Although the media picked up this movie as a George Clooney (He directed, co-wrote and plays a supporting role in it.) vehicle, Good Night and Good Luck is carried by a superb David Strathairn as veteran broadcaster Edward R. Murrow.
The story centres on the battle between Murrow and Senator Joseph McCarthy in the context of acute paranoia about communist infiltration of American society.
It’s easy to lampoon the times (And McCarthy) now, but at the time, it was a battle between the calm and principled rationalism of people like Murrow who wanted to defend the fundamental rights of people who may or may not have been communists, and an exceptionally popular “Man of the People” who had the ear of a great mainstream section of society. In fact, when you watch the footage of McCarthy, you can’t help but be surprised at how reasonable he could sound.
It was a close run thing, and more to the point, would Murrow have won today, or been removed by advertisers opposed to his “unpatriotic” questioning?
In fact, put it another way: In 2004 the American people had to chose between President Bush, out of his depth but with an emotional message that rang true, and a clearly intelligent and thoughtful Senator John Kerry who was regarded as “Too smart” by many voters. Look who they chose.
Well worth watching, with the support of Frank Langella, Patricia Clarkson, and old television favourite Ray Wise (You’ll know him when you see him.)