Monday, November 07, 2005

Good Night, Good Luck, Have a Smoke

Just a few thoughts on Good Night, and Good Luck, which I had caught over the weekend thanks to tickets courtesy of David Cirilli of Ken Sunshine Consultants (other than the free tickets, I've received nothing for this blurb--not even a free bag of popcorn or Junior Mints. And those who prefer Raisinets to Goobers can go back to Russia!):

David Strathairn is a serious actor. My bet is he gets the Oscar nod. After a few scenes, you get the impression that Murrow's opinion of himself and his crusade for truth, justice, and the American Way is as high as Joe McCarthy's (or better yet, your modern-day network anchor). Still, Murrow's interview of Liberace, in which he asks the pianist if he'll ever settle down and get married is priceless. In addition, Strathairn deserves props for being a nonsmoker who, true to his character, smoked like a chimney for all 90 minutes. I don't think there was a single scene showing him without a cigarette.

Who is the real enemy in Good Night, and Good Luck? It's not McCarthy. Ultimately it is television and Bill Paley's vision for CBS versus that of Murrow and Fred Friendly's. (As CBS president, Paley sees a future not with Murrow's preachy talk show but, rather, with the more lucrative $64,000 Question.) It's obvious this movie is director George Clooney's Quiz Show moment.

Look carefully at the footage from the McCarthy hearings and you will see sitting there quietly a young Bobby Kennedy. Interestingly, he isn't quoted saying anything.

Performances across the board are stellar. But in particular is Ray Wise, a B-movie actor who I think deserves a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for the role of Don Hollenbeck. A war correspondence in North Africa during the war, Hollenbeck worked at CBS until his untimely death in 1954, an apparent suicide. Wise's Hollenbeck is sad and earnest. I asked a friend who actually knew him during his days at PM Magazine if Hollenbeck was really as sympathetic. My friend says he was indeed, "a very, very nice man."

At the very least, you'll leave Good Night, and Good Luck with a hankering for a smoke and a drink and maybe listen to some Cool Jazz. Not such a bad idea at the moment.

1 comment:

Jay D. Homnick said...

Thanks, Vic, it would never have crossed my mind for one second that this might be worth seeing. You made a sale.