Good Night, And Good Luck (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner03/11/2005

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 93 mins

George Clooney’s second film as a director is a sharply scripted film with a terrific central performance from David Strathairn and a message that has lost none of its relevance in the last 50 years.

The Background
It’s tempting to believe that George Clooney is a little bit obsessed with iconic American media figures – Good Night, And Good Luck is his long-awaited follow-up to Chuck Barris biopic Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.

It tells the story of celebrated newsman Edward R. Murrow’s real-life clash with Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee. Filmed in black and white, it’s an extremely dialogue-heavy drama with a sharp, politically relevant script and a terrific ensemble cast.

The Story
David Strathairn plays renowned CBS newscaster Edward R. Murrow, who made a name for himself early in his career with a series of rooftop broadcasts from London during the Blitz, before moving into broadcast journalism after the war.

In the 1950s, with Senator McCarthy’s communist witch hunts at their height, Murrow and his news team (including George Clooney, Robert Downey Jnr and Patricia Clarkson) decide to give McCarthy a little poke with a stick by examining his lies and scare-mongering tactics. This develops into a very public feud when McCarthy retaliates by accusing Murrow of being a communist.

The Good
Good Night, And Good Luck (which takes its title from Murrow’s nightly sign-off) plays out like an intense newsroom drama – there are no exterior shots and the majority of scenes take place either in the newsroom, the studio or the pub. Similarly, a large part of the film consists of Strathairn recreating Murrow’s broadcasts, so there’s little opportunity to really get to know any of the characters.

Clooney is clearly more interested in the specific Murrow vs McCarthy clash rather than a biopic of Murrow himself. This turns out to be both a strength and a weakness – it intensifies the drama of the conflict itself, but leaves you wanting to know more about the people involved.

The Great
David Strathairn is terrific as Murrow – his broadcasts are genuinely stirring and carry an important message about the role of the media in questioning the government’s power that is as relevant today as it was then. The supporting cast are equally good, with Clooney (as producer Fred Friendly), Clarkson, Downey Jnr and Frank Langella (as CBS head honcho William Paley) the stand-outs.

The Conclusion
In short, Good Night, And Good Luck is an enjoyable, well written drama with an intelligent, witty screenplay, stunning photography and a terrific, Oscar-worthy central performance from Strathairn. Recommended.

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Content updated: 17/07/2018 07:02

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