Thursday, April 26, 2012
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.
(October 2005, U.S.)
In this century of computer generated images, ongoing film franchises and a ridiculous overkill of comic book super hero movies, it always impresses me when the studios decide to occassionally release a film with a story of a period of our American history. It impresses me even more when filmmakers have the balls to make the film in black and white. So, hail to thee, filmmaker George Clooney for GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK!
Before this film, I admitedly knew almost nothing about Edward R. Murrow. I knew he'd been in broadcasting and I'd occassionally heard the local New York Channel 11 advertise their news program as "winner of the Edward R. Murrow award". Honestly, that was it. I did not know of the man's history in radio journalism during World War II, his extensive involvement in television and with CBS during the 1950s. Most importantly, I did not know of his rather historic conflict with Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, particularly relating to the anti-Communist Senator's actions with the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and his attacks on accused Americans. The film focuses on the theme of media responsibility, and also addresses what occurs when the media offers a rare voice of dissent against the government. Though set in the 1950s, the theme of that dissent seemed all-the-more relevant in 2005 when George W. Bush was still sitting in the White House and our own government seemed just as mistrustful as ever during a post 9-11 world of terrorism, homeland security and what would define a "safe" person in America.
When I watch this film, though, my attention seems focussed on not-so-much the impressive and courageous man that Edward R. Murrow for standing his ground and acting on his convictions against our own homegrown evil, but rather the important and responsible role that television played in the lives of everyday Americans. During the Golden Age of television that was the 1950s, Milton Berle, Jackie Gleason and Lucille Ball may have ruled the entertainment airwaves, but it was television news (particularly CBS) that could clearly be trusted to inform and educate reasonably intelligent American citizens who wanted to hear the truth about their world. How would one possibly describe the news today without becoming truly cynical?? How many times are we going to keep turning on the news and find that the day's top story is that Lindsay Lohan got into trouble with the law AGAIN??? How many times am I going to turn on NBC news and see Chuck Scarborough continuously report the day's worst local tragedies with that same silly grin of his??? Do you see what I'm getting at? While, admitedly, CBS continues to still hold onto some of its integrity with news shows like SUNDAY MORNING and 60 MINUTES, it's become painfully clear that we live in a world where most people are just too damn impatient or too damn stupid to watch the news without some degree of entertaining fluff added to it. And unfortunately, our news media has become so irresponsible by indulging stupid American viewers with this fluff!
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK. confirms that television news and journalism was not only the more trusted and respectable media of decades past, but also makes it crucially clear of just how low in the mud our media has slowly become ever since then...all of this WITHOUT even mentioning the constant plague of singing and dancing reality shows that just won't go away! Oh, somebody please make them go away!!!
I'm proud to say that GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK., in my opinion, is one of the ten best films of the last decade.
Favorite line or dialogue:
Edward R. Murrow (regarding television): "To those who say people wouldn't look; they wouldn't be interested; they're too complacent, indifferent and insulated, I can only reply: There is, in one reporter's opinion, considerable evidence against that contention. But even if they are right, what have they got to lose? Because if they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost. This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box. Good night, and good luck."
In the 1950s, Ed may have been right. If he were still alive to see television today, I don't think he still would have said that.