Murrow and his compatriots as they conspire in cigarette stained office rooms and forgotten speakeasies. The lush scenery is supported by several elements. Clooney brought in the talented Dianne Reeves who performs on camera during various scenes, lyrically chronicling the news team's defeats and triumphs. Louise Frogley's period loyal costumes enhance the flavor of this potent cocktail that glides smoothly towards the ultimate showdown.
David Strathairn delivers the performance of his career. He manages to capture the essence of Murrow's convictions and his very real fear for his friends every time he enters a room or speaks to the audience. The supporting cast is a beyond reproach, featuring delicate and heartbreaking performances by Clooney, Ray Wise, Frank Langella, Robert Downey Jr., Reed Diamond, Patricia Clarkson, Jeff Daniels, and Tate Donovan. McCarthy himself is only glimpsed and heard through recordings of his hearings and statements towards Murrow and it's a remarkable trick.
The most important part of this picture is how it portrays journalism. These are honest, but flawed people trying to do what they feel is the right thing. It's a depiction of the process of good reporting and how difficult it can be to traverse the mine field of American values. Perhaps the recognition of Spotlight was a way of paying tribute to this extremely important film.
Available now on Amazon Prime, Good Night, and Good Luck is essential viewing for historical film fans and anyone who is interested in the tale of one of the most important media stories of our country's history. Viewing this film is not only a journey into the 1950's and the birth of free press, it's also a deadpan reminder of the responsibilities of the media and it's indispensable utility when performed with conviction and integrity.