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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 28.3%
Just Average: 3.77%
Pretty Crappy: 2.83%
Sucks: 8.49%

10 reviews, 46 user ratings

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Good Night, and Good Luck.
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by WilliamPrice

"It’s a fucking cigarette ad!"
1 stars

This is ostensibly a dramatization of events in the CBS newsroom during the McCarthy era, but beyond the basic scenario, it has no substance. The unembroidered depiction of Edward R. Murrow and company makes no attempt to explore these characters in any depth or offer any fresh insight that history does not already provide. The mode and means of their assault on Senator McCarthy is presented accurately, but the thematic issues raised, such as the struggle for journalistic integrity, is not expanded one inch beyond the factual limits of the case. The way that personalities shaped events or events shaped personalities is not investigated in the slightest. This is an unaccountably small affair, taking a free ride on the coattails of the memorable but 50 year old victory against the corrupt junior Senator from Wisconsin. With nothing new to say about anything, the film just sits there. And smokes like a chimney.

Yes, there’s ciggies. Everyone in the newsroom smokes. There’s dialogue about ciggies and a TV ad for ciggies presented in its entirety. When the going gets tough, the tough light up a ciggie. Or more likely, take a showy “pensive drag” on the ciggie they’ve already got burning. If we consider the hypothesis that someone decided to make a feature length advertisement for ciggies, Edward R. Murrow, who smoked ciggies on camera, would make an excellent choice for the hero.

Ciggies are the one thematic issue getting any quality time in this otherwise mechanical reenactment. The notion that you deal with stress by smoking a ciggie is hammered home repeatedly. What reward does long-suffering Edward R. Murrow get for all his noble self-sacrifice? He gets to smoke, smoke smoke a ciggie. Oh, and drink “Scotch”. “Scotch” is prominently referred to by the name “Scotch” at critical intervals. Hmm.

It wouldn’t be fair to say that Good Night and Good Luck is poorly made. Shot in glorious black and white and avoiding artificial theatricality, the film allows us to take up permanent residence in a bustling television newsroom of the 50s. Events unfold in a realistic manner before our very eyes. The storytelling adroitly maintains the documentary feel, while finding subtle ways to advance and clarify the action and effectively punctuate dramatic moments.

Everyone in the stellar cast manages to evoke the gritty mindset of the era. They speak in dry, clipped tones and steer clear of all things frivolous, but at the same time their interrelationships possess a quiet warmth and dignity. The dialogue is handled cleverly. Often, multiple conversations are happening simultaneously, overlapping and weaving in and out. It can be a bit hard to follow at times, but this just adds to the aura of realism.

However, although the story is well told, the telling lacks purpose. Murrow’s on screen monologues, which provide the film’s backbone, are faithfully reenacted by David Strathairn. So what? The kinescopes of Murrow’s original broadcasts are of greater historical interest and equally dramatic. The power of old recordings from the era is nowhere more evident than the footage of McCarthy himself, which appears here intercut with Strathain’s performance. But any decent documentary on McCarthy will give you far more of this compelling material, and less distractions.

The rest of the film covers little ground. Various issues are glimpsed, such as the stress of putting together a live news broadcast, the fuzzy line been unbiased reporting and editorializing, the opposing concepts of TV fare as light entertainment verses serious journalism and the intimidation of the press in an era of extreme anti-communism. But these concerns emerge simply because they are part of the story being told. The film has no intention of investigating these issues any further or offering any illumination beyond that which the mere facts provide.

Cigarettes cause lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and may complicate pregnancy. That’s why it’s been forbidden to advertise them on television in the USA since 1971. But it’s a billion dollar industry. Money talks, and the tobacco companies find ways to promote their product.

“Good Night and Good Luck” has nothing to say about its characters or the issues raised by the factual story it presents. It’s an effective but pointless reenactment of history. There must have been some reason for making this cigarette-filled movie. Hmm.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=13156&reviewer=407
originally posted: 10/07/05 13:40:31
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User Comments

10/21/20 Louise (the real one) Looks stylish, but boring and completely forgettable. 2 stars
9/12/09 Jeff Wilder Great historical docudrama 5 stars
1/15/09 Shaun Wallner Awesome Story! 5 stars
7/29/08 mr.mike It was very well done.4.5 stars. 4 stars
5/18/08 davikariout great presentation 5 stars
3/21/08 Pamela White great chronicle of a man's life 4 stars
10/14/07 fools♫gold well-done and thoughtful 5 stars
6/05/07 gr117 Excellent! 5 stars
4/08/07 Rosie i thought it needed more context. events happened too fast MORE CONTEXT!!!! 2 stars
11/13/06 AJ Muller Means now what it meant then; don't let fear force lies into being the accepted truth. 5 stars
8/16/06 Mary Beth hard to follow; guess I didn't get it 3 stars
8/12/06 R.W.Welch No Hollywood hokum here. Straight stuff docudrama. 4 stars
6/15/06 Billy father, father 2 stars
5/09/06 Craig Call Very well done! 4 stars
5/08/06 Captain Craig Now you know what happened to TV and why! 4 stars
4/24/06 millersxing Powerfully exhibits an attention to detail and a trained focus of the historian's gaze. 5 stars
4/06/06 Quigley one of the most patriotic movies I've seen in a while. strathairn was amazing 5 stars
4/04/06 Annie G I felt like I was watching part 2 of a documentary-when did they introduce the characters? 3 stars
4/03/06 Josh Standlee Sorry, people. It had a great cast, but it ended too quickly. 1 stars
4/01/06 Phil M. Aficionado Precise but not as rich in context as I had hoped; didn't show Murrow as a human w/ family 4 stars
3/29/06 sbpat21 a marvelous film 5 stars
3/17/06 MP Bartley Too insular, but a gripping and intelligent character study. Superb acting helps. 4 stars
3/12/06 Roderick Cromar This is great! A movie for adults! With brains! 5 stars
3/07/06 Piz Straight-forward if not boring account of McCarthy vs Cronkite. Well done but very overated 3 stars
2/26/06 Monday Morning Extremely antiseptic -- smart but NO emotion, just speeches. 4 stars
2/21/06 malcolm brilliant. way more exciting than 'aliens versus predator.' 4 stars
2/13/06 John Senational piece of work - riveting, exiting and alas relevant 5 stars
2/13/06 Jin Horribly one-sided and impotent. McCarthy's work was taken way out of context. 1 stars
2/12/06 KCobain Boring, dull, and wishes it was All The Presidents Men with its abrubt ending to nothing. 1 stars
2/12/06 helen bradley Interesting, relevant, David Strathairn’s portrayal of Murrow brilliant 4 stars
1/03/06 john bale Tour de force by David Strathairn in a finely crafted and credible film. 5 stars
12/30/05 Agent Sands Perfectly handled and realized by one of the greatest & most underrated talents in a decade 5 stars
12/23/05 Green Gremlin :We have nothing to fear but fear itself" - FDR 5 stars
12/17/05 ownerofdajoint The early days of corporate media control over the bewildered herd are well depicted here 5 stars
11/18/05 M.F. superb 5 stars
11/17/05 Robert Braunfeld Caprures a time that seems to be lost but not forgotten 5 stars
11/15/05 Richard Maratea The dramatic scences should not have been filmed in B&W. Major flaw. 4 stars
11/14/05 Taylor Fladgate Oscar Oscar Oscar - take that, Bushie! 5 stars
11/12/05 Titus This was gorgeous, pertinent, and brilliantly executed. Best picture of the year, for sure 5 stars
11/11/05 Ionicera flawed but ambitious and relevent 4 stars
11/05/05 jcjs schizoid J. McCarthy's Hitlerian contamination of freedom exposed by E.R. Murrow, truth 5 stars
11/03/05 baseball-nut Not bad but Clooney can still do better! 3 stars
10/24/05 Suzz perfection in directing, acting, writing and scoring 5 stars
10/22/05 Agent Sands Smart and exquisite filmmaking from one of the greatest actor-turned-directors EVER. 5 stars
10/18/05 the untrained eye proving that "Confessions..." was no fluke 5 stars
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  07-Oct-2005 (PG)
  DVD: 14-Mar-2006



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