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“This is Edward R. Murrow,” narrated by Robert Trout

Published on Dec 11, 2013

A posthumous look at Murrow’s career and legacy.

George Clooney on the Life and Career of Edward R. Murrow: Good Night and Good Luck Film (2005)

The Film Archives
Published on May 16, 2013

Good Night, and Good Luck. is a 2005 American drama film directed by George Clooney. About the film:…

The film was written by Clooney and Grant Heslov, both of whom also act in the film, and portrays the conflict between veteran radio and television journalist Edward R. Murrow and U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, especially relating to the anti-Communist Senator’s actions with the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The movie, although released in black and white, was filmed on color film stock but on a grayscale set, and was color corrected to black and white during post-production. It focuses on the theme of media responsibility, and also addresses what occurs when the media offer a voice of dissent from government policy. The movie takes its title (which ends with a period or full stop) from the line with which Murrow routinely signed off his broadcasts.

The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Actor for David Strathairn, Best Director for Clooney and Best Picture. Good Night, and Good Luck. is set in 1953, during the early days of television broadcast journalism. Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) and his dedicated staff—headed by his co-producer Fred Friendly (George Clooney) and reporter Joseph Wershba (Robert Downey, Jr.) in the CBS newsroom—defy corporate and sponsorship pressures, and discredit the tactics used by Joseph McCarthy during his crusade to root out Communist elements within the government. Murrow first defends Milo Radulovich, who is facing separation from the U.S. Air Force because of his sister’s political leanings and because his father is subscribed to a Serbian newspaper.

Murrow makes a show on McCarthy attacking him. A very public feud develops when McCarthy responds by accusing Murrow of being a communist. Murrow is accused of having been a member of the leftist union Industrial Workers of the World, which Murrow claimed was false. In this climate of fear and reprisal, the CBS crew carries on and their tenacity ultimately strikes a historic blow against McCarthy. Historical footage also shows the questioning of Annie Lee Moss, a Pentagon communication worker accused of being a communist based on her name appearing on a list seen by an FBI infiltrator of the American Communist Party.

The film’s subplots feature Joseph and Shirley Wershba, recently married staffers, having to hide their marriage to save their jobs at CBS as well as the suicide of Don Hollenbeck (Ray Wise) who had been accused in print of being a Communist. The film is framed by performance of the speech given by Murrow to the Radio and Television News Directors Association in 1958, in which Murrow harshly admonishes his audience not to squander the potential of television to inform and educate the public.