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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars sit up and take notice
It can be a strange thing when history repeats itself, so it seems no accident that George Clooney chooses now to take his second stab at directing, choosing as his subject the McCarthy Anti-Communist Witch hunts of the 1950's, another time when to speak out against the American government would have you branded as a traitor. Taking its title from Ed Murrows famous...
Published on 3 Feb 2007 by Mr. Rwj Nixon

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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not great
It's not a bad film. Considering this is only Clooney's 2nd outing as a director, I think it's a very mature effort. The black and white photography is done well, and the decision not to have an actor to play Senator McCarthy - and just show newsreel of him - is also a very good decision. And the message is important, particularly today. The parallels between current...
Published on 4 Aug 2006 by Donaldo


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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lacks somewhat in focus and tension, but still worthwhile, 9 Feb 2006
By 
Dennis Littrell (SoCal/NorCal/Maui) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Good Night and Good Luck [DVD] (DVD)
I won't join the chorus of accolades for George Clooney for his direction of this movie, but I will give him credit for making it. The way the press has been pushed around (and especially let itself be pushed around) during the George W. Bush years is a disgrace, and it is good that Clooney is here to remind us of a journalist who had the guts to go after a power-hungry demagog whose agenda included finding traitors among those who disagreed with him. Sound familiar?
So, just as Arthur Miller's celebrated play The Crucible was timely in that it symbolically chastised those who would conduct witch hunts in the name of patriotism, Clooney's film is timely in that it reminds the Fourth Estate of its responsibility, a responsibility sorely neglected in the buildup to the war in Iraq.
As far as the film itself goes, a black and white fusion of documentary footage and an acted-out story line, it was good, but not great. David Strathairn, playing Edward R. Murrow, certainly had Murrow's voice, cadences and mannerisms down pat. However, because there would be a viewer's eye conflict with the actor's appearance and the way the real Edward R. Murrow looked, we were unfortunately not shown footage of Murrow himself. Which is a shame. Even though I was a child at the time, seeing Murrow's dark, penetrating presence on the old Muntz TV was indelible. He had a way of talking straight to the viewer and doing so in a manner that was clear, fair and to the point. Strathairn does a good job of reenacting that presence.
And it was good to see some footage of the demagoging junior Republican senator from Minnesota, Joseph McCarthy, in all his drunken, bullying vainglory. And I was fascinated to see President Eisenhower giving a spirited speech. Indeed the film managed to atmospherically recall the era of the early fifties when TV was all in black and white and everybody smoked to excess, especially Murrow. (But softening accusations of receiving Big Tobacco money, Clooney was wise to include an old TV commercial for Kent cigarettes in which the hyping of their new "safe" filters sounds cruelly ironic today.)
Frank Langella was excellent as Murrow's careful, yet supportive boss, media legend William Paley. And Clooney himself played a nicely understated Fred Friendly. I have to say however that the film lacked a certain tension and that the focus was not as clearly defined as it might have been. A film without much tension and with a fuzzy focus can be boring (as some viewers have had the temerity to point out). Yet would it have been better to have simplified the issues for the sake of an easier understanding and accessibility for the average viewer? I don't know, but if I had been Clooney I would have more directly tied the issue of the responsibility and independence of a free press (the central issue in the film) in with what is happening today and what has happened in recent years.
Almost stopping the show by herself was jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves singing some of the standards of the era, including "How High the Moon," "One for My Baby," etc., and the very catchy and ironic, "TV is the Thing This Year." Her easy but intense concentration, her beautiful voice, and her exquisite timing were for me one of the highlights of the movie.
Bottom line: After seeing this on a return flight from Hawaii I can now say that not EVERY film that I have seen on an airline has been unwatchable. However flawed, Good Night, and Good Luck is definitely worth the time and effort, especially for those who care about the history of broadcast journalism and governmental attempts to control the media.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Critique, If Not The One You Expect, 23 Jun 2008
By 
pjr (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Good Night and Good Luck [DVD] (DVD)
George Clooney freely admits that "Ocean's Twelve" was made in order to ensure that both this and "Syriana" saw the light of day. Perhaps this is a case of making a silk purse out of a sow's ear. It is heartening to see something of use coming out of that.

"Good Night & Good Luck" seems, on the surface, to be a film about the witch hunts of Joseph McArthy against perceived threat of communism in America. The film traces journalist Ed Murrow's televisual campaign to discredit the committee set up to investigate this and also McArthy himself. Using newsreel footage to illustrate McArthy's interrogations highlights his approach excellently and also highlights the film's liberal tendencies, but this film isn't a critique on paranoia from invisible threats. It could be argued that the modern equivalent is the war on terror but this is merely the context.

The film opens with a speech delivered by Murrow 5 years after the central action of the film takes place. Here Murrow warns of the potential for television to abandon the prinicples of a high-minded media for mere trivia. The description of a possible future televisual landscape obsessed with the mundane seems to quite adequately describe the current state of the media. The film nicely illustrates the tensions of producing bold campaigning issue based programmes in prime time. Essentially this is a better, more intellgent, serious minded version of "Broadcast News".

David Strathairn's Murrow is excellent. He captures a real sense of the purpose and drive of a man who not only sees McArthy as a narrow-minded bully but a threat to democratic and free speech. Supported by a large cast of uniformly excellent actors, this is not star vehicle it well could have been. The likes of Ray Wise as a beleguared anchorman, Robert Downey Jr. as slick reporter, and Frank Lingella as the CBS chief executive shining through as jewels in this richly well acted crown.

That doesn't mention Clooney who both performs in, writes, and directs here. His performance is good but it's the direction which shines. The film looks just right with the rather bleached black and white tones of cinematographer Robert Elswit effectively evoking a sense of the past. This is extremely taught and sharp. Not only does he get the excellent cast performing but he keeps the film moving nicely. It slips by nicely seeming longer than its rather spare 89 minutes. The pace is partly due to the lovely musical contributions of jazz singer Dinanne Reeves. The opening song, "Come Dance With Me", has never sounded better.

The film won't please all, it's the story of the brave man facing down his detractors in the name of integrity, wearing its liberal credentials on its sleeve. Yet it's also probably the best critque of the morality of television since "Quiz Show".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice history lesson, 22 Jan 2008
By 
Dr. R. G. Bullock "Gavin Bullock" (Winchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Good Night and Good Luck [DVD] (DVD)
Ed Murrow was an important figure in American television during the 50s and at the time of the Un-American Activities Committee of the Senate was courageous enough to speak out against the despicable McCarthy, a paranoid drunk who chaired the committee. McCarthy ran this rather on the lines of Soviet show trials, with rules of evidence and judicial procedures generally shown little respect. McCarthy's activities broke the lives of hundreds of people, many greatly talented, or drove them into exile. This film shows Murrow taking the decision, with the somewhat fractious support of his boss, to editorialise at the end of his show, criticising McCarthy's methods. That a large broadcasting corporation like CBS allowed this says something good about those times and is something that would not happen today. An interesting thing was the way Morrow and his colleague pay for the advertising slot the sponsor refused to pay for given Murrow's controversial stance. In the USA, it is the advertisers that are the censors.

That George Clooney produced this film at this time suggests he is making parallels with Bush's America. Since 9/11, the media in the USA has been timid in criticising the government. Instead of Communists, the enemy has become the liberals (what we would call moderates or centrists). The Patriot Act (how often is the word 'patriot' or 'patriotic' linked to repressive policies?), massive phone tapping and replacement of the management of Public Service Broadcasting by 'politically acceptable' personnel are just a few examples of repression. Meanwhile, Fox News editorialises non-stop for the political right. McCarthy had a very broad idea of what a Communist was and included anyone with leftish tendencies. It is my view that Clooney sees the two eras as showing different manifestations of political intolerance by the far right which could progress to unthinkable changes to the governance of the USA if not vigorously opposed.

Murrow is shown, correctly, as a chain smoker. This led to his untimely death from lung cancer a some years later.

The acting in the film is first rate. Much of the cinematography was done with a hand-held camera but this has been used judiciously to get into small spaces. There is none of that jerking and wobble put in for 'artistic effect' by many 'creative' cameramen. There are times, though, when part of the field is obscured by intruding heads or bits of the studio structure. The dialogue is naturalistic, with people talking across each other but this can make it difficult to pick out the important bits. The general atmosphere is a bit claustrophobic but wasn't the whole country claustrophobic in those days.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting take on McCarthyism., 20 Sep 2007
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This review is from: Good Night and Good Luck [DVD] (DVD)
George Clooney's second film from behind the camera focuses-sorry,couldn't resist the pun!!-on the bad old days of McCarthy's hysterical anti-communist crusade in the early 1950s.It centres on the reporting of Ed Murrow(played by David Strathairn),and the reaction against it by the right(not just McCarthy)and Murrow's struggles with the suits at CBS trying to get and keep his reporting on the air.
Clooney plays a producer for Murrow-well acted,but he keeps a low profile in most of the film.The parallels between the anti-communist hysteria of the 1950s and the flagwaving jingoism post 11/09/01 are obvious,and Clooney dosen't strees them,they emerge naturally as the film goes on.
Let's hope Clooney continues to be interested in making odd,non-Hollywood films-if the suits at the studios let him!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking, 20 Oct 2009
By 
J. S. Hardman "Consultant software developer ... (Near London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Good Night and Good Luck [DVD] (DVD)
A thought-provoking film that is a reminder of how history repeats itself. A story of how, sometimes, it is necessary for a few people to display the courage to stand up to a hysterical, even tyrannical, part of government. This film is a salutary reminder that government sometimes needs reminding of what liberty and freedom are all about.

I can understand that not everybody will appreciate this film - it's not the Bourne Supremacy for instance. It is slow-paced, shot in black and white, set almost exclusively inside a TV studio/news room, and the story is in the dialogue and news-reel type footage rather than action shots. It's beautifully lit and filmed. The acting is excellent. It won't be for everybody, but it works for me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paranoia rules., 11 Oct 2009
By 
Thomas A. Mcdowall "Big Tam" (Midlands, England) - See all my reviews
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Great individual performances by all participants and in particularly that of David Strathairn, with a story line which could be regarded as too far fetched had it not been historical fact. Shot in black, this film captures the sense of justified paranoia felt by those of liberal persuasion in the 'land of the free.' A brilliant portrait of how easily the masses can be manipulated by those in power against a minority who wish only to live their lives in accordance with their personal credo. Shades of Stalinist oppression thought-out whereby the exercise of freedom of speech in order to criticise ones masters is stamped upon. Courage and personal sacrifice prevail in the destruction of Senator McCarthy's madcap denunciations. This should have been the USA's darkest period. Sadly history has shown that this was not to be the case.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History on the hoof, 13 Mar 2009
This review is from: Good Night and Good Luck [DVD] (DVD)
The background to the fall of Senator Joe Macarthy in the 50s - watch it to see how one man and his team made a difference to the Commie purge and the lives it destroyed. Like many US movies the mumbling sound track somewhat causes difficulties, but despite that, it's a great film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Skilfully crafted and thought provoking, 17 Mar 2008
By 
Stephen B. Peddie (Surrey, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Good Night and Good Luck [DVD] (DVD)
Skilfully crafted and thought provoking. Small in scale and tightly made, but all the better for it. I don't think the hi-def versions at twice the price would add anything over the standard, very crisp black and white picture. If you're not familiar with the antics of Senator Joseph McCarthy then brief yourself beforehand because you will miss much of the context of the film. If you like 50s jazz then you'll also appreciate the soundtrack, a nice bonus.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly Pro-American because Critical !, 26 Feb 2006
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This review is from: Good Night and Good Luck [DVD] (DVD)
A brilliant American film for the 21st century. One more film on McCarthy, you might say. Yes indeed. But this one is different. Different because it is in black and white and it is a real smoking factory : politically correctness is forbidden. Different because it is not about the cinema but essentially about television, CBS. The real fourth power of the media : the power of journalism reinforced by the power of images. This television produces news programs that become the 21st century gospels. This power is absolutely enormous. And yet it is not CBS that brings McCarthy down, nor Murrow. It is McCarthy himself who brings himself down when he decides to react to Murrow on television and rebut him. In other words he falls in the trap laid in front of him and is unable to cope with this medium : he appears like what he is, a bigot, and he attacks someone who is beyond doubt in the wide public, a gospel writer as I have already said. Then McCarthy is doomed. This film hence shows something most people ignore on the old continent as well as on the new continent. The USA, like any human society, contains both good and evil because good cannot exist without evil and vice versa. But the USA, like any human society founded on the belief that individuals have rights and are fundamentally free as individuals and as citizens, will contain evil by its own efforts because good is necessarily stronger, even if at times it takes a few years to get around an obstacle and get into a dominant position. It is true some damage may have been caused during the period when evil had the upper hand, but good will push that evil down and aside sooner or later. Unluckily in such a society evil will find its way back up one day and will have to be pushed down again. But that is democracy and to believe that good, provided we all agree on what good is, can triumph once and for all is just as narrow-minded as the belief that communism had triumphed in 1917 once and for all. History has proved how wrong such a wiew was.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, Université Paris Dauphine, Université Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not great, 4 Aug 2006
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This review is from: Good Night and Good Luck [DVD] (DVD)
It's not a bad film. Considering this is only Clooney's 2nd outing as a director, I think it's a very mature effort. The black and white photography is done well, and the decision not to have an actor to play Senator McCarthy - and just show newsreel of him - is also a very good decision. And the message is important, particularly today. The parallels between current American policy in the War on Terror (particularly in the Iraq War lead-up) and the Red-Baiting, anti-communist wave of hysteria that swept America in the late 50's is unmistakeable. This is as much a critique of lazy journalism then as it is today. Edward Murrow casts a long shadow.

Somehow though, the film just lacks punch, and dramatic focus. There is no obvious crisis point in the film, and the confrontation between Murrow and McCarthy is so underplayed that you fail to notice at the time that this is the climax of the film. The point at which Murrow looks like he is actually in real trouble comes almost at the end of the film, so when the film stops about two minutes later, you end thinking that there should be another half hour of film in which we see Murrow overcome adversity and triumph, etc. The film is also set in a film studio, with about two scenes shot outside it. The problem this creates is that the menace of McCarthy has to be largely in your own head, because it's threat is never carried across in the film, beyond two Air Force Colonels who appear close at the start, criticising the editorial of one of Murrow's shows. Perhaps some outside shots would have helped carry over the Redbaiting wave of madness at the time. With the whole thing set in a studio, it feels to clinical and detached.

The problem I had watching this film is that I couldn't help but compare it to two similar films, the Insider by Michael Mann and Network by Sidney Lumet. Network is a far better critique of the dangers of dumbing-down in the media - and also manages to be tongue in cheek. Mann's Insider is a beautifully told story of one man's struggle against a soulless, corporate machine.

But nonetheless, Good Night and Good Luck is still worth a watch.
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Good Night and Good Luck [DVD]
Good Night and Good Luck [DVD] by George Clooney (DVD - 2007)
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