The handsomest man in the world. A man's man. A good actor who sometimes directs.
Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005) -- Without David Strathairn's perfect performance as Edward R. Murrow, this movie would have been a somewhat elementary attempt at seriousness. Every scene he is in (and, luckily, he's in most of the movie) is engaging and gives the entire thing the gravity it desperately wants. George Clooney and co-writer Grant Heslov, however, have missed a huge opportunity to tell this story effectively. There's so much surrounding the McCarthy hearings and CBS News's attempt to bring the senator down that one would imagine this would have to be a three hour movie, but instead it's about an hour and a half. Long doesn't equal better, but the reason the movie is short is less from tightness and more from lack of ideas. For example, there's a lot of time spent on sub-plots that don't amount to much, such as the secret marriage between Robert Downey Jr. and Patricia Clarkson's counterparts. Even that could have easily been tied symbolically into the major themes, but it didn't. Clooney also lingers on the wallpaper that tries to prove the movie is "authentic" 1950s and 50s news: the fact that it's in black and white, those unique microphones and cameras, singers singing popular songs of the time, reporters drinking scotch... and it takes about half an hour for the story to really get started, and lots of that story is based on the unwise assumption that viewers will know what specifically was going on at the time. The film suffers from the "it's serious because it happened" notion, but doesn't take the time to adequately explore the huge political, emotional, and otherwise dramatic changes that were happening in America at the time. But again, Strathairn saves the day, and to a large extent so does Murrow himself, since the most powerful dialogue delivered was his actual broadcasts. The movie works best when it feels most like a documentary, using actual footage of the hearings, and one often wishes it were simply a documentary. Credit should also be given to Ray Wise who puts in a heartbreaking performance of what might have been another pointless sub-plot had he not created the character so effectively. In the end, in spite of its shortcomings, I enjoyed watching the movie and Clooney did a competent job of creating this story, just not an excellent one. If nothing else, it makes you long for the days when newsman was pronounced "newsmin." B
Copyright (c) Mar 2006 by Rusty Likes Movies