Directed by: George Clooney
Written by:George Clooney, Grant Heslov
Starring: David Strathairn, Robert Downey Jr, Patricia Clarkson, Ray Wise, Frank Langella, Jeff Daniels, George Clooney
Released: December 22, 2005
Grade: A

In the late 1940s, the FBI compiled a list of communists and communist sympathisers who were either working in or had very close ties to the U.S. Government.  No one would have cared before World War II but in its aftermath, people were suspicious of anyone who believed in a communist regime.

Congress was given the list but little was done.  Some say the lack of action was due to there being too many communist supporters in the upper echelon on government.  Senator Joseph McCarthy then took it upon himself to inform the American public.  McCarthy had the names of over 200 people who he believed had communist ties.  With growing public support, McCarthy became Chairman of the Senate’s Investigations Subcommittee and in 1953 he interrogated more than 500 witnesses.

Around the same time, the wonder of television was flourishing across the country.  A popular show on CBS was See It Now, hosted by Edward R. Murrow.  It was a late evening current affairs broadcast in a similar vein to today’s 60 Minutes.  In 1954, Murrow and his team of journalists put together a show on McCarthy and the dirty, misleading methods he was using to find the truth.

The public started to think twice about Senator McCarthy and when the press started jumping on the Murrow bandwagon, McCarthy found his popularity waning.  Even members of his own Republican Party were turning on him.  In late 1954, the Senate voted to condemn McCarthy for bringing the Senate into disrepute.  He died three years later. 

Good Night, And Good Luck brings this story to the screen through the eyes of Edward Murrow and his team at CBS.  Some might believe otherwise but I think it to be a fair depiction of events and a fascinating insight into the power of television.  This may have happened 50 years ago but the issues of the film are as relevant today as they were.

You’ll be surprised to see that no actor plays McCarthy – he actually plays himself.  All the footage of McCarthy has been taken from news archives.  It’s a brilliant idea by director George Clooney and it removes any criticism that McCarthy has not been portrayed justly.  We see the real McCarthy for who he is.  For this reasons, the film has been wisely shot in black and white.

David Strathairn (Limbo) plays Edward R. Murrow in a role which must see him nominated for an Academy Award.   His expressionless face and monotone voice are hypnotic.  The whole cast is terrific (including Jeff Bridges, George Clooney and Patricia Clarkson) but it’s Strathairn star who shines brightest.

Films such as The Corporation and Fahrenheit 9/11 have put America under the world’s microscope and Good Night, And Good Luck will only increase the debate about U.S. politics and its absolute power.  It’s a very powerful film and regardless of who you see it with, there’ll be plenty to discuss on the car ride home.