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

0:00:29 Opening Credits and Introduction at Awards Dinner in 1958
The audience is introduced to the staff members of the CBS news as they attend a fancy awards dinner on October 25, 1958. They mingle and entertain each other while calm jazz music plays in the background. The scene in interspersed with the opening credits and title of the film.
0:02:35 Introduction to the Talented Edward R. Murrow
Sig Mickelson recounts Murrow's many accomplishments, especially those through his news broadcasting show, See It Now. Mickelson foreshadows the rest of the movie: "not the least of which, his historical fight with Senator McCarthy" (0:03:10). A shadowy Murrow appears backstage, listening to his introduction, studying his speech, and smoking his signature cigarette.
0:03:48 Murrow’s Speech on the Future of Television
Murrow comes on stage to accept his award and deliver his speech. He exclaims that "Our history will be what we make of it" (0:04:33). He reflects on the escapism and materialism of the 1950s.
0:05:25 The CBS News Studios and the Threat of Communism in America
The scene takes place at the CBS Studios in New York City on October 14, 1953. As a live jazz band sings of the popularity of television, a script scrolls over the screen describing the Communist witch-hunt of Senator McCarthy. The news crew and secretaries are busy preparing for the newscast that day.
0:06:47 Mr. and Mrs. Wershba Discuss Loyalty to America
The scene alludes to the romantic connection Joe and Shirley share. Joe shows Shirley an oath he plans to sign that proves loyalty to CBS and to America. As McCarthy hones in on the media searching for communists, the reporters for the station, including Murrow, feel that they should have everyone sign the oath. Joe is hesitant to sign it, but feels he must to avoid being fired. Shirley kisses him and tells him to sign it so that they can tell the truth.
0:08:08 The News Staff Watch a Speech by McCarthy and Discuss Ideas for Shows
The crew screens a speech by Senator McCarthy. After they've heard enough, they discuss each other's ideas for reports. Their intelligence, seriousness, and diligence as news reporters seep into their topics. The producer, Fred Friendly, listens and assesses each thoughtful and useful idea, as well as inspires his crew to go out and "make some news" (0:10:48).
0:11:03 Friendly and Murrow
The friendship between Friendly and Murrow is introduced. As the top reporter and as a friend, Murrow stays behind from the staff meeting to discuss an idea he has for a show. He distresses over the communist frenzy as he suggests a story on an Air Force Lieutenant who was found guilty and discharged, unfairly in Murrow's opinion, on suspicion of fraternizing with communists. Although McCarthy isn't directly involved, Murrow believes that his beliefs and scare tactics were involved.
0:12:11 Preparing the Story of Milo Radulovich, the discharged Lieutenant
It is now October 19, 1953, in the CBS Studios, and Murrow, Friendly, and Mickelson are screening the interview they got with Radulovich. Radulovich expresses concern that the future holds an endless cycle of fear and accusations. Mickelson is reluctant to air the story because he "can't call this a neutral piece" (0:12:59). The reputation of the reporters and of CBS will be blemished if they begin airing one-sided stories, but Murrow believes the story has no other side, no justification. Though it will cost them all significantly, the show will air.
0:15:21 Friendly Holds Off Pressure from the Air Force
Two Colonels from the Air Force meet with Friendly after they get wind of the Radulovich story. Friendly asserts that they are there to add to the story, not to approve it, and that the story will air. The Colonels urge him to reconsider as the risk runs too high.
0:16:49 Final Preparation for the Radulovich Story
October 20, 1953. The crew rush around getting the interview clips ready for airing. The story seems somewhat unprepared, and the crew mirrors it, yet Murrow is relatively calm as he studies his notes. Although he is composed and confident in his story, he knows that they are taking a giant leap and might not land.
0:19:09 The Radulovich Story on See it Now
Murrow is strong and convincing as he delivers the story and his opinions over the matter. As the interviews air, Murrow and Friendly (who is crouching under the desk) discuss his meeting with the Colonels yesterday. Murrow tells Friendly, "You always were yellow," and Friendly replies, "Better than red" (0:20:22). The scene cuts to shots of different staff viewing the report, all somber but with an air of pride. Murrow ends his story with his famous phrase, "Good night, and good luck" (0:22:48).
0:22:58 The Immediate Feelings about the Radulovich Story
Most of the crew is extremely pleased, celebrating with a huge clap of approval. On the other hand, Joe Wershba looks a bit scared and disgruntled, as does Mickelson as he walks away from the celebration. Murrow is solemnly pleased. Don Hollenbeck begins his news program. A live jazz band is featured in the end of the scene.
0:24:33 Advertisement for Kent Cigarettes
An advertisement for Kent Cigarettes describes the CBS news' audience as intelligent, with many interests, and not easily persuaded by advertising but will make the best choice regarding cigarettes, namely Kent.
0:25:23 Person to Person Program Featuring Liberace
Although Murrow talks with a seriousness and pride of a talented and intelligent news reporter, he reads from cue cards instead of instinctively knowing what to say, and he is disappointed in reporting about a performer after his breakthrough story on Radulovich. The threat of communism is replaced with the prospect of Liberace's marriage. He still ends with his signature.
0:27:16 Murrow and the Crew End the Day with Marked Disappointment
The end of this show is drastically different than after the Radulovich program. The crew quietly packs up, and only one person congratulates the show, while Murrow is left contemplating in the dark. He slowly gets up to take care of business but is in no mood to have a drink with a friend. He and Hollenbeck discuss Hollenbeck's depression and the public's perception of him, as well as the fallout of the Radulovich story.
0:29:26 Joe is Torn Between His Fear of Communism and Loyalty to Murrow
US Senate in Washington DC. As Joe Wershba rushes back to the CBS Studios, Don Surine catches up to give him some information about Murrow. He claims that Murrow is a Soviet sympathizer and hands Joe a classified folder. Joe seems contemplative and leaning to McCarthyism but refutes Don's claim because "everyone in this country knows Ed Murrow is a loyal American" (0:30:35).
0:30:58 Murrow’s Uncomfortable Meeting with Paley
Murrow meets with Paley, the corporate president of CBS, who has the sealed envelope containing the evidence to Radulovich's trial. He warns Murrow that the Air Force will attack the story, especially if Murrow's facts aren't straight, and that if they lose, the consequences could reach far and wide. Murrow tries to fight Paley on this, but Paley firmly comes down as his boss, his employer. He allows Murrow to continue if there is no risk that even one crew member has a tie to Communism. Murrow leaves the room without another word.
0:33:43 The Next Show is on Senator McCarthy
As Friendly informs the men that their next show is on McCarthy, they all look both fearful and suspicious, each contemplating the impact they will have on the show and the impact the show will have on them. Only Palmer speaks up about having any ties to the Communist Party. Murrow seems upset that they even have to go through this because intelligence and worldliness requires exploring different political theories and knowing different people, and he strongly asserts that they will do the story. As the men leave, a speech by McCarthy (mostly in the next scene) is heard in the background.
0:35:28 The Crew Busily Prepares the Show; Murrow is in the Center of it, Alone
The crew screens a speech by McCarthy and debate whether they have a legal right to air it (it was in a closed court hearing). McCarthy's speech is played behind shots of different crew members working on getting the show and various clips ready. The men are all in a room together, shouting different things to get done, as the camera zooms in on the silent and serious Murrow, in the center of it all. In the next shot, Murrow is silently typing up his report, while again the men are loud and busy around him. The camera zooms out on him working late all alone.
0:37:57 Joe and Shirley Get Ready for Work and Discuss the McCarthy Piece
The married couple gets ready for work, and Joe discusses the obvious reactions to the show (if one disagrees with McCarthy, one will love the show). He knows that they must air the show quickly before McCarthy attacks them first. Shirley admits that she is afraid of the consequences, for anyone could see the show. Before Joe leaves for the office, Shirley reminds him to take off his wedding ring.
0:39:26 Paley Finally Gives His Support
March 9, 1954. As Murrow and Friendly prepare to go on air for the show, Paley calls to offer a way out of the show. Murrow declines, "I'm a little busy bringing down the network tonight, Bill" (0:39:48). Paley, though fearful and without approval, gave his support to Murrow.
0:40:09 The Final Minutes Before the Big Show
Friendly and Murrow silently get ready for air, contrasting with the rest of the crew loudly preparing. Joe is standing back, watching. Murrow takes one last drag of his cigarette, buttons his jacket, and takes a deep breath. He knows he is making history.
0:41:04 Murrow Makes History Criticizing McCarthy on See it Now
Murrow begins his show by describing McCarthyism as essentially controversial and opening up an invitation for McCarthy to respond to Murrow's claims. Murrow compliments one of McCarthy's statements and then listens to one of his speeches. Murrow does not hold back his criticisms of McCarthy: "Often operating as a one-man committee, he has traveled far, interviewed many, terrorized some" (0:42:18). In much of the scene, McCarthy and Murrow are shown on two television screens right next to each other. The other crew members look deeply hooked to the aired interviews and the story, and prideful. Murrow demolishes McCarthy's techniques: "the line between investigating and persecuting is a fine one" (0:44:21). He ends, of course, with "Good night, and good luck" (0:45:48).
0:45:59 Crew's and Public’s Immediate Reaction
The crew is quiet when Murrow goes off air, and the audience isn't sure what to think, until Friendly and Murrow look at the silent telephones. As soon as the phones turn back on, they ring incessantly. Hollenbeck exclaims his approval on his show, and the crew clap while they clean up. Joe and Shirley exchange glances of content. Paley is sitting in the dark, listening to his unanswered phone ring. Some of the crew decides to go celebrate with a scotch.
0:47:28 Celebration
The men are laughing, drinking, and enjoying each other. Up-beat jazz music (by the live band) plays in the background. Joe and Shirley talk together off to the side.
0:48:13 Mixed Reviews, Mixed Feelings
Early in the morning, they fetch the newspapers. As they wait, the men are markedly sober and nervous. Joe and Shirley return with the reviews. The Times' Jack Gould greatly applauded Murrow's breakthrough story: "That was Mr. Murrow's and television's triumph, and a very great one" (0:49:42). Hollenbeck urges them to read O'Brian's review. He wrote that Murrow's report was extremely one-sided and selective, as well as firmly accusing Hollenbeck of being too leftist (possibly communist) and suggesting that he'll be fired soon. Hollenbeck is dejected by the review but tries to put on a smile.
0:51:57 The Public and Paley’s Reactions
A CBS employee informs Friendly that the public approved of the show. Paley gets in the elevator with Friendly, makes small talk, and tells him that McCarthy will want to rebut but it will be on Paley's terms.
0:53:01 The Effect of the McCarthy Show on Radulovich’s Discharge
A crew member runs around the office exclaiming that Radulovich has been reinstated into the Air Force, and the rest of the crew are quite happy and applaud each other on their influence and the Air Force for making the right decision. Murrow is happy but quiet again, keeping back from the loud celebration.
0:53:54 Palmer and the CBS Lawyers
Friendly tells Palmer, who is hard at work, that the CBS lawyers want to talk with him. As the camera shows him meeting with the lawyers, Friendly's voice is heard explaining that they want to investigate everyone and the best thing to do is to be honest. The testimony of a woman denying any ties to the Communist Party is heard as the scene ends.
0:54:34 Preparation of the Next Show, Annie Lee Moss’s Hearing
The crew watches testimony of a woman, Annie Lee Moss, who denies any ties (membership, subscriptions, interest, or monetary) to communism. In the middle of the screening, Palmer enters the room from his meeting with the lawyers, with fear on his face. Again, the crew discusses the matter, especially the fact that McCarthy left while the hearing was still in session, and Murrow is quiet in the background. He asks for any material on the subject. The secretary interrupts the discussion to announce that McCarthy wants to rebut Murrow's accusations on April 6th. Everyone grows silent, and the camera zooms in on Murrow.
0:56:46 What Will McCarthy Argue?
After a moment of silent thinking, the crew snaps back into action to determine the possibilities of the McCarthy rebuttal. They want the best outcome for each other and for CBS. One crew member is trying to figure out what McCarthy could say to defend himself against his own words. As they argue, Murrow calms them down and explains that McCarthy will attack him, nothing less and nothing more. Hollenbeck interrupts to get a minute with Murrow.
0:57:28 Hollenbeck asks for Help
Hollenbeck expresses that O'Brian and other critics are getting to him, tearing him down. He wants Murrow to criticize him on air, but Murrow refuses: "I will not take on McCarthy and Hearst. I can't defeat them both" (0:57:51). He urges Hollenbeck to forget about it. Interestingly, Murrow stands a great distance apart from Hollenbeck, a friend in need. Murrow apologizes and walks out without looking back. Hollenbeck is frightened and completely alone.
0:58:19 Annotating the Moss Program
This is short scene involving Murrow commentating on Annie Moss's hearing.
0:58:30 Footage of Annie Lee Moss’s Trial
McCarthy bullies the court and makes claims that might or might not be true. He seems to have already made up his mind that she is a communist. He questions how she went from being "a worker in the cafeteria to [working] in the code room" (0:59:11). She claims that her job was simple and that she did not know the classification of any of the coded messages. Shortly, McCarthy leaves and appoints a new supervisor. The accusations of Moss are backed by an undercover agent for the FBI who claimed Moss was in the Communist Party. Another committee member calls out that the evidence is not worthy of condemning Moss unless it is brought out in front of her. Applause follows him. The supervisor advises that the statement be stricken from the record. Senators argue back that it cannot be stricken and that condemning a citizen of the United States without sworn testimony is wrong.
1:02:56 Murrow’s Comment about Moss on See it Now
The shot immediately goes to Murrow's show featuring Annie Lee Moss. Murrow reiterates that the Senators were not taking a side on whether or not she was a communist. The issue, to them, was that it was not right or fair for her to be accused without facing her accusers.
1:03:09 Anxiety for the Big Show
April 6, 1954. Murrow is clearly stressed as he sits at his typewriter. He looks at the time, gets up, and walks out. His speech at the beginning of his show is heard as he walks. His voice-over explains that McCarthy took the opportunity to rebut the accusations made against him by Murrow and that he waited three weeks to prepare. Although he is still nervous, Murrow walks with a purpose down the halls.
1:03:50 See it Now on Senator McCarthy
Morrow makes clear that McCarthy has no restrictions in his reply, and that he would not comment on McCarthy's reply on that episode.
1:04:13 McCarthy’s Rebuttal
McCarthy begins by explaining the Murrow made an attack on him as chairman of the Investigating Committee and has been criticizing him for four years for "fighting communists" (1:04:34). Neither he nor Murrow are important as individuals but are important as advocates for the freedoms of America. The scene shows many civilians watching the show, concerned, including Shirley at her home (though she has a smirk on her face) and Hollenbeck in his studio. The camera scans Paley's awards and settles on him watching the show. McCarthy suggests that Murrow is a communist because he was once a member of a group that is now subversive. The shot, then, is just McCarthy. He agrees that he should not be in the Senate if he is bringing down the country, but he also asserts that Murrow (instead) is improving the enemy. He will not be defeated by Murrow or anybody else. As McCarthy finishes up, Paley leaves his office and stands in the dark and empty studio.
1:07:34 Murrow’s Response to McCarthy’s Rebuttal
The scene begins with an advertisement from Alcoa Aluminum Company of America that appeals to the common man of America. The scene directly zooms in on Murrow delivering an episode of his show, replying to McCarthy's rebuttal. He suggests that he did not make any errors in judging McCarthy the first time, on March 9, and that McCarthy did not actually rebut. He merely created his own arguments against Murrow. Furthermore, "he proved again that anyone who exposes him, anyone who does not share his hysterical disregard for decency and human dignity and the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, must be either a communist or a fellow traveler" (1:08:36). Murrow, then, refutes many claims that McCarthy made against him, for McCarthy gave no proof to his claims. He states that he has always searched for the truth to report to America. He ends with his signature and the lights dim. He takes a big breath.
1:11:12 Critic’s Opinion of McCarthy versus Murrow, and a Terrible Tragedy
The crew reads a review by Jack Gould of the Times of the argument, favoring Murrow as the clear victor with cunning intelligence and wit. One crew member comes in and claims that McCarthy is going to be investigated by the Senate, effectively stopping conversation. The cheer continued, however, as the men realized their enormous impact on society. Shirley walks in to find out all the commotion. She smiles but does not seem as happy as the others as she looks at Joe. They all joke about McCarthy's cowardice when Friendly receives a call. The others don't hush but slowly get up to leave. After the call, Friendly is left with Murrow and whispers something in his ear. They both look stunned and deeply saddened.
1:12:54 Don Hollenbeck’s Obituary
The jazz band is shown playing a slow, sad song about life after death. Joe comes on screen reading Hollenbeck's obituary, death by suicide. Then Hollenbeck is shown in his house, turning on the gas to his oven and opening it fully (with both Joe's reading and the jazz music in the background). The obituary still maintains that Hollenbeck slanted the news left, and that CBS does not qualify anymore as a legitimate news source. Obviously, the obituary was written by Jack O'Brian. Hollenbeck is sitting on his sofa watching television, killing himself. He is heartbroken. The next shot is Murrow slowly and sadly walking in the studio, watching the jazz band. Friendly is shown explaining the situation to the some of the other crew members. Murrow finishes a cigarette, depressed.
1:15:17 Hollenbeck’s Obituary on See it Now
The crew watches as Murrow explains the terrible sadness of Hollenbeck's death, for he was a good, honest reporter. He claimed that Hollenbeck was sick lately, which he was, of heartbreak and loneliness. The police and the obituary were both brief and honest, what Hollenbeck would have wanted. During his signature this time, Murrow looks down and not into the camera as he says, "Good luck," (1:15:53). Joe closes himself because it seems too much for him to handle.
1:16:01 Joe and Shirley Can’t Sleep; Joe’s Scared
Joe and Shirley lie in bed, unable to sleep, and talk to each other. Joe has to leave early in the morning to go to Philadelphia for work. He wonders if they are wrong, protecting the wrong side (1:16:34). Shirley doesn't think they are wrong because she doesn't really see them as protecting anybody. Joe points that an argument could be made against them for the greater good, which includes most people in the country who feel persecuted by McCarthy. Shirley dismisses the argument quickly, and Joe retreats from his feelings.
1:17:02 Footage of the Army-McCarthy Hearings
Footage is shown of the hearings, in which the leader condemns McCarthy for having "no sense of decency" (1:17:27). The scene pans from the footage to the CBS news studio and to the back of Murrow during his show. Murrow is trying to concentrate on the hearing, but he is interviewing people, whom he finds much less interesting, for a Person to Person.
1:18:14 Joe and Shirley are Married, Against CBS Rules
Mickelson calls both Shirley and Joe into his office. He asks them to close the door and have a seat with his smile on his face, but the other two know that this cannot be good. Shirley tightens her lips and cannot look at Mickelson for too long. When he acknowledges their marriage, they both stare at him, all too knowingly. Mickelson asks them to quit so that he does not have to fire them or anyone else (due to cutbacks) in the near future. He leaves them both in the office to think it over. Joe agrees to quit, they immediately put on their wedding rings, and walk out with their dignity and their love for each other.
1:20:17 The End of See it Now
Murrow is walking in the hallway for CBS Studios because Paley asked to see both him and Friendly in his office. As they see each other waiting, they know it doesn't bode well. Paley asserts that See it Now is on a downfall and losing money, on top of losing its sponsor Alcoa. Furthermore, Paley claims that people are watching the news less because they want more entertainment. Paley cautions him; Murrow will not relent. Arguing is getting them nowhere, however, so Paley tells them, without firing them, that they have five one-hour episodes left, to air on Sunday afternoons. Angry and upset, Murrow gets up to leave, foreboding episodes of controversy. He waits for Friendly, agreeing to do the first show on the downfall of television, discussing McCarthy's upcoming censure, and vowing to fight all the way down. As they leave, the camera focuses on a broadcast of how Americans are intelligent and brave.
1:25:34 Murrow Finishes his Speech on the Future of Television
It is the October 25, 1958, award ceremony for Murrow again, and he is finishing his speech. He reiterates that we make our own history but without studying the realities of our world (the history we make) we will condemn ourselves. Investigating world affairs will only make us more knowledgeable. If television does not provide that investigation but only entertainment, then Murrow believes it will die and "the struggle will be lost" (1:26:59). We must make use of the powers of television in order to illuminate ourselves. Of course, he ends with "Good night, and good luck" (1:27:23). He walks off, and the screen goes blank.