Good Night, and Good Luck

 
Compelling political drama won't engage most kids.
  • Review Date: March 13, 2006
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 90 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Senator McCarthy is a monster, but the journalists are stoic and smart.

Violence

A character kills himself offscreen.

Sex

Very brief, between husband and wife.

Language

Mild (damn and hell).

Consumerism

1950s era ads for cigarettes, Alcoa as a sponsor for news shows.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Non-stop smoking, some drinking at a neighborhood bar after work.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this drama includes some mild language and nearly non-stop smoking (Murrow's addiction is well known). The notorious Senator Joseph McCarthy appears in news footage, condemning people as "communists" in the HUAC hearings and on television, based on spurious or no evidence. A husband and wife employed by CBS must hide the fact of their marriage because it's against company policy. Coworkers drink at a bar after work. During Murrow's interview with Liberace, the famously gay pianist talks about wanting to find a good woman, something of an inside joke. A journalist is so unnerved by accusations that he's a communist that he kills himself (off screen, but other characters react to the news).

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What's the story?

GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK is George Clooney's admiring portrait of Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn). Murrow first appears in 1958 accepting an award from the Radio-Television News Directors Association for his remarkable work as a journalist, then cuts back to 1953, just as Murrow's measured, sustained response to McCarthy's House Un-American Activities Committee is getting underway. Murrow and See It Now producer Fred Friendly (Clooney) decide to air a story on a Navy pilot dismissed following false accusations by McCarthy that he's a security risk. The show, and Murrow's introduction and closing thoughts, catch McCarthy's attention, and CBS president William Paley (Frank Langella) calls him into his office and arranges a punishment: fewer documentary/opinion broadcasts and more episodes of Person to Person, the mostly celebrity interview program that Murrow detested. The film takes up a specific moment in Murrow's career -- his public battle with Senator Joseph McCarthy -- it sets up an opposition between righteousness and fear. But it also shows the political and cultural contexts for this opposition.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Elegant, deft, focused, and shot in exquisite black and white, the film is partly reverential, partly probing. As Murrow reads from his award acceptance speech, you realize that this work is not only investigative or even resistant to the powers that be, but gorgeously written. If you come away from Good Night and Good Luck with nothing else, you will come away with renewed appreciation for luminous prose.

Selected images from the HUAC hearings are often riveting, as when McCarthy accuses Annie Lee Moss of being a communist, a charge so patently baseless that a committee member finally demanded that McCarthy and lawyer Roy Cohn produce proof of the charges. More artificial and so more provocative are inserts of jazz singer Dianne Reeves; apparently recording in a CBS studio some standards that comment on the action. While artists -- and here, no coincidence, a black woman artist -- might have and even pronounce insight into the bluesy world we all inhabit, the folks in the upper floor offices don't hear it.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the basic moral and political issues the film raises. What is the news media's role with regard to government corruption, error, and cover-up? How does the film incorporate images of black women -- one in footage being grilled by McCarthy, and another singing in a CBS recording studio -- as comments on the abuse of power by white authorities?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 7, 2005
DVD release date:March 14, 2006
Cast:David Strathairn, Jeff Daniels, Patricia Clarkson
Director:George Clooney
Studio:Warner Independent
Genre:Drama
Topics:History
Run time:90 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:mild thematic elements and brief language

This review of Good Night, and Good Luck was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written bybethlthomson April 9, 2008
age 0+
 
this is not for kids to see its for adlut or for teens only.
Parent of a 12 year old Written byTsion April 9, 2008
age 0+
 

A Complex and Interesting Portrayal of 50s Journalism...

When I learned that George Clooney directed this film, I was eager to see it. I had read positive reviews about it online. I am glad I saw it. It was enticing and interesting; the script was decent and the acting excellent. But I didn't come away feeling wuite fufilled. The lessons of 50s history and the power of honesty are timeless and valuable, but I walked away wishing there was more to it. Don't get me wrong, it was a pretty darn good movie, and George Clooney was impressive in his writing, acting, and directing, but I expected more. Language is really the only issue in the movie, and it's mild. There are two "hells" and two "godd**ns". There is no sex, and no on-screen violence, though you hear brief talk of a troubled journalist who committed suicide. Everyone in the film smokes almost constantly and they drink a bit too, but smoking/drinking isn't promoted. It's an impressive movie. It's okay for kids 11 and up, but the plot, despite the slow pace of the film, moves moves fast and it can be hard for kids to keep up. Not a masterpiece or anything, but recommended.
Adult Written byGhcool April 9, 2008

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