With the ever-continuing box office slump, movie-goers have begun to question if a loss in originality is to blame for a general lack of enthusiasm about going to the cinemas.
If the recent influx of biopics and other films “based on real events” is any indication, they are not wrong.
Over the past couple of years, Hollywood has taken it upon itself to release movies that feature influential celebrities or other public figures of the past century. These stories highlight the struggles behind the stars and the obstacles they faced as they worked their way to the top of the charts. Such films include “Ray,” “Beyond the Sea” and “Walk the Line” among others.
Probably the newest and best example of a biopic, although it is more of a nonfiction story, is “Good Night, and Good Luck” about the legendary CBS news anchor Edward R. Murrow and his battle against Senator Joe McCarthy. It is one of the most innovative portrayals of broadcast journalism to hit the big screen in quite some time.
The film takes place during the McCarthy era when the senator tried to rid the country of communists. Murrow, played brilliantly by David Strathairn, attacked McCarthy’s witch-hunt style in several pieces airing on CBS news, culminating in a government investigation of McCarthy and his methods. Along the way, Murrow and his team dealt with happiness and heartbreak as they struggled against censors and companies who threatened to pull advertising from the program because of the stories.
The film is done in a style that brings the viewer inside the newsroom and provides an up-close look at the workings and controversy in the world of broadcast journalism.
Directed by, co-written by and co-starring George Clooney, the movie is filmed in black and white, which makes it more realistic for a film taking place in the 1950s. Clooney expertly fuses history and humor together to keep the viewer completely enthralled by the events happening onscreen.
From the married couple who must keep their relationship secret in the newsroom to the suicide of a colleague after bad press, the movie is perfect for students studying journalism or communications and trying to understand what a newsroom is all about.
Probably the best example of newsroom madness comes during Murrow’s first report on McCarthy. The phones in the studio are turned off to avoid any interruptions. The report finishes and Murrow and his partner Fred Friendly (Clooney) wait for the calls to come in. When there is nothing but silence, Murrow comments that maybe people weren’t even watching. Suddenly, a voice from the control room calls out, “Should I turn the phones back on?”
Classic humor like this is a trademark of the film’s ups and downs and truly exemplifies the tension and panic that goes through a newsroom when an important story is about to break.
This movie is a must-see for everyone interested in journalism. And now, to quote Murrow’s trademark ending line, “Good night, and good luck.”