"Editing Out the Facts"
What You Need To Know:
Though well-produced and well-acted, GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK sticks mainly to the radical liberal, revisionist version about the controversy surrounding Murrow's programs and Sen. Joe McCarthy. As such, it offers mainly emotional, bombastic arguments and lots of style, but little substance. Despite some minor problems with her book, MOVIEGUIDE® recommends Ann Coulter's bestseller TREASON instead. It offers a more detailed, better researched and more well-rounded look at Sen. McCarthy's career.
(H, PCPC, RHRH, Co, L, V, AA, D, M) Humanist, politically correct, liberal worldview about TV commentator Edward R. Murrow's pseudo-journalistic hatchet job on Senator Joseph McCarthy, which distorts history, including the radical, anti-American aims of the American Civil Liberties Union, and fails to honestly deal with the facts that do not fit its worldview while downplaying the dangers of Communism; six light obscenities and two strong profanities; implied suicide includes brief scene where man apparently turns on the gas; no sex scenes, but kissing and married couple lies in bed; no nudity; lots of alcohol use and some light drunkenness; lots of smoking; and, liberal gloating over the defeat and possible destruction of one's conservative enemy.
There are few facts on display in GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK, actor George Clooney’s liberal version of CBS-TV news commentator’s Edward R. Murrow’s feud with the fiercely anti-Communist senator from Wisconsin, Joe McCarthy. The movie presents the feud as an emotional battle of political rhetoric, with the loser, of course, being Sen. McCarthy. The real historical facts, however, are not so clear.
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK opens with Murrow giving a speech in the late 1950s warning about the confusion of TV news with entertainment. Cut to 1953 at the height of Sen. McCarthy’s war against left-wing security risks in the United States government. The newsmen working with Murrow on his SEE IT NOW news commentary show are itching to bring down the senator.
At the height of Sen. McCarthy’s campaign warning about potential security risks in the U.S. Army, Murrow does a show about a young lieutenant mustered out of the Army because of the allegedly left-wing activities of two family members. Murrow does another program on McCarthy’s own speeches, ending with a strong commentary against Sen. McCarthy and giving the senator a whole half hour to respond. McCarthy’s response includes an attack on Murrow’s own political background. The next week, Murrow responds by castigating Sen. McCarthy further and claiming that McCarthy got one of his facts wrong. In the wake of the controversy, Murrow’s show loses its sponsor and CBS cancels it, claiming that the show’s ratings are not good enough.
Filmed in black and white, GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK is well-produced and well-acted. Of course, the movie does not tell viewers that McCarthy had nothing to do with the young lieutenant’s situation. Nor does it show that McCarthy’s response to Murrow’s attacks included a lot more details than just a questioning of Murrow’s own political motives.
Furthermore, in researching this controversy, MOVIEGUIDE® could find no support for Murrow’s claim that McCarthy got one of his facts wrong, namely that, contrary to what McCarthy claimed, Murrow was never a member of a radical, pro-Communist union group called the Industrial Workers of the World. In fact, Wikipedia on the Internet lists Murrow as a member, but Wikipedia apparently is not always reliable. Also, MOVIEGUIDE® could not find a second source for this factoid, one way or another.
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK sticks mainly to the radical liberal, pro-Communist, revisionist version about the controversy surrounding Murrow’s programs and Sen. McCarthy. As such, it offers mainly emotional, bombastic arguments and lots of style, but not much substance. Despite some minor problems with her book, MOVIEGUIDE® recommends people read Ann Coulter’s bestseller TREASON instead. It offers a more detailed, better researched and more well-rounded look at Sen. McCarthy’s career. Despite Coulter’s usual rhetorical flourishes, her book is a good, informative read. It’s easier, however, to have a rational argument supported by many facts in a non-fiction book like TREASON than it is in a 90-minute movie like this.
The visual medium of TV was not kind to McCarthy’s stump-speech style of delivery, but the poor man was repeatedly vilified in the national liberal press, which instigated a Congressional investigation of McCarthy’s probe of security risks in the military. Murrow was definitely a better communicator on TV, but his tactics, as shown by this movie and tapes of his actual work, could be just as emotional and bombastic. We now know, of course, that McCarthy was at least partially right in that the United States government and many left-leaning organizations had indeed been infiltrated by Communist spies from the Soviet Union. Furthermore, please note that Murrow’s reports on McCarthy include little, if any, contrary arguments or interviews from McCarthy or any of McCarthy’s supporters. Neither, regrettably, does this movie. That hardly strikes MOVIEGUIDE® as objective, fair journalism or honest filmmaking.