AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
Name Occurs Before Title Offscreen Credit Print Viewed By AFI
Good Night, and Good Luck
Alternate Title: Murrow and Me
Director: George Clooney (Dir)
Release Date:   7 Oct 2005
Premiere Information:   Premiere at Venice Film Festival: 1 Sep 2005; New York Film Festival: 23 Sep 2005
Production Date:   1 Mar--early Apr 2005 at CBS Studio Center, Studio City, CA
Duration (in mins):   90
Print this page
Display Movie Summary

Cast:   David Strathairn (Edward R. Murrow)  
    George Clooney (Fred Friendly)  
    Robert Downey, Jr. (Joe Wershba)  
    Patricia Clarkson (Patricia Wershba)  
    Jeff Daniels (Sig Mickelson)  
    Frank Langella (William Paley)  
    Ray Wise (Don Hollenbeck)  
    Tate Donovan (Jesse Zousmer)  
    Tom McCarthy (Palmer Williams)  
    Reed Diamond (John Aaron)  
    Matt Ross (Eddie Scott)  
    Robert John Burke (Charlie Mack)  
    Grant Heslov (Don Hewitt)  
    Alex Borstein (Natalie)  
    Rose Abdoo (Millie Lerner)  
    Alex Borstein (Natalie)  
    Glenn Morshower (Colonel Anderson)  
    Don Creech (Colonel Jenkins)  
    Robert Knepper (Don Surine)  
    Helen Slayton-Hughes (Mary)  
    JD Callum (Stage manager)  
    Simon Helberg (CBS page)  
    Peter Jacobson (Jimmy)  
    Dianne Reeves (Jazz singer)  
    Peter Martin (Pianist)  
    Christoph Luty (Bassist)  
    Jeff Hamilton (Drummer)  
    Matt Catingub (Saxophonist)  
    John Kepley (Government lawyer #1)  
    David Paul Christian (Government lawyer #2)  
    Joyce Lasley (Make-up girl)  

Summary: At a banquet on 25 October 1958, members of the Radio and Television News Directors Association honor reporter Edward R. Murrow. The emcee outlines Murrow’s many significant achievements, among them, his highly publicized fight with the junior senator from Wisconsin, Joseph R. McCarthy. Murrow then takes the podium and, knowing that his words are controversial, warns his colleagues that television is becoming a means to distract, delude, amuse and insulate the public from important issues. Five years earlier, on 14 October 1953, Murrow is the host of a prime-time weekly CBS television news documentary series, See It Now . He is assisted by his partner, producer Fred Friendly, and a dedicated team of young reporters consisting of Joe Wershba, Don Hewitt, Palmer Williams, Jesse Zousmer, John Aaron, Charlie Mack and Eddie Scott. The newsroom is bustling with activity in preparation for upcoming broadcasts. Alone in the photocopy room is Joe and his colleague Shirley, whom he has married secretly against company rules regarding nepotism. They are discussing a loyalty oath the studio is pressuring employees to sign, when a co-worker, finding them alone together, cryptically tells the couple that some rules are meant to be broken. Soon after, Murrow, Friendly and the reporters meet to brainstorm potential topics for an upcoming show. After the meeting ends inconclusively, Murrow remains behind to show Friendly a news item from Detroit reporting how Milo Radulovich, a lieutenant in the Air Force Reserve, has been declared a poor security risk based on possibly false accusations that his father and sister are Communists. The lieutenant is being decommissioned without trial on charges contained in a sealed envelope that neither he nor his attorney is allowed to see. Believing that McCarthy, who is leading investigations to smoke out persons who might be involved in Communist activities, is behind Radulovich’s dismissal, Friendly sends Joe and Charlie to check out the story. A few days later, the news team views film footage shot by the reporters depicting Milo refusing to denounce his relatives in exchange for his Air Force commission. Despite opposition from two Army colonels and from Sig Mickelson, the head of the CBS news department who worries that the story is biased and will invite retribution from McCarthy, Murrow and Friendly decide to cover it and offer to pay for the episode themselves when Sig fears that the show’s sponsor, Alcoa, will back out. On 20 October, the Radulovich story is featured on See It Now . Before the show, Murrow waits at the desk on the crowded soundstage, while Friendly, holding a stopwatch, sits beside him on the floor out of the camera’s vision. In their usual manner, they banter in a dry-humored way, but both are anxiously aware of the risk they are taking by airing the story. During the show, Murrow explains Regulation 35-62, which names a person as a security risk, if he is in “close and continual contact” with Communist sympathizers. He explains that Radulovich’s loyalty has not been questioned and that “the son should not bear the sins of the father.” In conclusion, he reminds the audience that no one knows whether the accusations against Radulovich are based on hearsay or facts. Days later, the CBS late night news host, Don Hollenbeck, is distraught that he is being targeted by McCarthy’s cohorts. Soon after, Joe is presented with flimsy evidence that Murrow had previously been on the Soviet payroll. Although Murrow’s reputation remains unquestioned by everyone who knows him, William S. Paley, his longtime friend and chairman of CBS, worries that the studio will become McCarthy’s target. To protect Murrow, Friendly decides that McCarthy’s scare tactics should be featured in an upcoming show. When team members worry about the backlash, Murrow says they must do the show, because “terror is in this room.” On 9 March 1954, Paley calls Murrow prior to the show’s broadcast to give his blessing. Using film footage of McCarthy and the senator’s own quotes, Murrow highlights inadequacies in McCarthy’s investigations and eloquently points out that “dissent is not disloyalty,” nor is accusation proof, and that conviction must depend on solid evidence and due process. Gallantly, Murrow offers McCarthy the chance for rebuttal in a later show. After the show, reviews are mostly favorable, hailing the piece as a masterpiece of crusading journalism, and statistics disclose that the country is behind Murrow fifteen to one. However, one reviewer loyal to McCarthy accuses See It Now , CBS and Hollenbeck of Communist ties. A few weeks later, Murrow opens See It Now with a brief introduction and then, without comment, presents a film prepared by McCarthy. In his rebuttal, McCarthy does not address any of the issues Murrow had brought up, but spends his airtime making shallow accusations that Murrow is a Communist sympathizer. The following week, Murrow clearly denies the accusations made by McCarthy and concludes that McCarthy’s opinion is that anyone who opposes him is a Communist and, further, suggests that mature Americans can engage in conversation with Communists without conversion. In the ensuing weeks, the team is pleased to learn that Radulovich is being reinstated by the Air Force and that the Army is pressuring the Senate to investigate McCarthy. However, their joy is short-lived when Hollenbeck, unable to withstand numerous public accusations that he is disloyal to his country, commits suicide. Sig startles Joe and Shirley by telling them that everyone knows they are married and, after confiding that he must lay off personnel, asks one of them to quit voluntarily. Paley tells Friendly and Murrow that Alcoa has dropped their sponsorship. To make room for the entertainment and game shows that affiliates have been requesting, Paley moves See It Now to an irregular Sunday slot. In the hallway, Murrow and Friendly realize that, like McCarthy, they still have their jobs, but are in less prominent positions. They decide to make the best of it and produce a few episodes on hard-hitting, significant topics. Several years later, at the 1958 banquet, Murrow concludes his speech by pleading that television can occasionally provide educational programs. He says that, “This instrument can teach…illuminate…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.” 

Production Company: Section Eight  
  2929 Entertainment  
  Participant Productions  
Distribution Company: Warner Independent Films (A TimeWarner Company)
  Davis Films  
  Redbus Pictures  
  Metropolitan Films  
Director: George Clooney (Dir)
  David Webb (1st asst dir)
  Melissa V. Barnes (2d asst dir)
  Richard Gonzales (2d 2d asst dir)
Producer: Grant Heslov (Prod)
  Todd Wagner (Exec prod)
  Mark Cuban (Exec prod)
  Marc Butan (Exec prod)
  Jeff Skoll (Exec prod)
  Chris Salvaterra (Exec prod)
  Steven Soderbergh (Exec prod)
  Jennifer Fox (Exec prod)
  Ben Cosgrove (Exec prod)
  Samuel Hadida (Co-exec prod)
  Victor Hadida (Co-exec prod)
  Barbara A. Hall (Co-prod)
  Simon Franks (Co-prod)
  Zygi Kamasa (Co-prod)
  Kiyotaka Ninomiya (Co-prod)
Writer: George Clooney (Scr)
  Grant Heslov (Scr)
Photography: Robert Elswit (Dir of photog)
  Colin Anderson (Cam op)
  Barry Idoine (A cam 1st asst cam)
  Larissa Supplitt (A cam 2d asst cam)
  John T. Connor (B cam 1st asst cam)
  Alexandra Kravetz (B cam 2d asst cam)
  Michael Bauman (Chief lighting tech)
  Matthew W. Williams (Film loader)
  J. A. Byerly (Rigging gaffer)
  Simone Perusse (Asst chief lighting tech)
  Scott Barnes (Lighting programmer)
  Tommy Dangcil (Elec)
  Michael Tolochko (Elec)
  Michael Amorelli (Rigging elec)
  Douglas Bard (Rigging elec)
  Mitch Byerly (Rigging elec)
  Tom Nead (Rigging elec)
  John Amorelli (Rigging elec)
  Earl "The Badger" Williams (Rigging best boy elec)
  Joe Garcia (CBS best boy elec)
  William Glasscock (Fixtures)
  Michael Kenner (Key grip)
  John P. Morris (Best boy grip)
  Eric Nieber (CBS best boy grip)
  Jeff Kunkel (Dolly grip)
  Eric Cross (Dolly grip)
  Ivan Gonzalez (Grip)
  Hank Sheppherd (Key rigging grip)
  Andrew Wilson (Rigging grip)
  James Heywood (Rigging grip)
  Art Morques (Rigging grip)
  Walter Byrnes (Rigging grip)
  Paul Lambiase (Rigging grip)
  Robert Clancey (Rigging grip)
  Tom Schurke (24 frame video supv/Eng)
  David D. Scott (Video assist)
  Melinda Sue Gordon (Still photog)
  TM Motion Picture Equipment Rentals (Addl lighting equip)
  Chapman/Leonard Studio Equipment, Inc. (Cam cranes & dollies by)
  Ryan Piers Williams (Cam prod asst)
Art Direction: Jim Bissell (Prod des)
  Christa Munro (Art dir)
  Charlotte Raybourn (Art dept coord)
  Tony Buccola (Art prod asst)
Film Editor: Stephen Mirrione (Ed)
  Douglas Crise (1st asst ed)
  Matt Absher (2d asst ed)
  Brian Ufberg (Asst ed)
  Bill Smythe (Projectionist)
Set Decoration: Jan Pascale (Set dec)
  Tony Bonaventura (Prop master)
  Ellis J. Barbacoff (Asst prop master)
  Gae Buckley (Set des)
  Louise del Araujo (Lead)
  Heidi Baumgarten (Buyer)
  Jenny D. Baum (On-set dresser)
  Deborah Harman (Set dresser)
  Alan Burg (Set dresser)
  Susie Thompson (Set dresser)
  Mark Rodriguez (Set dresser)
  Karen D. Higgins (Const coord)
  Steven Kissick (General foreman)
  Edward A. Giron (Labor foreman)
  Steve R. Valenzuela (Gang boss/Toolman)
  Robert Danté Denne (Paint foreman)
  Robert E. Denne (Painter)
  Duane Fellows (Painter)
  Ron Savini (Plaster foreman)
  Brian Tipton (Propmaker gang boss)
  Alan Alvarado (Propmaker)
  Mats Holmberg (Propmaker)
  EC Props (Props )
Costumes: Louise Frogley (Cost des)
  Lynda Foote (Cost supv)
  Lucinda Campbell (Key cost)
  Kanani Wolf (Cost)
  Shandra Beri (Cost)
  Deborah Binkley (Cost)
Music: Allen Sviridoff (Mus supv)
  Matt Catingub (Sax)
  Jeff Hamilton (Drums)
  Christoph Luty (Bass)
  Robert Hurst (Bass)
  Peter Martin (Piano)
  Matt Catingub (Arr)
  Fields Pianos--Home of Steinway (Steinway pianos courtesy of)
  Bosphorus Cymbal Company (Cymbals courtesy of)
Sound: Edward Tise (Prod sd mixer)
  Curt Schulkey (Supv sd ed)
  Aaron Glascock (Supv sd ed)
  Oscar Mitt (Asst sd ed)
  Aaron Glascock (Re-rec mixer)
  Curt Schulkey (Re-rec mixer)
  Lance Brown (Re-rec mixer)
  Warner Bros. Post Production Sound (Re-rec services provided by)
  Mary Jo Lang (Foley mixer)
  Eric Gotthelf (ADR mixer)
  Scott A. Morgan (Foley rec)
  Carolyn Tapp (ADR rec)
  Randy Johnson (Boom op)
  Rocky Quiroz (Utility sound)
  John Joseph Thomas (Sd eff ed)
  Susan Dudeck (Dial ed)
  John Roesch (Foley artist)
  Alyson Moore (Foley artist)
  Pamela Kahn (Foley artist)
  Robert Corti (Audio restoration)
  Trackwise at Full House Productions (Archival sd transfers)
  Cineric, Inc. (Archival sd transfers)
Special Effects: Ron Bolanowski (Spec eff)
  Scarlet Letters (Titles by)
  Susan Bliss (English dubbing & subtitling lists)
  Aargil Video, Inc. (Archival film transfers)
  Technicolor New York (Archival film scanning )
  Christian Zak (Scanning prod)
  Steve Calalang (Scanning tech)
  Joe Cook (Dailies colorist)
  Sparkle (Dailies colorist)
  Chris Addis (Dailies digitizing)
  Technicolor Digital Intermediates (Digital intermediate by)
  Stephen Nakamura (Digital film colorist)
  Gregg Schaublin (Digital intermediate prod)
  Mark Sahagun (Digital conform)
  Chris Kutcka (Imaging supv)
  Steve Hodge (Imaging tech)
  Alex Hernandez (Imaging tech)
  Kevin Schwab (Imaging tech)
  Loc Hoang (Imaging tech)
  LaNelle Mason (Digital restoration)
  John Kearns (Digital restoration)
  Wilson Tang (Digital restoration)
  Brad Sutton (Digital restoration)
  Elizabeth Ostermann (Digital restoration)
  Steve Rundell (V.P. of prod (TDI))
  Technicolor Creative Services--Hollywood, CA (Visual eff)
  Caolifhionn Sweeney (Visual eff prod)
  Ernie Camacho (Compositor)
  Trey Freeman (Compositor)
  Paul Hill (Compositor)
  Joshua Jordan (Compositor)
  Kenney Kimble (Compositor)
  David Lebovitz (Compositor)
  Eric Myers (Compositor)
  Rich Kapenas (Stock footage restoration)
Make Up: Waldo Sanchez (Hair & makeup dept head)
  Ron Berkeley (Key makeup artist)
  Kathleen Vercruysse (Asst makeup artist)
  Kimberly Felix Burke (Asst makeup artist)
  Joy Zapata (Key hair stylist)
  Carolyn Elias (Hairstylist)
  Violet Ortiz (Hairstylist)
Production Misc: Ellen Chenoweth (Casting)
  Smith & Webster-Davis Casting (Extras casting)
  Rachel Tenner (Casting assoc)
  Lynne Redding (Voice casting)
  Barbara A. Hall (Unit prod mgr)
  Diane Hassinger Newman (Scr supv)
  Peter Phillips (Post prod supv)
  Marc Wuertemburg (2929 Entertainment post prod)
  Nicole Widmyer (Prod coord)
  Michelle Lankwarden (Asst prod coord)
  Chris Munday (Loc mgr)
  Andy Tyler (Asst loc mgr)
  Tad Driscoll (Accountant)
  Lorraine Vos (Asst accountant)
  Shea Kammer (Asst accountant)
  Art Weiss (Office prod asst)
  Lonnie Bosak (Office prod asst)
  Brinton Bryan (Key set prod asst)
  Carey Field (Set prod asst)
  Billy Greenfield (Set prod asst)
  Angel McConnell (Asst to Mr. Clooney)
  Tara Duncan (Asst to Mr. Heslov)
  Kenn Rabin (Archival scene research)
  Lisa Oberhofer (BBC/CBS liaison)
  Andrew Noren (Addl film research)
  Joe Wershba (Consultant)
  Shirley Wershba (Consultant)
  Rogers and Cowan (Pub)
  Dusty Saunders (Transportation coord)
  William Scott Pierson (Transportation capt)
  Patrick L. Sullivan (Driver)
  David Florio (Driver)
  Paul Jones (Driver)
  Paul Saunders (Driver)
  Silver Screen Catering (Caterer)
  Jeff Winn (Craft service)
  Gary Barkin (Prod counsel)
  Jill L. Smith (Prod counsel)
  Barkin-Smith (Prod counsel)
  Christopher D. Brearton (Participant counsel)
  Kenneth T. Deutsch (Participant counsel)
  O'Melveny & Myers LLP (Participant counsel)
  Douglas B. McClure (2929 counsel)
  2929 Entertainment (2929 counsel)
  P. John Burke (2929 counsel)
  Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP (2929 counsel)
  Kevin Koloff (Mus counsel)
  AON/Albert G. Ruben Insurance Services, Inc. (Insurance provided by)
  Film Finances, Inc. (Completion guarantor)
  History for Hire (Vintage television studio equipment provided by)
MPAA Rating: PG
Country: United States
Language: English

Music: "When I Fall in Love," by Edward Heyman and Victor Young, produced by Allen Sviridoff, Matt Catingub appears courtesy of Concord Records, Inc.
Songs: "TV Is the Thing This Year," music and lyrics by Phil Medley and William Sanford, produced by Allen Sviridoff; "I've Got My Eyes on You," music and lyrics by Cole Porter, produced by Allen Sviridoff; "You're Driving Me Crazy," music and lyrics by Walter Donaldson, produced by Allen Sviridoff; "How High the Moon," music and lyrics by Nancy Hamilton and Morgan Lewis, produced by Allen Sviridoff; "One for My Baby," music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer, produced by Allen Sviridoff.
Composer: Harold Arlen
  Walter Donaldson
  Nancy Hamilton
  Edward Heyman
  Morgan Lewis
  Phil Medley
  Johnny Mercer
  Cole Porter
  William Sanford
  Victor Young
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Good Night Good Luck, LLC 16/12/2005 dd/mm/yyyy PA0001276500

PCA NO: 41985
Physical Properties: Sd: Dolby Digital; dts; SDDS Sony Dynamic Digital in selected theatres
  Widescreen/ratio: Panavision
  Lenses/Prints: Col and prints by Technicolor; Cam and lenses by Panavision; Kodak Motion Pictures Products

Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Historical
  Show business
  with songs
Subjects (Major): Communism
  Journalistic ethics
  Joseph McCarthy
  Edward R. Murrow
  Television news and information
  Television personalities
Subjects (Minor): Banquets
  CBS (Television network)
  Civil rights
  Dismissal (Employment)
  False accusations
  Family relationships
  William S. Paley
  Television commercials
  Television directors
  Television producers
  Television programs
  Television sponsors
  United States. Air Force
  United States. Congress Army--McCarthy Hearings

Note: A working title of the film was Murrow and Me . Good Night, and Good Luck was released in black and white. Logos and onscreen credits for most of the film’s production and distribution companies appear before the title card, which precedes the film’s opening sequence. All other credits appear after the film. The first listing of onscreen cast credits ends with “and Diane Reeves,” the name of the singer who, with a jazz combo, performs musical interludes of 1950s-era standards that comment indirectly on the action of the film and occasionally continue as soundtrack under brief montages. Some sources erroneously reported the name of the character played by Jeff Daniels as “Ted Church.”
       The date of each sequence is superimposed over the action at the start of the scene, with the place occasionally added for clarity. The film commences with the beginning of a 1958 speech by broadcast journalist “Edward R. Murrow,” portrayed by actor David Strathairn, to the Radio and Television News Directors Association. After the story flashes back to 14 Oct 1953, a written prologue scrolling over the action states that Americans were concerned about the threat of Communism throughout the 1940s and 1950s, and that Senator Joseph R. McCarthy was leading a campaign to identify Communist party members. The statement ends by stating that few in the press stood up to McCarthy for fear of being targeted.
       The phrase, “Good night, and good luck,” was the real-life Murrow’s signoff on his radio and television programs, a custom he began in his early years as a CBS news correspondent. The career of Murrow (1908--1965), who is still considered the model of integrity and thoughtful broadcast journalism by current newsmen, came to prominence during World War II when, as a CBS radio correspondent, he made a series of broadcasts from England, beginning with another one of his signature phrases, “This is London.” The many reporters and producers Murrow mentored during the early days at CBS were referred to as “Murrow’s Boys” and went on to become leaders in their field. After the war, among Murrow’s many activities was the creation of spoken-word historical albums, called I Can Hear It Now , which was his first venture with producer Fred Friendly (portrayed in the film by director and co-writer George Clooney).
       In 1950, Murrow and Friendly co-produced the weekly radio show for CBS, Hear It Now , which they moved to television in 1951 and renamed See It Now . Among the topics covered on the show, in addition to Radulovich and McCarthy, which were shown in Good Night, and Good Luck , were the painter Grandma Moses, J. Robert Oppenheimer and nuclear technology, and the relationship between cigarette smoking and cancer. The series ran until 1955, when, as shown in the film, Alcoa Aluminum withdrew its sponsorship. As mentioned in the film, the show was aired irregularly during its last year. In 1953, Murrow began hosting a second weekly television show, Person to Person , which featured celebrity interviews and was a popular cultural phenomenon.
       During the early 1950s, McCarthy (1908--1957), a Republican junior senator from Wisconsin, chaired the Senate Committee on Government Operations and its Subcommittee on Investigations. In search of Communists who had infiltrated the government, as well as other positions in the nation, the committee investigated and questioned a large number of people about their political pasts, most of whom ultimately were proven to be innocent of Communist affiliation. To clear themselves, the witnesses, who often were targeted for minor events in their lives, were expected to name others they knew who had links, however tenuous, to Communist organizations. Anyone protesting the committee’s actions risked becoming a target, and a climate of fear developed.
       As depicted in the film, one of those highlighted by McCarthy’s investigations was first generation Yugoslavian-American, Air Force Reserve Lieutenant Milo Radulovich, who was discharged from the service because his sister and non-English speaking father were accused of being Communist sympathizers. These accusations were based on the family’s subscription to the American Slav Congress, a newspaper that had been designated as Communist by the U.S. Attorney General. A month after Murrow featured Radulovich’s story in an episode of See It Now and suggested that the son should not be punished for the sins of his father, the Army rescinded Radulovich’s discharge. Murrow and his colleagues became a target for McCarthy’s inquisition, which led to their decision to strike preemptively by devoting an episode entitled “A Report on Senator Joseph McCarthy.” The program was positively received all over the country and one of several incidents that influenced American public opinion against McCarthy and McCarthyism.
       According to the official website for Good Night, and Good Luck , the legendary Murrow was a “hero” to the family of George Clooney, whose father Nick was a news-anchor for thirty years. Wanting to do a project about Murrow, Clooney considered writing a television movie about the reporter, which he envisioned as a live broadcast similar to one of his previous projects, Fail Safe , which aired on CBS in 2000. According to the Baseline Studio Systems website, Maysville Pictures was the production company attached to the project when it was in development as a live television movie at CBS for the 1999-2000 season. After CBS turned the project down, Clooney and co-writer Grant Heslov (who also portrayed “Don Hewitt” in the film) decided to write their homage to Murrow as a feature film, focusing on a specific period of time instead of creating a traditional biopic.
       According to an Oct 2005 LADN article, because Clooney and Heslov expected that critics would marginalize any Murrow film for the smallest inaccuracies in the story, they were as scrupulous as possible in their recreation, double-sourcing every event just as a reporter would. Several of Murrow’s See It Now telecasts and portions of his banquet speech were reproduced verbatim in the film. In an Oct 2005 Premiere interview, Clooney stated that he and Heslov interviewed Milo Radulovich and members of Murrow’s and Fred Friendly’s families. The production notes stated that Radulovich, Joe and Shirley Wershba, and members of Friendly’s family were present at the initial read-through of the script, and the Wershbas served as consultants to the film.
       Clooney used original 1950s footage of the senator, because, according to the film’s production notes, Clooney and Heslov decided that no actor could convincingly play McCarthy without inviting criticism of a biased portrayal. In a Nov 2005 Sight&Sound interview, Clooney explained, “people would have said we were making him too harsh or too feeble,” if an actor had portrayed him. In order to match the original 1950s footage and also to capture the look of early television shows, the rest of the film, although shot in color, was converted to black and white.
       The original footage of Radulovich shown on See It Now , which was captured by the real-life reporter Joe Wershba, was intercut with modern footage of Robert Downey, Jr., who played him in the film. Original television commercials advertising Alcoa Aluminum and Kent Cigarettes are included in the film. Also included is footage of Liberace and Gina Lollobrigida from Murrow’s actual Person to Person interviews, which are intercut with shots of Strathairn portraying Murrow, who was normally in the studio while the celebrities he interviewed were seen in their homes or other remote locations. Also used in the film is original, restored footage of McCarthy’s committee hearings, including portions of an interrogation of Annie Lee Moss and footage showing Joseph Welch, the attorney for the Army, challenge McCarthy with his now famous question, “Have you no sense of decency…?” The latter, which was witnessed by millions of viewers, was originally aired on the ABC and DuMont networks on 9 Jun 1954 during the Army-McCarthy Hearings (which ran from 22 Apr—17 Jun 1954).
       Although, according to an Oct 2005 LADN article, Clooney originally considered playing the part of Murrow himself, he decided that his own wise-cracking, playboy image would tarnish his portrayal of the legendary figure, who “always looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders.” Instead, the role was filled by Strathairn, who many reviewers lauded for being able to capture the essence of Murrow rather than merely imitate him. As noted in the Citybeat and other reviews, ensemble scenes set in the studio offices were portrayed “realistically chaotic” by brisk, overlapping dialogue, which the actors often improvised. Many of the characters in the film are never introduced by name, although press notes distributed at screenings included short biographies of the characters’ real-life counterparts. The official website for Good Night, and Good Luck presented the biographies, as well as supplementary background information detailing events in the story that are not explained during the film.
       The production notes reported that Murrow’s cramped See It Now set was authentically replicated. An authentic piece of 1950s ambience, as noted in several reviews, was the highly visible presence of the smoke of cigarettes, which the actors continuously inhaled. Murrow, who was rarely seen on air without a cigarette, died of lung cancer in 1965. Another atmospheric element of the film was the jazz combo featuring Dianne Reeves performing for a musical variety show, Shower of Stars (an actual monthly musical variety show on CBS between 1954 and 1958), on a soundstage down the hall from Murrow’s.
       During a conversation early in the film, Murrow and Fred mention “the Alsop Brothers” and “Block.” Joseph and Stewart Alsop were political journalists for the New York Herald Tribune , Saturday Evening Post , and Newsweek . Herbert Block, was a Washington Post editorial cartoonist who, in his now famous cartoon published in 1950, coined the phrase “McCarthyism,” a term that became synonymous with political “witch-hunts” and anti-Communist hysteria. The cartoon depicted four Republicans trying to force a balky elephant (the traditional symbol of their political party) onto a stack of buckets containing tar, which were labeled “McCarthyism.”
       According to modern sources, Murrow’s 1958 speech damaged his long friendship with CBS chairman William S. Paley (1901—1990), and in 1961 he resigned from CBS to head the United States Information Agency. Friendly was promoted to head of the CBS News Division in 1964, but resigned in 1966, after the network decided to air a rerun of the comedy, I Love Lucy , instead of broadcasting live coverage of the Senate’s hearings on the country’s involvement in Vietnam. Don Hewitt, and Joe and Shirley Wershba, the latter portrayed by Patricia Clarkson in the film, became producers of the groundbreaking CBS news magazine program, 60 Minutes , a decade later.
       According to Clooney’s website, the budget for Good Night, and Good Luck was $7.5 million and the cast and crew worked for “scale” wages. A contemporary website added to the cast Joseph Dowd ( Reporter ), Katharine Phillips Moser ( Jesse Zousmer’s wife ) and Bruna Raynaud ( Sig Mickelson’s wife ).
       Good Night, and Good Luck had its premiere as the opening film at the Sep 2005 Venice Film Festival, where it won five of the six awards for which it was nominated. The picture also was the closing film for the London Film Festival on 3 Nov 2005. In addition to being named one of AFI’s ten Movies of the Year for 2005, Good Night, and Good Luck received acknowledgments from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association for Best Cinematography and from the National Board of Review for Best Picture. The film received Independent Spirit Award nominations for Best Feature Film, Best Director, Best Male Lead and Best Cinematography.
       Good Night, and Good Luck was nominated for six Academy Awards, for Best Picture, Directing, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Art Direction and Actor (Strathairn). The film also received Golden Globe nominations, for Best Motion Picture, Best Director, Best Actor in a Motion Picture--Drama and Best Screenplay—Motion Picture. Other nominations include Best Production from the Producers Guild of America, Best Original Screenplay from the Writers Guild of America, and Best Director from the Directors Guild of America. The Screen Actors Guild nominated Strathairn for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role and the ensemble for Outstanding Acting by a Cast. The Broadcast Film Critics Association awarded the picture their Freedom Award and nominated the film for Best Picture, Best Actor (Strathairn), Best Acting Ensemble, Best Director and Best Writer. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Citybeat   6--12 Oct 2005   p. 52.
Daily Variety   8 Nov 2004.   
Daily Variety   15 Mar 2005.   
Daily Variety   24 Mar 2005.   
Daily Variety   7 Apr 2005.   
Daily Variety   2 Sep 2005.   
Entertainment Weekly   14 Oct 2005   pp. 118-19.
Entertainment Weekly   2 Dec 2005   Cover, pp. 28-33.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Nov 2004   p. 12, 100.
Hollywood Reporter   29 Mar--4 Apr 2005.   
Hollywood Reporter   26 Apr--2 May 2005.   
Hollywood Reporter   1 Jul 2005   p. 2, 22.
Hollywood Reporter   2 Sep 2005.   
Los Angeles Daily News   2 Oct 2005   Cover, pp. 4-5.
Los Angeles Times   7 Oct 2005   Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times   6 Nov 2005.   
Los Angeles Weekly   14--20 Oct 2005   Cover, pp. 31-33.
New Republic   31 Oct 2005   p. 24.
New York Times   18 Sep 2005   p. 12, 26.
New York Times   23 Sep 2005   p. 1, 19.
New Yorker   10 Oct 2005.   
Newsweek   10 Oct 2005   pp. 60-62.
Premiere   Oct 2005   p. 54, 56.
Premiere   Nov 2005.   
Screen International   9 Sep 2005.   
Sight&Sound   Nov 2005.   
Time   17 Oct 2005.   
Village Voice   5 Oct 2005   p. 32, 56.

Display Movie Summary
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
Advanced Search
Support our efforts to preserve hisotory of film
Help AFI Preserve Film History

© 2017 American Film Institute.
All rights reserved.
Terms of use.