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Overall Rating
4.24

Awesome57.14%
Worth A Look: 28.57%
Average: 3.81%
Pretty Bad: 1.9%
Total Crap: 8.57%

10 reviews, 45 user ratings


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Good Night, and Good Luck.
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by Erik Childress

"When Someone Asks If Clooney’s A God – You Say YES!"
5 stars

George Clooney clearly has a stake in the world of television. His father, Nick Clooney, was a newsman for years in Cincinnati. A few years back he took a feud against Access Hollywood to the airwaves for using intrusive tactics to sabotage publicity to films that wouldn’t grant them exclusive access. And above all, he’s an American who watches TV. Like any true-blooded, intelligent one there must be a sense of outrage lurking with every turn of the dial as the written word is replaced by reality shows and news is told into a 24-hour tabloid advertisement. Clooney has already directed one film, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, where the line between fact and fiction was blurred courtesy of the founding father of reality television, Chuck Barris. Now with stepping into the world of newsroom deity, Edward R. Murrow, he translates a historic battle against McCarthyism into a fearsome reality that parallels where we are today.

Captured in gorgeous black-and-white by DP Robert Elswit, we’re taken into the hallowed halls of the CBS news department in the 1950s where the staff of Murrow’s “See It Now” were about to take on the biggest story of their run. Murrow (David Strathairn) and his producer, Fred Friendly (Clooney) raise an eyebrow over the case of Milo Radulovich, an Air Force pilot discharged over a Kafkaesque collection of evidence that remained in a sealed envelope. Despite resistance by CBS brass (who agreed, but were fearful of the inevitable repercussions), Murrow goes on the air and challenges how this could be allowed to happen.

For the next seven months, Murrow and his crew would run up the flagpole all the way to McCarthy himself, enduring countless attacks and pressure from their own people that the sponsors won’t last. Boss William Paley (Frank Langella) has backed Murrow from the beginning, never caving to censorship but concerned that the most trusted man in the pre-Cronkite era was taking a shift from reporting to editorializing, which is not what a true newsman does. Those coming from the Right began painting Murrow with not just the ethics brush but also questioning his patriotism during a time when we appeared to be at war with ourselves.

Clooney and co-writer, Grant Heslov, do a great job imposing how subtle fear can make the world go round. McCarthy was afraid of communists. Murrow was fearful of how he went about that and CBS was fearful of how Murrow conducted his business toward uncovering that. There’s also a brilliantly conceived subplot concerning a pair of staffers (Robert Downey Jr. & Patricia Clarkson) who may have a few secrets of their own and a couple of extra dubious smiles watching their guy go on the attack against McCarthy. Where this leads proves to be doubly ironic and a telling statement of how fear can strip us of the basic civil liberties afforded to every citizen of this country – communist or not.

In what will be the greatest piece of irony, many of the film’s detractors will nail Clooney for not sticking with a complete history of Murrow and focusing instead on drawing parallels to a current administration which time will likely award with its own “ism” moniker. Is that just liberal pandering on Clooney’s part or is it just too obvious to overlook. I prefer the latter explanation since facts can likely conclude that more than half of the film was taken verbatim from actual transcripts in the newsroom and during the McCarthy hearings. History may be written by the winners, but we’ve got it all on tape and this is one piece of reality television that doesn’t lie.

Clooney has wonderfully guffawed that they are planning on taking out “For Your Consideration” ads for Joseph McCarthy as Best Supporting Actor. Don’t know quite how many votes he’ll get since on one hand McCarthy does give quite a performance in front of Congress and responding to Murrow’s allegations, but on the other – a true actor must be believable and I don’t know how anyone watching Big Joe can believe any of the crap he was peddling.

David Strathairn is one of those “that guy” actors whom audiences recognize but may not be able to put a face to the name if they heard it. After Good Night and Good Luck, they may confuse Strathairn with Murrow as the two become intertwined here in an extraordinary performance that isn’t just sheer imitation. There is the conviction in his readings recognizing the importance of his statements and the silent gaps which allow the words to sink in and Murrow to contemplate precisely what he’s undertaking. The rest of the staff is also impeccable with Clooney and Langella standing out along with Ray Wise as beleaguered reporter Don Hollenbeck, straining under the pressure of what other reporters think of his reporting.

When Strathairn looks into the camera, as Murrow did, he sells you on the news. It wasn’t about fear or plain old information. He wanted us to think about it. All the business about editorializing that journalism students hear about in school is probably ancient history once they hit the real world. How many newsmen today can you put your trust into without feeling like you’re ratcheting up a political affiliation? Clooney bookends the film with Murrow’s famous 1958 exclamation for the responsibility of television. As a box that reaches millions of viewers it should be used to teach more instead of, he argued, to “distract, delude, amuse and insulate." If the politics fall below one’s ability for common sense and to see both sides of the issue, certainly this is something we can all agree with. As Cassius infamously stated - “the fault dear Brutus is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” But somehow it sounds more potent coming from Edward R. Murrow.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=13156&reviewer=198
originally posted: 10/21/05 14:54:30
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User Comments

9/13/09 Jeff Wilder Great historical docudrama 5 stars
1/16/09 Shaun Wallner Awesome Story! 5 stars
7/30/08 mr.mike It was very well done.4.5 stars. 4 stars
6/10/08 PAUL SHORTT A FANTASTICALLY COMPACT LITTLE FILM, WITH BARELY AN EXTRANEOUS MOMENT 5 stars
5/19/08 davikariout great presentation 5 stars
3/22/08 Pamela White great chronicle of a man's life 4 stars
10/15/07 fools♫gold well-done and thoughtful 5 stars
6/06/07 gr117 Excellent! 5 stars
4/08/07 Rosie i thought it needed more context. events happened too fast MORE CONTEXT!!!! 2 stars
11/14/06 AJ Muller Means now what it meant then; don't let fear force lies into being the accepted truth. 5 stars
8/17/06 Mary Beth hard to follow; guess I didn't get it 3 stars
8/13/06 R.W.Welch No Hollywood hokum here. Straight stuff docudrama. 4 stars
6/16/06 Billy father, father 2 stars
5/10/06 Craig Call Very well done! 4 stars
5/09/06 Captain Craig Now you know what happened to TV and why! 4 stars
4/24/06 millersxing Powerfully exhibits an attention to detail and a trained focus of the historian's gaze. 5 stars
4/07/06 Quigley one of the most patriotic movies I've seen in a while. strathairn was amazing 5 stars
4/05/06 Annie G I felt like I was watching part 2 of a documentary-when did they introduce the characters? 3 stars
4/04/06 Josh Standlee Sorry, people. It had a great cast, but it ended too quickly. 1 stars
4/02/06 Phil M. Aficionado Precise but not as rich in context as I had hoped; didn't show Murrow as a human w/ family 4 stars
3/30/06 sbpat21 a marvelous film 5 stars
3/18/06 MP Bartley Too insular, but a gripping and intelligent character study. Superb acting helps. 4 stars
3/13/06 Roderick Cromar This is great! A movie for adults! With brains! 5 stars
3/08/06 Piz Straight-forward if not boring account of McCarthy vs Cronkite. Well done but very overated 3 stars
2/27/06 Monday Morning Extremely antiseptic -- smart but NO emotion, just speeches. 4 stars
2/22/06 malcolm brilliant. way more exciting than 'aliens versus predator.' 4 stars
2/14/06 John Senational piece of work - riveting, exiting and alas relevant 5 stars
2/14/06 Jin Horribly one-sided and impotent. McCarthy's work was taken way out of context. 1 stars
2/12/06 KCobain Boring, dull, and wishes it was All The Presidents Men with its abrubt ending to nothing. 1 stars
2/12/06 helen bradley Interesting, relevant, David Strathairn’s portrayal of Murrow brilliant 4 stars
1/03/06 john bale Tour de force by David Strathairn in a finely crafted and credible film. 5 stars
12/30/05 Agent Sands Perfectly handled and realized by one of the greatest & most underrated talents in a decade 5 stars
12/24/05 Green Gremlin :We have nothing to fear but fear itself" - FDR 5 stars
12/18/05 ownerofdajoint The early days of corporate media control over the bewildered herd are well depicted here 5 stars
11/18/05 M.F. superb 5 stars
11/18/05 Robert Braunfeld Caprures a time that seems to be lost but not forgotten 5 stars
11/16/05 Richard Maratea The dramatic scences should not have been filmed in B&W. Major flaw. 4 stars
11/15/05 Taylor Fladgate Oscar Oscar Oscar - take that, Bushie! 5 stars
11/13/05 Titus This was gorgeous, pertinent, and brilliantly executed. Best picture of the year, for sure 5 stars
11/11/05 Ionicera flawed but ambitious and relevent 4 stars
11/05/05 jcjs schizoid J. McCarthy's Hitlerian contamination of freedom exposed by E.R. Murrow, truth 5 stars
11/04/05 baseball-nut Not bad but Clooney can still do better! 3 stars
10/25/05 Suzz perfection in directing, acting, writing and scoring 5 stars
10/23/05 Agent Sands Smart and exquisite filmmaking from one of the greatest actor-turned-directors EVER. 5 stars
10/19/05 the untrained eye proving that "Confessions..." was no fluke 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  07-Oct-2005 (PG)
  DVD: 14-Mar-2006

UK
  17-Feb-2006

Australia
  15-Dec-2005




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