I’ve always looked favorable on some of the icons of journalism. While I’ve often expressed a fondness for Hunter S. Thompson, who if he wasn’t the godfather of Gonzo Journalism, he was one of its leading advocates. However, I’ve also often spoken highly of Edward R. Morrow, and I’ve often stated that the field of video game journalism needs someone like Murrow, who would be unafraid to say that, for example, Activision was heavily in the wrong on a particular topic, and then enumerate the reasons to support his argument, and ultimately shut them down. Probably the closest person to filling this role is Dan “Shoe” Hsu, formerly of Electronic Gaming Monthly. Anyway, when Good Night & Good Luck came out, it became a title on my must watch list. And there it remained until, finally, I got around to watching it. Now, what do I think about it?
The Premise: The film documents a series of influential shows done by Edward R. Morrow taking on Sen. Joseph McCarthy, and his Commission on American Activities, done in a docu-drama style.
The Good: The performances of the people around Morrow, his producers, colleagues, staff, etc, are excellently done, particularly the performances by George Clooney & Robert Downey Jr. Similarly, the staging of the film is excellent. Clooney, who directed, put the film entirely on interior sets, to give the film a sense of claustrophobia, but it also gives the film an effect similar to a stage performance. Now, I have no experience directing or writing for the stage, but I suspect that it wouldn’t take much work to adapt this film for the stage. Similarly, the use of period film from this time really helps ground the movie in the time it’s set.
The Bad: The sub-plot with Robert Downey Jr.’s character (Joseph Wershba) and his wife at work (Shirley – at the time, it was CBS policy not to have spouses working for the company), didn’t quite work for me. It was supposed to parallel Morrow’s struggle with McCarthy but, even though the story was based on real people, it didn’t work for me. I would not have complained if, perhaps, more time was spent on Don Hollenbeck’s story instead.
The Ugly: I don’t know if this was actually the case about Edward R. Morrow, Morrow, as played by David Straithairn, is the same on the air as off the air. Morrow might actually have been like that but, from what I’ve encountered from other journalists on other similar programs, if Morrow was like that, he was an outlier.
The Verdict: This is an excellent movie, and I would say it was deserving of every single one of the academy award nominations that it got, and it probably should have won for Best Screenplay. I reccomend going to see it. I do want to give a slight note, though – I ran into some problems with the Blu-Ray version of the movie in my player – on the sub menus it wouldn’t select the subtitle or audio track options, nor the documentary or trailer options on the special features menu. This may be an issue with this pressing, or with all editions of the Blu-Ray. The DVD release probably won’t have this problem – I don’t know about the HD-DVD relase. Nonetheless, you are warned.