Monday, December 05, 2005

Good Night, Good Luck

Last night, I saw Good Night and Good Luck for the second time. And it was worth it. Here is a quick set up of the movie.

Movie of Importance:

Like many independent films try to be, "Good Night and Good Luck" is a movie of grave importance. Not only because it is George Clooney's directorial debut (after this movie he seems destined to direct more) but because it's the first movie about one of the greatest TV journalists of all time, Edward R. Murrow. This excellent film follows Murrow and his loyal staff, "Murrow's Boys," as they went after Sen. Joseph McCarthy for his unethical means of persecuting anyone suspected of being a communist.

The opening to the movie's home site pretty much says it.

If you are too young to remember, Edward R. Murrow is the most distinguished and renowned figure in the history of American broadcast journalism. He was a seminal force in the creation and development of electronic newsgathering as both a craft and a profession.

Murrow's career began at CBS in 1935 and spanned the infancy of news and public affairs programming on radio through the ascendancy of television in the 1950s, as it eventually became the nation's most popular news medium.

In 1961, Murrow left CBS to become director of the United States Information Agency for the new Kennedy administration. By that time, his peers were already referring to a "Murrow legend and tradition" of courage, integrity, social responsibility, and journalistic excellence, emblematic of the highest ideals of both broadcast news and the television industry in general.

Here are some of his most memorable quotes:

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices."

"When the politicians complain that TV turns the proceedings into a circus, it should be made clear that the circus was already there, and that TV has merely demonstrated that not all the performers are well trained. "

"Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices - just recognize them. "

And here are some of his best known broadcasts, including the piece in the opening of the movie trailer.

There is still a small plaque in the lobby of CBS headquarters in New York City which contains the image of Murrow and the inscription: "He set standards of excellence that remain unsurpassed."

It is uncanny how timely and appropriate this movie is, and I think Clooney gets an A plus for his efforts here.

He artfully and carefully shows with memorable characters and dialogue the great issues and tensions present today in broadcast and media in general. There is the conflict between William Paley and Murrow, representing the tension between ownership and the news room. There is the conflict of the content of the news show with its sponsor, in this case Alcoa. The movie even explores the conflict that we all have within ourselves as we wonder if we are doing the right thing.

As someone said to me this weekend, "If you don't have doubts about what you are doing, that there is a possibility that you may not be right, then you probably aren't."

Murrow had doubts.

But he also had courage.

And nothing is more encouraging.


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Blogger oZ said...

I made a few changes to this post for readability at around 11:00.

9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is a great movie. I recommend it highly. MS

9:30 AM  

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