Reel American HistoryHistory on trial Main Page

AboutFilmsFor StudentsFor TeachersBibliographyResources

Films >> Good Night, and Good Luck (2005) >>

We will not walk in fear of one another.

View the trailer

Based on real-life CBS news reporter Edward R. Murrow, Good Night, and Good Luck focuses on the rampant McCarthyism that plagued the US in the 1950s. Co-written and directed by George Clooney, the film takes the audience back into the black-and-white television of the ‘50s and follows Murrow as he makes the choices of his career to end his neutral broadcasting and take a stand against Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Communist witch-hunt. Murrow (played by David Strathairn) and his producer and friend Fred Friendly (played by George Clooney) decide to take nationally public a controversial story regarding the firing of an Air Force Lieutenant suspected of Communist leanings. Although Senator McCarthy wasn’t directly involved, both Murrow and Friendly reported that the Lieutenant’s trial was a result of McCarthy’s fear and disregard for American civil liberties. CBS’s reputation floundered, yet Murrow kept pushing the envelope. He asserted that McCarthy’s tactics were in no way acceptable and that he should be publicly criticized, which he did on his news show, See it Now, on March 9, 1954. In response, McCarthy lashed out at Murrow for his “slander” and pronounced him a Communist. Murrow expected as much, for he maintained that McCarthy determined all those who dissented from him or the government members of the Communist Party. Despite the pressures Murrow’s reporting placed on CBS, he directly influenced the Senate’s decision to investigate McCarthy, and, later, his brilliance and bravery were commended and awarded.