Night, and Good Luck.
Directed by: George Clooney
Starring: David Strathairn, Frank
Langella, Robert Downey Jr., Patricia Clarkson,
Jeff Daniels, George Clooney, Dianne Reeves
Released by: Warner Independent
Short: David Strathairn and Frank Langella
highlight an ensemble cast, telling the 1950s
battle between McCarthyism and CBS—with
lessons for our time too.
Very "Good Night"
Black and White Look at Red-time Journalism
By Andrew Bender
If ever there lived a broadcast journalist who deserved to
be called “venerable,” surely it was Edward
R. Murrow. Murrow came to fame as a CBS correspondent
during the World War II bombing of London and was later
the sort of journalist not afraid to be outraged by injustice.
Strathairn makes a remarkable Murrow: buttoned-down and
buttoned-up, sour, self-important, bone-dry, no-nonsense,
trim, terse, wry and riveting. This performance is all
the reason you need to go see this film.
Night, and Good Luck” (the title comes from Murrow’s
sign-off line) recounts Murrow and his crew’s reportage
on the pursuit of communists led by Sen. Joseph McCarthy
in the early 1950s, a process so ruthless that it spawned
its own -ism. Director and co-writer George Clooney surrounds
Strathairn with an ensemble cast including Robert Downey
Jr., Patricia Clarkson, Jeff Daniels and Clooney himself.
Jazz diva Dianne Reeves punctuates the film with song breaks.
movie feels like it was shot for TV, which is appropriate
given the subject matter. Clooney bucks big-screen conventions
like color cinematography and a heroic confrontation scene,
while his images contain telegenic close-ups and archival
footage of the McCarthy hearings. The use of black-and-white
also highlights the clouds of smoke hanging over nearly
every scene, enough smoke to make us (and, we understand,
some of the cast members during filming) queasy.
out the cast is the masterful Frank Langella, who
plays CBS head William S. Paley, regal yet torn between
breaking important news and not offending a government
that may have the power to impede his business. This
conflict makes Paley the most relevant character to
our age, when celebrity gossip and the latest laser
treatments take up TV time that once was devoted to
news that mattered. It’s
refreshing when a film helps people remember the value
of an active Fourth Estate. Frankly, it’s also
a little depressing that we need a film to remind