Friday, December 09, 2005

Good Night, and Good Luck.

GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK. (George Clooney, 2005)

Legendary CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow’s part in the takedown of Senator Joseph McCarthy is dramatized in George Clooney’s GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK. In the midst of the McCarthy-fueled Red Scare and House of Un-American Activities Committee investigations, Murrow (David Strathairn) uses his program SEE IT NOW to question the government’s hunt for communists.

Shot in stark black and white accented with billowing cigarette smoke, GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK. is a well-crafted film assuredly directed by Clooney. He’s assembled a fine roster that includes Robert Downey Jr., Patricia Clarkson, and Jeff Daniels and gives Strathairn a showcase for his crackling embodiment of Murrow.

GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK. works effectively as a snapshot of the McCarthy era, but the film is undoubtedly meant to play as an allegory for the current state of politics and journalism. Stories have come out about supposed terrorists in our midst who face secret allegations and indefinite confinement, and corporate pressure on the news is as much an issue as ever. Clooney’s film is not a call for the news media to abandon objectivity—a concept becoming increasingly perverted by the relativist notion that there are two equal opinions on every matter—but a plea for journalists to serve as society’s watchdogs. Freedom is threatened when authority goes unquestioned and the system is not transparent.

Murrow has been championed as one of the greats and mourned as a dying breed of television journalist. GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK. is a riveting newsroom entertainment that beckons his successors to follow his lead.

Grade: A-

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