Broadcast journalist Edward Murrow looks to bring down Senator Joseph McCarthy.
David Strathairn, Robert Downey Jr., Patricia Clarkson, Ray Wise, Frank Langella, Jeff Daniels, George Clooney, Tate Donovan, Thomas McCarthy, Matt Ross, Reed Diamond, Robert John Burke, Grant Heslov, Alex Borstein, Rose Abdoo
I was a little disappointed with this film, but that might be the result of having extremely high hopes. “Good Night, and Good Luck,” tells the story of CBS Newsman Edward R. Murrow’s courageous fight against Senator Joseph McCarthy. As a student of both history and journalism, I have viewed Murrow as a hero and was very excited to see this film. Overall, David Strathairn’s performance is impeccable, capturing Murrow’s nuances, genius, and even the cigarette addiction that eventually killed him.
George Clooney directed this film and plays Fred Friendly, who produced Murrow’s broadcasts. Clooney also is credited with co-writing the screenplay, and that’s where the problem arises. Aside for the lengthy film footage of actual Senate sub-committee testimony, and the genuine, on-screen words of Murrow and others, the screenplay is sparse. There just wasn’t much tension in the film, and it showed little of the struggles taking place around the stories.
This story was clearly as a warning that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it…unfortunately, I think it might have come out too late.
We get very little insight into the characters of Murrow, Friendly, and CBS President William Paley (played by Frank Langella). In addition, Clooney wastes a superb supporting cast including Patricia Clarkson, Robert Downey Jr., and Jeff Daniels.
Clearly, George Clooney has made a noble film that captures the spirit of the time and the words of those involved, and if there was ever any doubt that McCarthy was a self-serving hypocrite, it is erased by this film. But the director failed to develop characters that were interesting in their own right. As such, the film is only slightly more involving than a documentary on the subject might have been.