Saturday, January 07, 2006

Good Night, and Good Luck

2005, US, directed by George Clooney

Good Night, and Good Luck is a fine chamber piece, tightly focused on a specific aspect of the McCarthy era, namely the efforts of Edward R. Murrow (superbly played by David Strathairn) and his production team to cast the Communist witch-hunts of "the junior senator from Wisconsin's" in the harshest of lights. Murrow - through his CBS show See It Now - took McCarthy on towards the end of his reign, although at a time when the senator still retained his ability to smear reputations with no regard for the facts. The film, like Murrow's show, uses McCarthy to hang himself, choosing his more outré on-camera moments to maximize the unsympathetic portrait of this least sympathetic of American politicians (McCarthy's clear discomfort in front of the camera also helped to change, perhaps less positively, the rules for future elected representatives, with telegenic qualities often overriding experience). Clooney very successfully re-creates the sense of alarm so skilfully manipulated by McCarthy for a time - with a clear nod to contemporary American politics - as well as the claustrophobic atmosphere of the television studio (there are brief hints of unseen domesticity, while CBS founder William Paley is seen wandering into the empty studio late at night, as if he has no other life). The carefully re-created debates on how to approach the explosive McCarthy issue recall the smoky White House deliberations of Cuban-missile drama Thirteen Days; both films also boast fine ensemble casts. There's not an ounce of fat in the film, which makes its editorial points with considerable skill without ever overstaying its welcome, while the smooth black and white photography gives a surprising immediacy to the skilful 1950's re-creation.

1 comment:

Lesley said...

I loved everything about this movie. Especially the timing of its release.


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