QUICK TAKE: Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005)

By Miguel E. Rodriguez

Director: George Clooney
Cast: David Strathairn, Patricia Clarkson, George Clooney, Jeff Daniels, Robert Downey Jr., Frank Langella
My Rating: 8/10
Rotten Tomatometer: 93% Certified Fresh

PLOT: In the early 1950s, broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow (Strathairn) looks to bring down Senator Joseph McCarthy.

I feel eminently unqualified to discuss the historical merits of Good Night, and Good Luck.  I am no history scholar.  What I know about the Hollywood blacklist and the HUAC hearings can be traced to sources such as movie reviews, the movies themselves, documentaries, and The Manchurian Candidate.  (The original, not the remake.)

As such, all I can report is that this movie is solidly well-made, photographed in gorgeous black and white, and is an immensely satisfying experience, because a bully gets what’s coming to him, on national television.  If there are times when it lags a little, well, civics lessons can’t be fireworks all the time.

David Strathairn is not quite a dead ringer for legendary newsman Edward R. Murrow, but he’s close enough, and he’s never less than convincing, especially when delivering Murrow’s broadcasts in that inimitable deadpan that somehow sounds more informed than the average reporter.

I especially enjoyed the segment where McCarthy appears on Murrow’s program to defend himself against charges made by Murrow on a previous show.  Shortly thereafter, Murrow goes over McCarthy’s rebuttal line by line, identifying each falsehood and inaccuracy.  That took guts back then, but Murrow stood for truth, as corny as that sounds, and he wasn’t about to let McCarthy’s lies slide.

All in all, Good Night, and Good Luck is a great film, maybe even an IMPORTANT film, because of our ever-shifting political climate.  You never know if another McCarthy will rise up, and you wonder if anyone will be around, like Murrow, to put them in their place.

[TRIVIA NOTE: look fast for Simon Helberg (Wolowitz on “The Big Bang Theory”) in what amounts to approximately five seconds total screen time.]

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