One of this years Oscar gems, Good Night, and Good Luck brings the world the inside story into one of the most intriguing media controversies in American history. It is the story of broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow and his producer, Fred Friendly. In the early 1950s senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin began his witch hunt to expose the roots of Communism that he believed existed in the United States. His tactics included the use of intimidation and loose interpretation of the law. His parade of anti-communist sentiment was successful in exploiting the fears of the American people until the day that CBS reporter Murrow (David Strathairn) and producer Friendly (George Clooney) decided to risk it all in order to bring light to the American people as to the undue prejudice that McCarthy was bringing on innocent Americans. What followed was one of the most explosive media controversies in history, and this is its story.
This plot of Good Night, and Good Luck takes us through the early days of the resistance to McCarthyism that is put up by Murrow on his CBS show. The story is a steadily paced homage to a very monumental time in the history of broadcast journalism. From the beginning of Murrow's journey of resistance to the most tense days of his battle with the over-the-top Senator from Wisconsin, this film exudes the calm, collected, and steadfast resolve embodied by its lead character. A smooth and moody soundtrack very expertly separates the key moments of dialogue in a way that gives the movie a very tasteful and classy rhythm.
Another mentionable success of this film is the visual presentation, a combination of visionary cinematography, alluring art direction, and a director's touch by George Clooney that is subtle yet effective in recreating the 1950s world of broadcasting which Murrow inhabited. Very often a director can misuse the black and white medium, but Clooney seems to not only make the black and white look of the film feel subtle, but it fits perfectly into his ability to set the mood of the era. For some reason the appearance of the film allows it to maintain a very serious and tense tone, which is important because it makes up for a slightly lethargic story.
The performance of David Strathairn in this flick completely overshadows the wonderfully talented and seasoned ensemble that supported him in his role as he portrayed the irreverent but uber-intelligent Murrow. George Clooney lends a solid helping hand as the timid but loyal producer Fred Friendly, who goes to bat for Murrow when he verbally assaults the scare tactics of McCarthy with very little support from the powers that were within the CBS family. Clooney brings to the film a certain sense of calm and a very personable demeanor in Friendly. Very often it is difficult for the audience to analyze and understand the eccentricities of Murrow's mind, but Friendly adds the more simple humanized approach to the fight against what is happening in the political arena.