Good Night, and Good Luck is an outstanding drama based on the true story of a CBS news crew with true grit.
Strathairn (Missing in America, “The Sopranos”) plays Edward Murrow, the television journalist who took a stand against Senator Joseph McCarthy during the “Red Scare” of the ’50s. Although they knew that reporting McCarthy’s reckless abuse of power, as opposed to portraying him as a hero and a champion of American patriotism as was the trend, would put them in the position to be targeted, Murrow and his crew stayed true to the responsibilities of honest journalism.
The film is shot in black and white with a slightly grainy texture, which helps to give it the feel of the ’50s. Clooney also uses actual footage of McCarthy and other guests who appeared on Murrow’s show “See It Now,” and what appear to be very historically authentic props.
However, it is the acting and the dialogue that convince the audience of what they are seeing. Strathairn’s every little move, draw of a cigarette or sideways glance at the camera become the grandest gestures in convincing you that you are witnessing the real Edward Murrow.
Downey and Clarkson, who portray a couple forced to live secret lives, are so subtle that you hold your breath when they whisper secrets. Even Clooney does a decent job as Fred Friendly, Murrow’s supportive, if a little anxious, producer.
The film does a masterful job of portraying the gravity of the time. Everyone was so afraid of being labeled a communist sympathizer, no one dared speak their true thoughts or feelings out loud. The film transfers this extreme tension to the audience.
By the time Murrow and his crew experience their first small triumph, a supportive article in The New York Times, the sense of imprisonment is reaching its breaking point and you may find yourself cursing that self-righteous senator.
It leads one to wonder if the producers had a motive in coming out with this film during a time when most media outlets have been accused of being “sold out” and opposition to certain administrative decisions has, on several occasions, been met with accusations of “Terrorist Sympathizer.”
Whatever the case, Good Night and Good Luck is an outstanding film that everyone would see, if not for an example of courage under fire, then at least to experience what good film making is like.