“Good Night, And, Good Luck.” takes place during the early days of broadcast journalism in 1950’s America. It chronicles the real-life conflict between television newsman Edward R. Murrow and Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee. With a desire to report the facts and enlighten the public, Murrow, and his dedicated staff – headed by his producer Fred Friendly and Joe Wershba in the CBS newsroom – defy corporate and sponsorship pressures to examine the lies and scaremongering tactics perpetrated by McCarthy during his communist ‘witch-hunts’. A very public feud develops when the Senator responds by accusing the anchor of being a communist. In this climate of fear and reprisal, the CBS crew carries on and their tenacity will prove historic and monumental.
The United States is in dire need of a free and independent press that is free from corporate control and government censorship. In Good Night, and Good Luck, director George Clooney brilliantly illustrates the newsmen who dared to defy senator McCarthy and his witch hunt against Communist sympathizers a half century ago. The timing of this film isn’t a coincidence. It’s a shame that the mainstream media refuses to follow the example that newsman Edward R. Murrow set while television journalism was still in its infancy. If you need to brush up on your post World War II foreign policy and ’40s and ’50s Cold War politics one needn’t worry. However familiar you are with McCarthyism, it isn’t a chore to follow and the consequences of Murrow’s groundbreaking journalism are quite apparent. Without doubt, this is the most interesting and enthralling film that’s been released in the last few years. The cinematography is simply beautiful, and Clooney seamlessly intermingles actual footage of McCarthy with the film which makes the films message all the more powerful. A wonderful inclusion in the film was the soundtrack by Diane Reeves who was portrayed in recording sessions at the CBS studios where the film took place. Songs like I’ve Got My Eyes on You, and TV Is the Thing This Year capture the feeling of 1950’s America. From the thick-rimmed glasses, starched white shirts and chain smoking the characters exhibited Clooney’s portrayal of Edward R. Murrow and his CBS news crew is spot-on. In a short, sweet span of 90 minutes Clooney fashioned a masterpiece that has been released in one of the most crucial times for journalism in American history. One can only hope that the days of direct, honest and controversial journalism won’t remain associated with the Watergates and McCarthyisms of the past, and will serve as a reminder to journalists of their duty to the public.
Review by Emma Loggins