Reel Reviews

Good Night, and Good Luck



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</script></div>{/googleAds}George Clooney marks his sophomore directorial effort with Good Night, and Good Luck, a technically astute but sometimes creatively crippled film that chronicles the real-life conflict that erupted between television journalist Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) and the pinko-hunting, junior senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy in the early 50s. Shot in black and white, the film is a delicious treat to the eyes as Clooney includes actual archival news footage to steep the film in a rich nostalgic atmosphere.

But while Clooney excels with regards to injecting the film with his own brand of visual acuity and sense of style, we're sometimes left a bit cold and distanced from the story that needs to be told. His insistence upon following the true facts is commendable from the standpoint of creating an accurate documentary or recreating the proceedings for investigative purposes, but it saps the story of its depth and allure. But direction aside, the actual events that occurred are compelling enough to make the film a must-see.

The early fifties were the defining moments of the new medium of television. Many shows that had experienced success on the radio airwaves were making their transition to television. Among those was Edward R. Murrow's documentary news show See It Now that aired on CBS.

Murrow and his crack team of reporters led by his producer Fred Friendly (George Clooney), uncover the story of a young Air Force reservist, Lt. Milo Radulovich, who they suspect was targeted by McCarthy's commie witch hunt team. It seems Radulavich was kicked out of the service for being a security risk to the country. Declared guilty without a trial, he was ordered to out his father and sister as communists lest he remain locked up for a very long time. Of course he refuses, and the files of his case are permanently sealed. Now remember folks, the Patriot Act wouldn't come along for another forty some-odd years.

Murrow defies the advice of CBS number two man Sig Mickelson (Jeff Daniels), and runs their story on Radulovich anyway, even offering to pay the lost advertising revenue from their own pockets. As expected, the jack-booted McCarthy responds with his own accusations that Murrow is a Communist sympathizer.

Like a horsefly nipping at the heels of a dragon, Murrow doesn't bow to McCarthy's pressure. In fact he even steps up his own investigations revealing numerous chinks in the armor of McCarthy's Communist Crusade. Murrow's shows not only demonstrate his own talent as a brilliant on-air journalist, but they also reveal to a skeptical American TV audience, that the distinguished gentleman from Wisconsin might be abusing his congressional powers just a wee bit.

Because of Murrow's cunning prowess and dogged determination, McCarthy was eventually censured by the Senate and CBS was defined as a legitimate news organization. But See It Now was relegated to Sunday afternoons, the Siberia of television significance. Two giants squared off at the peak of their careers, neither would recover.

Still, Murrow is considered THE pioneer of investigative journalism. His legacy and concerns are reinforced by Clooney's themes in Good Night, and Good Luck. And they still ring resonant today. Users are shown the importance of the need to question authority and to take it upon themselves to search for the truth in their own communities. Murrow's producer Fred Friendly, went on to co-create 60 Minutes, a news magazine that still airs today with much of the same journalistic integrity and insight displayed by Murrow himself.

Good Night, and Good Luck will most certainly be a strong force come Oscar time. It's made of all the stuff that causes the Academy to spit up on its own shirtfront, but most audiences like their films a bit more robust and dynamic. Sure, we feel like we're watching the real thing, but we really never get to know the stories behind the men. As a frame-by-frame documentary of the Murrow-McCarthy cockfight it's stunning, as a drama, it's a bit impotent in the hands of Clooney.


DVD

DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 1.85:1

Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

Language and Sound: English: DTS 5.1 Surround

Other Features: Filmed in B&W; interactive menus; scene access; director's commentary; making-of featurette.

* Audio Commentary -
o 1. With actor/director George Clooney and Screenwriter Grant Heslov
* Documentary
o Behind the scenes
o About Milo Radulovich
* Trailer -
o Original theatrical trailer for Good Night, & Good Luck

Number of discs: - 1 - Keepcase Packaging.

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