Directed by George Clooney
Written by George Clooney and Grant Heslov
Good Night and Good Luck is a strange film. If you enjoy it enough that it inspires you to learn more about the story’s events, your research will ultimately diminish your pleasure. Although the events are accurate, the context in which they happened isn’t always, resulting in a decrease of the story’s power and the characters’ nobility.
The film is a docudrama that takes place over five months from late 1953 and into ’54 during the early days of television when CBS newsman Edward R Murrow and his staff of the documentary news program See It Now challenged the actions and statements of Senator Joseph McCarthy, who was scouring the country for communists.
McCarthy, who plays himself through newsreels and kinescopes, was out of control and damaged a lot of lives with his hearings. One such man who got caught up in the maelstrom is U.S. Navy pilot Lt. Mil Radulovich, who is kicked out of the Navy because he is deemed a security risk based on some things his father and sister may have or have not done. The uncertainty stems from the fact that he is declared guilty without a trial and all the evidence is sealed. Although his bosses at CBS make clear their unease, Murrow tells the story of Radulovich on Oct. 20, 1953. This prompts a response that Murrow will be outed as a communist sympathizer if this type of reporting continues.
The threat brings Murrow and his team out swinging. With the okay from CBS boss William Paley, they put together “A Report on Joseph R. McCarthy” that airs on March 9, 1954, filled with sound bites and visuals of McCarthy in his own words that exposes him to the nation. McCarthy is offered an opportunity to come on the program and respond to any and all charges. Radulovich becomes mysteriously reinstated. Murrow is vindicated and driven to keep going.
The March 16, 1954 edition, "Senator McCarthy Against Annie Lee Moss," focuses on the hearing of an elderly black woman who works in the Pentagon code room. She is very frail and has no idea what she’s doing there. McCarthy leaves the hearing early and places it in the charge of his counsel Roy Cohn, who takes the brunt of senators’ attacks when they demand to see proof of the charges other than gossip and rumor.