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Good Night, and Good Luck (PG)

Real-life conflict between TV news man Edward R Murrow & Senator Joseph McCarthy.

March 9, 2006
A short film about truth. That could be an alternative title for Good Night and Good Luck. Yet although it packs more philosophical punch than most other pics put together, it's not quite short enough. There's a restless feel - not just in the bustly recreations of a 50s newsroom in a time of tension. But jazz song interludes - meant to offer a commentary and time for reflection - feel like padding and get in the way. Episodic and elegant, it's still a striking film. Good, but not consistently gripping. The performances are solid, the sheeny, smoky visuals a treat. And the words, words, words are wonderful. Brave thing, to give such focus to what are essentially talking heads. No wonder the film makes a plea for intelligent telly and, by implication, cinema too. This is a film that battles Big Brother in more ways than one.
*SPOILERS*

Excellent film and beautifully shot etc. However I felt the ending jarred slightly and this could have been a case or poor editing.

When Murrow's show is bumped back to the Sunday slot due to pressure being heaped on the head on CBS, I wanted to know more about what Murrow did about it.

Murrow and Fred (played by Clooney) vowed to tackle external political pressure in journalism.

We then cut to Murrow's tribute dinner, and then the titles.

The audience in the Phoenix cinema seemed unsure whether that was the end of the film and there was a collective 'Is that it ? ' feeling in the cinema.

Excellent up to that point, but felt I was having a great meal and was then told the restaurant was closing before I'd had my dessert or coffee!
Utterly superb,intelligent and beautifully shot. The acting is flawless in particular Strathairn's intense and very still performance, portraying Murrow as a deeply thinking man with a profound sense of justice and integrity. The supporting cast is also wonderful, and the feeling of quiet hysteria and fear generated by McCarthy is palpable.

The message is still relevant today and chillingly reflects a lot of current events a bit too closely. A depressing reminder of how, sadly, things haven't moved on a great deal.

It is not only a denunciation of censorship but also a powerful reminder of the journalistic responsibility to inform the public and resist the potent urge to either dumb-down or give in to public or private pressures. If you have more than half a brain you should enjoy this.
This film brings up the rather topical McCarthy anti-communist trials and the role that journalist Edward Murrow had in standing up to the climate of fear created by the cold war.

McCarthy alleged that up to 200 communists had infiltrated the American establishment, and set up congressional hearings to investigate and expose communists and those associated with them. Partly through Murrow's refusal to bow to censorship despite personal risk, McCarthy was indicted and removed from office.

The main feature of this film is the decision to combine real footage of the time with the naturalistic black and white filmed action. This means that the action is somewhat slower and muted; this is not a film for those without a decent attention span. Instead of dramatic dialogue, shots or music, the film draws its power purely from the emotional climate created by events.

The ensemble cast all peform brilliantly, though obviously the intensity of Strathairn's Murrow stands out. Also worth a mention is the return to our screens of Robert Downey Jr, demonstrating precisely why he has not disappeared altogether despite his off-screen problems.

Overall it is a superbly made film that doesn't talk down to its audience and avoids lionising Edward Murrow unduly.
A note of caution must be struck, however, about its almost nakedly political point in the current climate of the war on terror. Whilst Clooney and others may feel they are victimised for their anti-establishment and anti-war views, it can hardly be compared to the fear created by the McCarthy trials. Nevertheless, there is an important message about journalistic integrity and the role of media that shines through.
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