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Movie Review: Good Night and Good Luck

Alternate Title: See it Then, See it Now

Story: Everything is right about this film. It works on all levels. It is entertaining, thought provoking, intelligent, well casted, compelling and good to look at thanks to cinematographer, Robert Elswit. The film is shot in black and white and it works marvellously.One stroke of genius was the choice of using file footage of Senator McCarthy himself instead of an actor. Powerful stuff!

George Clooney is both director and co-writer with Grant Heslov (both appear in the film). It is based on the real life events of the 1950's when Senator Joseph McCarthy's Communist witch hunts had this country in a state of paranoia, black listing and naming of names. You were either with the Jr. Senator from Wisconsin or you were seen as a traitor and/or a Communist. Lives and reputations were ruined. CBS broadcaster, Edward R. Murrow wanted to change all that.

It was the infancy days of television. Newscasters and reporters really were writers and researchers not the pretty talking heads who fill our screens today. It was also the days when the news departments were not a part of the entertainment division of the networks (although we can see how Murrow had to compromise with some soft interview shows in order to get his hard news stories produced.

If you care at all about where we have been, who we are, how we got to the state of broadcast journalism, this is a must-see film. Not only is it an important film it is very entertaining. Go, you'll feel better about yourself in the morning.

Acting: A brilliant stroke of casting with David Strathairn as Murrow. He captures his cadence and demeanor and I felt as if I was actually watching Murrow. I have seen Strathairn on the subway several times. Let me tell you that he is the type of guy who gives his seat up to those who need one (and he is darn good looking in person). George Clooney as Fred Friendly and Frank Langella as William Paley are top of the line. The rest of the cast, including Jeff Daniels, Robert Downey, Jr and Patricia Clarkson are stellar.

Predilection: I am a news junkie and am deeply involved with all things political.

Food: No food but lots of booze and tons of cigarettes (Murrow eventually died of lung cancer).

Soundtrack: A wonderful jazzy track.

Theater Audience: We were in the secret balcony of my local cineplex. A few others have found this secret balcony. I am not sure how many were downstairs.

Squirm Scale: I squirmed at how the events of 50 years ago seem very much like the events of today.

Predictability Level: Even thought I knew everything that was going to happen I still was a bit tense.

Drift Factor: Did not drift for a second.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: Absolutely. I think David Strathairn should get a nod and perhaps a nod for original screenplay.

Soap Box: There is much similarity about the political tenor of our times compared to the 1950's. But our news media have caved to the pressures of corporations who own them and the constant fear of lack of access to the powers that be. There are also many more outlets now for people to disengage from the public debate then there were fifty years ago. Murrow's last lines address just this very predicament. He is probably turning over in his grave (he is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn).

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure. And for some TV moments of Murrow's show you can go to the very wonderful Museum of Television and Radio in NYC or on Los Angeles. Some of David Strathairn's other films for you to rent are: Missing in America, Harrison's Flowers, A Map of the World, Limbo, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Simon Birch, With Friends Like These..,L.A. Confidential, Mother Night, Dolores Claiborne, Losing Isaiah, The River Wild, The Firm, Lost in Yonkers, Passion Fish, Sneakers, Bob Roberts, A League of Their Own, City of Hope, Memphis Belle, Eight Men Out, Dominick and Eugene, Matewan, At Close Range, Silkwood and Return of the Secaucus 7.

Length: 90 minutes