Cindy and I went to see “Good Night, And Good Luck.” when it came out in 2005. At the time I thought that it was just an historical drama about the communist witch hunts led by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950’s, and the reaction of Edward R. Murrow of CBS news. It does a fine job on that level, focusing on a few incidents in a troubled time. But that is just the surface.
When I watched the movie on Saturday, I was struck again about how much the movie is something of a cautionary tale about the relationships between politics, the news media, and entertainment. In some respects the movie seems more enlightening and relevent today than it did ten years ago.
Many of my favorite actors are in the cast. George Clooney plays Fred Friendly, who was Murrow’s friend and co-producer of “See It Now”. Clooney also co-wrote and directed the movie.
David Straithairn plays Edward R. Murrow. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal. I had seen Straithairn in many roles in many movies but never caught his name until this movie. My second favorite role of his was as Erwin in “Sneakers.”
Pre-Iron Man Robert Downey, Jr. plays Joseph Wershba; Jeff Daniels plays Sig Mickelson; and Frank Langella (post Dracula and pre-Nixon) plays William Paley.
There are a lot of other familiar faces in the cast; and other historic figures, such as Senator McCarthy appear in archive footage. The movie is in black and white. Everything seems true to the time it is portraying. I am surprised that no one developed lung cancer from all of the cigarette smoking that goes on in the film.
There is one more reason I recommend this movie, and that is the music. Dianne Reeves and a small jazz combo did the sound track for the movie, and appear in a number of scenes. The soundtrack won a Grammy in 2006 for Best Jazz Vocal Album. If you don’t want to see the movie, at least listen to the music.