PCR past banners
Now in our sixth calendar year!
PCR # 291  (Vol. 6, No. 42)  This edition is for the week of October 17--23, 2005.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Good Night And Good Luck"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Four stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

"Good Night And Good Luck"
 by Mike Smith
The Halloween Horror Picture Show 2005....Game Show Cool
 by Vinnie Blesi
All Hallows Eve! A Brief History of our Favorite Holiday
 by Dylan Jones
That Boy's Good--Good and Terrible .... Rockin' Doctor Noah Drake .... Commercials .... It's All White in the NBA .... Movie Notes....Passing On....Jaws: The Story Part 38
 by Mike Smith
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Archives 2005
Archives 2004
Archives 2003
Archives 2002
Archives 2001
Archives 2000
Email PCR

Warner International Pictures     
Starring: David Strathairn, Robert Downey Jr, George Clooney, Patricia Clarkson, Jeff Daniels, and Frank Langella
Directed by: George Clooney
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 1 hour 33 mins

I was born about 15 years too late to have seen Edward R. Murrow live on television. He was, arguably, the first real newsman, paving the way for Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley and others. During the late 1950s, he dared to confront the junior senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy, who seemed hell bent on proving that anyone that didn't share his ideals was a communist. Now, almost 50 years later, and obviously influenced by his own fathers' career as a newscaster, director Clooney has fashioned a masterpiece of a film that, like Murrow, is both fair and honest.

It's been more then two years since I said this about George Clooney as a director in my review of "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, "...it is quite obvious that he can have a career behind the camera anytime he wants." His second film in the director's chair makes me look like a genius. He has chosen to shoot the film in black and white and, like Martin Scorsese's "Raging Bull," the decision proves to be a wise one. The late 50s was a time when it seemed that everyone smoked. Not only were Murrow's broadcasts sponsored by Kent (which is highlighted in a great commercial from the era) but Murrow often smoked on camera. Here the smoke filled air adds it's own contrast to the photography, giving the film a great realism.

The cast is outstanding. Strathairn, who has carved out a fine career in such films as "Eight Men Out" and "LA Confidential" is perfect as Murrow. I have seen plenty of old footage of Murrow and Strathairn gets everything right, from his posture to his vocal inflections. He displays both sides of Murrow, be it the hard newsman involved in something he believes in or his off camera manner when he has to do "fluff" interviews with celebrities. A clip of Murrow interviewing Liberace, feigning interest when "Lee" discusses his plans for marriage, is priceless. Clooney is his producer, Fred Friendly and both men answer to network head Jeff Daniels. Daniels' character does his best to keep the newsmen out of trouble, even suggesting that instead of McCarthy they go after Joe Kennedy. He even offers to pay for it. Langella plays head of CBS Bill Paley as a man who is loyal to those around him, in spite of how it may effect him. In a brilliant move, rather then hire an actor to play McCarthy, Clooney uses actual newsreel footage and old kinescopes of the Senator. This way, rather then possibly slanting the film by putting words into an actors mouth, ala "JFK,' filmgoers can see the man the way he was and hear his words from his own mouth. Speaking of JFK, it's quite a shock to see a very young Robert Kennedy at the end of the Senate table. When McCarthy accepts Murrow's offer to appear on his show, it spells the beginning of the end for the Senator. Throughout the film Clooney sets the mood with short musical vignettes performed by Diana Reeves and the jazz combo that used to accompany his aunt, Rosemary Clooney.

As the year comes to an end, it's time for Hollywood to bring out their end of the year entries for the Oscars. Like "A History of Violence," "Good Night and Good Luck" should win a slot in the Best Picture race. On a scale of zero to four, I'm giving "Good Night and Good Luck"  Four stars

This week's movie review of "Good Night And Good Luck" is ©2005 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2005, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.