Good Night and Good Luck

While not necessarily entertaining, the film Good Night and Good Luck offers a history lesson in investigative journalism and McCarthyism. One of the main points of the movie is journalists vs the government, and journalists being the watchdog they should be. Reporter Ed Murrow and CBS co-producer Fred Friendly fear the possible consequences of challenging the witch hunts led by Republican Senator McCarthy. McCarthy’s method of investigation was, quite frankly, horrible in that he did not have evidence in his accusations of certain American government workers being a member of the Communist Party. The irresponsible and accusatory actions that derived from hearsay and misinformation came to be known as ‘McCarthyism’. With integrity, Ed Murrow delivered the news and established trust with his audience. In having the public on his side, his broadcasts, which rebuked McCarthy, lead to a nationwide disapproval of the Senator.

In relation to today, journalists have outed, through mass media, the unsettling actions of the government, including the National Security Agency’s program that intrudes on every individual’s privacy. I took time out to watch Citizen Four, where former NSA and CIA employee found that the NSA was impeding on the rights of the American people without their consent. Snowden sought out journalists to pass the information to, which was a brave move, and the journalists were brave as well to get directly involved with Snowden. Director Laura Poitras and investigative journalists, such as Glenn Greenwald feared the repercussions of their direct involvement with Snowden and reporting the sensitive information. But they felt it needed to be done. They felt the people should be warned of their rights being infringed upon.

Another thing I thought was good about the movie was how it incorporated the clips of the real Senator McCarthy instead of having an actor play his role, and it flowed rather seamlessly. Although not related to the main focus of the movie, I thought the overall casting was pretty good and the married/co-worker relationship between Joseph and Shirley Wershba was a nice touch. When they were told that one of them would have to leave their career due to the network’s regulation against married couples working in the same job, both took it rather well. Their near flawless communication with each other, and their closeness was nice to see (are my shipping tendencies showing?). And yes, I do not care much for viewing movies and television in black and white, but it brings some sort of authenticity, as if I were a viewer in the 1950’s. It was actually pretty clever of the director and actor George Clooney to film this way, which was clearly both an artistic choice and a financial one, apparently.

Again, it was not at all an entertaining movie for me, but he history behind the film is just interesting enough for me not to dislike it, therefore my initial response is more along the lines of “meh.” But it actually piqued my interest enough to read on the history of McCarthyism, and learning is always a plus.


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