Good Night, and Good Luck
|Good Night, and Good Luck.|
US theatrical poster
|Directed by||George Clooney|
|Produced by||Grant Heslov|
|Editing by||Stephen Mirrione|
|Distributed by||WIP (US)
Redbus Film Distr. (UK
|Running time||93 minutes|
|Box office||$56.5 million|
Good Night, and Good Luck. is a 2005 American drama film co-written and directed by George Clooney and starring David Strathairn, Clooney, Robert Downey, Jr., Patricia Clarkson and Jeff Daniels. The movie was written by Clooney and Grant Heslov, both of whom also act in the film, and portrays the conflict between veteran radio and television journalist Edward R. Murrow and U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, especially relating to the anti-Communist Senator's actions with the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
The movie, although released in black and white, was filmed on color film stock but on a greyscale set, and was color corrected to black and white during post-production. It focuses on the theme of media responsibility, and also addresses what occurs when the media offer a voice of dissent from government policy. The movie takes its title (which ends with a period or full stop) from the line with which Murrow routinely signed off his broadcasts.
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Good Night, and Good Luck. is set in 1953, during the early days of television broadcast journalism. Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) and his dedicated staff—headed by his co-producer Fred Friendly (George Clooney) and reporter Joseph Wershba (Robert Downey, Jr.) in the CBS newsroom—defy corporate and sponsorship pressures, and discredit the tactics used by Joseph McCarthy during his crusade to root out Communist elements within the government.
The film is framed by performance of the speech given by Murrow to the Radio and Television News Directors Association in 1958, in which Murrow harshly admonishes his audience not to squander the potential of television to inform and educate the public.
Joe and Shirly Wirshba (Robert Downey Jr. and Patricia Clarkson), who are secretly married, due to a CBS policy that employees can't be married, discuss whether to sign a document asking if they have ever been labelled a subversive. If they don't sign they'll be fired.
Radulovich is a lieutenant in the Air Force reserves who is facing being removed from the U.S. Air Force due to regulation 35-62 that states a man may be labelled as a security risk if he has close and continuing association with communists or people believed to have communist sympathies. This is because of his sister's political leanings and because his father is subscribed to a Serbian newspaper. Radulovich was asked to resign the Air Force but declined. A board was then formed that recommended Radulovich be fired from the Air Force, the notes of which are sealed. Murrow states he believes the military should be more open about it’s procedures to protect the rights of individuals.
Murrow staff reporter Joseph Wershba is then approached by Don Surine, a former FBI agent on McCarthy's staff, who suggests that Murrow had been on the Soviet payroll two decades earlier.
Bill Paley, (Frank Langella), chief executive of CBS, tells Murrow to drop the anti-McCarthy stories, saying “We don’t make the news, we report the news”. He also says he’s angry Murrow hadn’t let him know about the episode before he aired it.
Murrow decides to move ahead with an episode attacking McCarthy directly. Beforehand he checks with his staff to make sure they aren't hiding any leftist connections that could be used by McCarthy when he inevitably attacks Murrow after the episode. One of the staff asks to be let go, because his ex-wife once attended meetings, before they were married.
They begin the anti-Mccarthy episode by stating it’s thesis: “If this fight against Communism is made a fight between America's two great political parties, the American people know that one of these parties will be destroyed, and the Republic cannot endure very long as a one party system.” Then Murrow reveals that the statement was made by none other than Senator McCarthy seventeen months prior. The program goes on to condemn McCarthy’s interrogations.
After the program they find out Radulovich has been reinstated, which leads to many congratulations. Then they find out that McCarthy wants to come on the show.
Don Hollenbeck meets with Ed and again asks him to do something about O’Brian. Ed tells Don to just not read the papers, “or O’Brian anyway”.
We then see historical footage of the senate subcommittee interrogation of Annie Lee Moss which leads to verbal sparing brewing between Karl Mundt and Roy Cohn. Cohn rebukes Mundt for alluding to evidence he was not actually presenting.
A very public feud develops when McCarthy responds by accusing Murrow of being a communist. Murrow is accused of having been a member of the leftist union Industrial Workers of the World. Edward R Murrow airs a rebuttal in his next program. He argues that since McCarthy hadn’t actually addressed Murrow’s previous program, but had rather made an ad hominem attack accusing Edward R Murrow of being a communist, that that McCarthy hadn’t disputed any of the facts in the previous program. Murrow then denies McCarthy's accusations against Murrow personality, saying these sorts of attacks are McCarthy's modus operandi.
After this episode airs, Murrow and his staff are elated to learn the senate is investigating McCarthy. Soon the mood is crushed by the news that has Don Hollenbeck committed suicide.
Shirley and Joe Wershba, who have been hiding their marriage, get called into Sig Mickelson, Director of CBS News’s office. He reminds them of the policy that no two employees at CBS can be married. He lets them know that he knows, and everyone knows, that they’re married. He asks them to think about one of them resigning and says they could save someone else getting laid off in upcoming layoffs.
Murrow gets called into Paley's office, who lets them know that Alcoa has pulled their sponsorship.
Paley moves his show to Sunday afternoons and makes it an hour-long program. Murrow says, why don’t you just fire me.
We see the end of Murrow’s speech from the beginning of the movie.
He argues that television should be used to educate and not just entertain. Otherwise, it’s “just wires in a box”.
- David Strathairn as Edward R. Murrow, journalist and host of the CBS television program See It Now
- George Clooney as Fred W. Friendly, coproducer with Murrow of See It Now
- Robert Downey, Jr. as Joseph Wershba, writer, editor, and correspondent for CBS News
- Patricia Clarkson as Shirley Wershba
- Frank Langella as William Paley, chief executive of CBS
- Jeff Daniels as Sig Mickelson, Director of CBS News
- Tate Donovan as Jesse Zousmer
- Ray Wise as Don Hollenbeck, journalist for CBS News; accused in the press of being a "pinko".
- Alex Borstein as Natalie
- Thomas McCarthy as Palmer Williams
- Rose Abdoo as Mili Lerner
- Reed Diamond as John Aaron
- Matt Ross as Eddie Scott
- Grant Heslov as Don Hewitt, director of See It Now
- Joseph McCarthy (archive footage) as Himself
- Liberace (archive footage) as Himself
- Roy Cohn (archive footage) as Himself
In September 2005, Clooney explained his interest in the story to an audience at the New York Film Festival: "I thought it was a good time to raise the idea of using fear to stifle political debate." Having majored in journalism in college, Clooney was well-versed in the subject matter. His father, Nick Clooney, was a television journalist for many years, appearing as an anchorman in Cincinnati, Ohio, Salt Lake City, Utah, Los Angeles, California, and Buffalo, New York. The elder Clooney also ran for Congress in 2004.
George Clooney was paid $1 each for writing, directing, and acting in Good Night, and Good Luck., which cost $7.5 million to make. Due to an injury he received on the set of Syriana a few months earlier, Clooney couldn't pass the tests to be insured. He then mortgaged his own house in Los Angeles in order to make the film. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and former eBay president Jeff Skoll invested money in the project as executive producers. The film ultimately grossed more than $54m worldwide.
The CBS offices and studios seen in the movie were all sets on a soundstage. To accomplish a pair of scenes showing characters going up an elevator, different "floors" of the building were laid out on the same level. The "elevator" was actually built on a large turntable at the intersection of the two floor sets, and rotated once the doors were closed. When the doors reopened, the actors appeared to be in a different location. In doing so, the movie exercised a bit of dramatic license--the CBS executive offices at the time were located at 485 Madison Avenue. CBS News was located in an office building just north of Grand Central Terminal (demolished and now the site of the Met Life Building); and the See It Now studio was located in Grand Central Terminal itself, above the waiting room. For dramatic effect, all three areas were depicted as being in the same building.
Clooney and producer Grant Heslov decided to use only archival footage of Joseph McCarthy in his depiction. As all of that footage was black-and-white, that determined the color scheme of the film. A young Robert Kennedy is also shown in the movie during McCarthy's hearing sessions. He was then a staff member on the Senate subcommittee chaired by McCarthy.
A small jazz combo starring jazz singer Dianne Reeves was hired to record the soundtrack to the movie. This combo (Peter Martin, Christoph Luty, Jeff Hamilton and Matt Catingub) was featured in the movie in several scenes; for example, in one scene the newsmen pass a studio where she is recording with the rest of the band. The CD is Dianne Reeves's second featuring jazz standards (including "How High the Moon", "I've Got My Eyes on You", "Too Close For Comfort", "Straighten Up and Fly Right" and "One for My Baby"), and it won the Grammy Award in 2005 for Best Jazz Vocal Album.
The soundtrack to Good Night, and Good Luck was released on September 27, 2005.
|1.||"Straighten Up and Fly Right"||Dianne Reeves||2:44|
|2.||"I've Got My Eyes on You"||Dianne Reeves||2:06|
|3.||"Gotta Be This or That"||Dianne Reeves||3:16|
|4.||"Too Close for Comfort"||Dianne Reeves||3:50|
|5.||"How High the Moon"||Dianne Reeves||2:22|
|6.||"Who's Minding the Store?"||Dianne Reeves||4:31|
|7.||"You're Driving Me Crazy"||Dianne Reeves||1:57|
|10.||"TV Is the Thing This Year"||Dianne Reeves||1:43|
|11.||"Pick Yourself Up"||Dianne Reeves||2:38|
|12.||"When I Fall in Love"||Dianne Reeves||3:52|
|13.||"Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall"||Dianne Reeves||4:08|
|14.||"There'll Be Another Spring"||Dianne Reeves||4:43|
|15.||"One for My Baby"||Dianne Reeves||3:50|
The film was critically acclaimed upon release. It was named "Best Reviewed Film of 2005 in Limited Release" by Rotten Tomatoes, where it achieved a 93% positive review rating. The movie received six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Director (Clooney), and Actor (Strathairn).
Libertarian Jack Shafer, a columnist for the online magazine Slate, accused the film of continuing what he characterizes as the hagiography of Murrow. Roger Ebert, in his Chicago Sun-Times review, contends that "the movie is not really about the abuses of McCarthy, but about the process by which Murrow and his team eventually brought about his downfall (some would say his self-destruction). It is like a morality play, from which we learn how journalists should behave. It shows Murrow as fearless, but not flawless."
Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton from the ABC show At The Movies each gave the film five stars, making Good Night, and Good Luck the only other film besides Brokeback Mountain to receive such a score from the hosts in 2005. Both described the film as "beautiful" but also praised Clooney for the film's importance. Margret commented that "[The film] is so important, because it's about things that are really vital today, like the responsibility of the press and examining the press' role in forming opinion." David noted "Though [the film] is in black-and-white, there's nothing monochromatic about Clooney's passion for his subject or the importance of his message."
One complaint about the film among test audiences was their belief that the actor playing McCarthy was too over the top, not realizing that the film used actual archive footage of McCarthy himself.
Awards and nominations
- The Numbers: Good Night and Good Luck. Linked 2013-08-12
- Edward R. Murrow Speech, 1958 (excerpts), Radio Television Digital News Association RTNDA.org
- Brooks, Brian. IndieWire, "Clooney Speaks Out About Journalism and Filmmaking As NYFF Opens." Retrieved: April 24, 2007.
- Friedman, Roger. Fox News.com, "Clooney Bets House on New Film," September 27, 2005. Retrieved: December 30, 2007.
- "Broadcasting Yearbook 1952", page 448
- Kuralt, Charles, "A Life On The Road", 1991
- Brooks, Brian. IndieWire, ibid.
- Good Night, and Good Luck Soundtrack AllMusic. Retrieved February 27, 2014
- Shafer, Jack. Slate.com., "Edward R. Movie—Good Night, and Good Luck and bad history." Retrieved: March 1, 2006.
- Ebert, Roger. Chicago Sun-Times, film review, "Good Night, and Good Luck." Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved: April 23, 2007.
- "Movie reviews, 2005". ABC: At the Movies. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
- "Good Night, and Good Luck (review)". ABC: At the Movies. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
- "When television took a stand", Telegraph, October 5, 2005
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Good Night, and Good Luck.|
- Official website
- Good Night, and Good Luck at the Internet Movie Database
- Good Night, and Good Luck at allmovie
- Good Night, and Good Luck at Box Office Mojo
- Good Night, and Good Luck at Rotten Tomatoes