Good Night, and Good Luck: Opinions About the Movie
According to Peer-Reviewed Articles on the Movie:
Terry Teachout of Commentary in December 2005 writes that Good Night and Good Luck overlooks some of the inherent moral ambiguities of real life journalism. Teachout feels the movie “was beautifully shot in black and white” and “duplicates with uncanny exactitude the on- and off-air appearance of See It Now, the CBS news program that Murrow hosted an co-produced between 1951 and 1957 in collaboration with Fred Friendly.” The film deals with an episode in history in 1954 where Murrow and Friendly devote three episodes of See It Now to various aspects of the Communist hunt led by the Wisconsin Senator, Joseph McCarthy. What was remarkable of the show was not that Murrow spoke out against McCarthy, who had already been attacked by other journalist, but that he used See It Now to criticize him because CBS had a long-standing policy not to editorialize on the air. The film itself does no portray Murrow’s actions as inappropriate, but as an act of high political courage. Murrow’s doubt goes unremarked in the film, as well as the fact that the Communist hunt existed because there were Communists. The film leads audiences to believe that the Communist hunt was just a fantasy of McCarthy and his supporters. Teachout writes that Clooney does not acknowledge many discrepancies in the story he tries to tell
Ron Briley and Robert Toplin of Journal of American History writes that the movie, Good Night, and Good Luck, the film evokes the mood of the 1950s with the cigarette smoking, the small closed in newsrooms, filming the movie in black and white (which allows real footage of McCarthy to be used in the film), and the classic jazz soundtrack. Briley and Toplin remark that the movie begins with Edward Murrow’s speech in 1958 at a network tribute. Murrow then reminisces about his confrontation with McCarthy, which began with the Army case of Milo Radulovic, who was forced out of the Army because of his family’s politics. Proclaiming that this action was based on unsubstantial evidence, on March 9, 1954 Murrow denounced McCarthy on his show, See It Now. McCarthy then replies about a month later by television, which was how this confrontation was actually conducted in 1954. Briley and Toplin find that there are several subplots in the movie with mixed success, such as the file footage of Murrow on the Person to Person show where Murrow insisted he hosted only to pay bills and the suicide case which showed how McCarthyism destroyed people. Although, the story of Joe and Shirley Wershba, who are fired from the studio from disregarding the no-married couples allowed working here together possible, distracts from the film. In their closing statement about Good Night, and Good Luck Briley and Toplin comment that the movie “is open to charges of presentism, but in the final analysis Clooney is a serious filmmaker seeking to use the past to illuminate the present.”
Bernard Beck of Multicultural Perspectives writes in 2006 that Good Night, and Good Luck gives the story of real events. He comments that every detail of the movie evokes the time of the event: the black and white shooting of the film and Murrow’s chain smoking. Murrow can be liken to the Western movie heroes, but without the endearing touches expected of those characters. The movie sends the message about how precious our free institutions are and how we have to work hard in order to keep them. Bernard also mentioned that the story behind the film is a cultural relic, and when there is a rich cultural history people may use it for wisdom to use in the present.
According to Non-Peer Review Articles on the Movie:
November 2005, William Townsend wrote in Entertainment Review that gives a breathtaking performance, but there are enough flaws in Good Night, and Good Luck to give it a B+. George Clooney directed the film as if it were a Television show jumping from scene to scene like shows often do after commercials. Townsend feels the wrong man was cast for the charismatic Fred Friendly, who was also a great journalist. There are three downfalls in this film, according to Townsend, and two of them would have been easy fixes. The first is the jazz song chose by Clooney sung by Diana Reeves was not played in the 1950s; the second is that Clooney should have printed up a paragraph about the outcome of Murrow and McCarthy before the credits, and the third complaint is the film is only 90 minutes long. Townsend feels that this moment in history deserves much more than what Clooney gave it in the film. He hopes that the success of the film leads to another film or television show that fully explores the entire life of the father of modern broadcasting, Edward R. Murrow.
In the winter of 2005, Thomas Doherty of Cineaste writes that Good Night, and Good Luck is an earnest docudrama that tells the story of Edward Murrow against Joseph McCarthy. The film was shot in black and white in Studio 41, the fabled studio where See It Now was actually telecasts on Tuesday evenings. The good music and bad habits of the film are interrupted by Murrow’s 1958 speech before the Radio and Television News Director Association in Chicago. Joe Friendly, Murrow’s friend, has to conceal his marriage to Shirley Wershba because of CBS policies, where Shirley is eventually fired because of the marriage. The most indictable offense in the film is the failure to note the extra-CBS realities that contributed to the eventual defeat of McCarthy.
According to Newspaper Sources on the Movie:
Jack Mathews for Daily News in New York on October 10, 2005 writes that Good Night, and Good Luck is one of the best movies ever about the news media. Instead of having an actor play Joseph McCarthy, Clooney chose to use real archival footage of McCarthy bullying witnesses in Senate hearings and replying to Murrow’s accusations on See It Now. Clips of McCarthy and others are seamlessly blended into Clooney’s film with his decision of shooting the film in black and white.
Ann Beveridge of The Daily Telegraph in Sydney on December 15, 2005 writes that Edward R. Murrow has been immortalized in the film Good Night, and Good Luck. She claims that Murrow is perhaps responsible for the birth of modern journalism, who was renowned for his belief in free and uncensored media.
Terry Teachout, “Journalism, Hollywood-Style,” Commentary 120, no. 5 (December 2005):69, http://search.ebsohost.com/ (accessed October 30, 2008).