Good Night & Good Luck

“Good Night, and Good Luck” is a highly stylised film dealing with the impact of McCarthyism on journalism. The central focus is the decision of a real-life television program hosted by Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) who decides that McCarthy needs to be confronted and exposed for the unfair impact he was having on the lives of so many people. The motivation for this was an obscure news item about an air force serviceman who was dismissed because his father had been a communist (or something like that).

The movie is highly stylised with the black and white photography creating a sense of 1950s television, especially as much of the film features Murrow speaking directly to the screen, as would have been the case back then. There’s also a recurrent musical theme with Dianne Reeves providing a narrative of her own as a 1950s blues singer, especially memorable as she sings about how the world was changing due to television. The film also seemlessly incorporates real footage from the time, including a piece of McCarthy where he “loses it” which I’d never seen before.

The actors are all very good, including George Clooney and Robert Downey Jnr (who both have 1950s faces – if you know what I mean) and it’s truly an ensemble piece with no one actor standing out as any better than the others.

As a journalist and broadcaster myself I found the subject matter compelling and fairly dealt with. However, at times I felt the journalists were actually a bit “up themselves”, far too imbued with their own self-importance. This was perhaps one weakness in the film… I imagine there might have been more debate within the group of journalists about how they covered the issues than appeared in the film. Or perhaps that’s “me and my stuff”…

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