‘Good Night, and Good Luck’: See It Now
If you like news, history and television, TBM can highly recommend George Clooney’s new movie “Good Night, and Good Luck,” a black and white semi-docu-drama that spotlights the 1950’s showdown between CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow and the Junior Senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy.
But the movie isn’t for everyone; witness the six or so people who walked out during the special screening Thursday night in South Tampa.
Perhaps they were expecting “Ocean’s 11.” (In the interest of full disclosure, Clooney directs the movie and plays the key role of CBS producer Fred Friendly, but David Strathairn, as Murrow, is without question the star here – think Oscar performance.)
Randy Myers of Contra Costa Times notes that "Good Night, and Good Luck" expects its audience to arrive at the movie theater “smart.” He is right. Though there are a few light moments, GN&GL by and large expects its audience to be engaged rather than entertained as it chronicles a sort of 20th Century Gunfight at the OK Corral – but with the weapons of choice being rhetoric rather than bullets.
Whoever said, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me" wasn’t around during the McCarthy era when being called Red (or even “Pink”) could end a career.
Still, the movie isn’t perfect: It doesn’t make the case that Communism was the threat it was during that period, which is what made the anti-Communist frenzy possible. And it neglects to show that ol’ Tail-gunner Joe was a popular figure in many circles. (He was, for example, the Godfather to one of Bobby Kennedy’s children.)
However, for those who have a passion for history and substance, it’s a must see.
PS-1: TBM recommends reading Alexander Kendrick's “Prime-Time: The Life of Edward R. Murrow,” an excellent book that puts "Good Night, and Good Luck" into the larger perspective of the newsman’s rich and full life, particularly his years as a war correspondent.
PS-2: One almost walks away from the movie feeling that to be a good journalist in the 1950’s it was necessary to be a chain-smoker – talk about smoke-filled rooms . . .