21 October 2005 | jotix100
"Good Night, and Good Luck" is the kind of film that has elicited strong opinions in the IMDb forum. In fact, most of the critics point out at the manipulation of the actual events and what they perceive as character assassination of the late Joseph McCarthy and the role he played during the "witch hunt" conducted by the late senator from Wisconsin. Whether these points are right, or wrong, in the minds of the contributors, most seem to disregard the film on that criteria, alone.
In fact, "Good Night, and Good Luck" shows a time in the American past that served as the model in the way television introduced the format in which the news was going to be shown to the country using the emerging technology to keep people informed. As such, CBS under William Paley's leadership, amassed a lot of talent and it became the yardstick in which other news programs were going to be judged against. George Clooney, in his second directorial job, recreates what he and his co-writer, Grant Heslov, thought about that period at the beginning of the era of television news.
The film has a documentary style that serves well to illustrate the story being told. Most of it occurring in the CBS studios in New York during the fifties. The crisp black and white cinematography, by Robert Elswit, gives the movie a nostalgic look to the way things were done in those days. Mr. Clooney has inserted scenes where a black jazz singer interprets some standard songs as though it might have been the next program following the actual news hour, and act as a buffer in the events being presented.
At the center of the story is Edward R. Murrow, the CBS anchor at the time. Mr. Murrow was greatly admired for his contributions during WWII and his broadcasts from London bringing commentaries about the war to America. Mr. Murrow was a giant in the field, most admired by all Americans because his integrity and the way he presented his stories, which ranged from the sublime, to the ridiculous, as it is the case with the interview with Liberace in Sherman Oaks where he asked the entertainer about his future wedding plans.
The strong cast assembled for the film is excellent. David Strathairn, one of our most versatile actors plays the leading role. His take on Murrow's mannerisms and the way he spoke to his audience in front of the camera is captured with great detail. Mr. Strathairn gives a good performance, but one never really knows much about the man in the way the screen play has been written. Yes, one gets the impression of Mr. Murrow's high ethics, but as far as what made him tick, one has to wait for another biopic to find out.
The ensemble cast plays well under Mr. Clooney's direction. Robert Downey Jr., Patricia Clarkson, Ray Wise, Frank Langella, Jeff Daniels, and George Clooney are seen in the newsroom as they portray their models under Mr. Clooney's direction.