George Clooney directs and stars in the story of Edward R. Murrow, a television reporter who was the only one courageous enough to stand up to the McCarthy communist witch hunt of the 1950’s.
Well crafted, shot in atmospheric black and white and inter cut with actual footage from the time, the sense of period is spot on but it is the parallels with modern day America that were very much on the minds of the makers of this film. It opens with Murrow’s denunciation of TV, which he says has become nothing but a distraction and insulation from the important events of the outside world. In the meantime senator McCarthy is judge, jury and executioner for suspects with “anti-American” sentiments who are condemned without trial, or even a shred of hard evidence. Murrow himself, whose program was attacked by the far right for slanting the facts using left wing bias and quotations taken out of context – something that will sound familiar to the likes of Michael Moore – was targeted in a similar smear campaign for his efforts. It seems not much has changed in the last 50 years. As a film, I’d have to say that the lack of in depth characterisation of the individuals involved meant that there was little in the way of emotional drama; the suicide of a colleague and resignation of a married couple to save the jobs of others seemed soapy and rather tacked on.
Good Night, And Good Luck will never change the world, but it uses the medium to make an intelligent political point, and has a simple honesty and integrity of which Murrow would’ve have approved.