Posted at 5:40 PM on April 10, 2006
by Euan Kerr
A DVD of "Goodnight and Good Luck" has been circulating the MPR newsroom in recent days, and the disc came to rest at our place last week. It's a thought-provoking flick, particularly for those of us in the Fourth Estate. Edward R. Murrow, Fred Friendly, and the rest of the CBS "See It Now " team changed history when they went up against Senator Joseph McCarthy.
We in the media like to puff ourselves up and point to important broadcasts like that, trying to a little on the coat-tails. We radio people claim Murrow as one of our own who only went reluctantly into television. Yet in quieter darker moments I get the sense many of us wonder if we would be up to the task if faced with a similar situation.
"Good Night and Good Luck" carries itself with a simple sophisticated stylishness, from the black and white presentation to the elegant close-ups which mirror the way Murrow presented himself, cigarette in hand, to the viewing world. The film's use of Murrow's own words, and the footage from the broadcasts showing McCarthy give a deeper than usual glimpse into the past.
This is a story about words, and the way they can be used to forge important messages. (I find myself comparing how similar themes are dealt in other films I have watched recently, "Thank You for Smoking" where the topic is spin, and "Hell in the Pacific" where two enemies who don't speak each other's language have to learn a way of communicating if they are to survive.)
David Strathairn's steely-eyed portrayal of Murrow allows us just brief glances beneath the Edward R. facade, and they are perhaps the most rewarding moments of all. Yet even now, more than half a century after he wrote and presented them it's Murrow's words which still carry us along.
The DVD will no doubt be circling the newsroom for a while yet.
I did manage to take in "Lucky Number Slevin" over the weekend, and to answer the Movie Maven's question: yes Josh Hartnett does still seem to be in the ascendency. But, my-oh-my, that is a bloody film. I am not sure what some films like this just rub me the wrong way. It all makes sense in the end, but it is just so unrelenting.
Oh and if you are interested we now a have a story about the Oak Street.