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Beck, Bernard. "Inspired by a True Story: Good Night, and Good Luck and Why We Need It." Multicultural Perspectives 8.3 (2006): 26-29.
Beck highlights the detail used by Clooney to emphasize the distance in time since the historical period, in particular the use of black and white to mirror "the appearance of television news in those days." Further, Beck touches upon typical patriotic films and specifically how this film differs from normal movies of that genre. Typically, Beck contends, patriotic films praise our free institutions and the need of citizens to protect them. Clooney's film does both; however, Beck argues that it likewise hints that America is failing in this struggle.
Bryson, Lyman, and Edward R. Murrow. "You and Television." Hollywood Quarterly 4.2 (1949): 178-81.
This is an excerpt from an interview between CBS correspondents Bryson and Murrow about the news media's future in television. Murrow asserts that television will diminish the effectiveness and credibility of news broadcasting because "finding either pictorial or animated material to support or sustain the news broadcast is emphasized at the expense of sound news judgment and therefore that television is in some danger of failing to present the news fully and in perspective" (178). Both Bryson and Murrow saw in that beginning stage of television the possibility for false broadcasting and distortion of pictures. This article provides a background to Murrow's style of television news broadcasting and to the movie. Interestingly, Murrow thought that "television is not going to change political fortunes, political oratory, or voting very much" (179). As the potential of television became more apparent through the years, Murrow must have changed his views because he used television to openly and honestly criticize Senator Joseph McCarthy and to persuade viewers of McCarthy's disregard for individual rights. This article can be compared with the speech Murrow gave on television that bookends the film.
Friendly, Fred W. Due to circumstances beyond our control .... New York: Random House, 1967.
Friendly was Murrow's producer and friend, and this book is one of the sources of the film script.
Jaafar, Ali. "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind: Interview." Sight and Sound 16.3 (2006): 14-20.
Jaafar sits down with Clooney to discuss his two latest films, Syriana and Good Night, and Good Luck, both of which tackle serious political issues throughout our past and present history. The author prefaces the interview by commending Clooney for his boldness in addressing more meaningful material in his films than most Hollywood filmmakers. During the interview, Clooney speaks of the necessity in making a film such as Good Night, and Good Luck, noting its relevance to the present, especially in the wake of the Guantanamo Bay scandal. The filmmaker notes, "We must maintain the right to face our accuser. We must defend the idea that dissent is not disloyalty." Clooney also speaks of the influence provided by his father, a news anchorman who enlightened him about Murrow and the principles he stood for. For the actor-filmmaker, Good Night, and Good Luck is admittedly more about paying homage to the bravery and morality of such journalists as Murrow (and Clooney's father) than generating large profits. Films, Clooney concludes, should reflect society and its important issues.
Monetti, Sandro. "George Clooney for President?" Sunday Express 17 Feb. 2008: 62.
Monetti explores the popular rumor that George Clooney will eventually run for a political office. Though Clooney dismisses the idea because he has too much party and scandal in his background, many feel that he would be a great Democratic candidate for the California governor position that is opening up soon. In the past decade, he has become very vociferous about the corruption and problems caused by the Bush administration and about the environment. It is unmistakable that Clooney adds "charisma, communication skills, and commitment to good causes" to the political arena so that he has become "a force to be reckoned with in politics."
O'Connor, John E. "Murrow Confronts McCarthy: Two Stages of Historical Analysis for Film and Television." Celluloid Blackboard: Teaching History with Film. Ed. Alan S. Marcus. Charlotte: Information Age Publishing, 2007. 17-39.
O'Connor has created two different rubrics with which to analyze film. The first rubric includes the content, production, and reception of the film, and the second rubric assesses the film with relation to history. O'Connor studies both Murrow's "See it Now: A Report on Senator McCarthy" and Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck. Regarding the episode of See it Now, O'Connor breaks down the report in his first analysis and argues that it loses some credibility historically because it is obvious that the reporters manipulated and edited the footage of McCarthy to make their own point: "[the cutaway edits] also may have helped to focus on certain aspects of what McCarthy had to say—perhaps to be sure to highlight his silly little laugh and his embarrassing emotionalism" (33). O'Connor's analysis of Good Night, and Good Luck finds the film focuses on the same issues as the report (in fact, the report was included in the film), but it is also wider in scope, characterizing the people involved, etc. Furthermore, O'Connor finds that "a half-century later George Clooney and his associates thought the time was ripe for a retelling of the story—actually the first complete telling of the story on the large screen. The response of reviewers and the lines [of movie-goers]…suggests that they were correct" (31).
Paye, Jean-Claude. "A Permanent State of Emergency." Monthly Review 58.6 (2006): 29-37.
Paye describes the intricacies of the renewed Patriot Act and its societal consequences. After 9/11, terrorism was (rightfully) feared, and hysteria and paranoia spread throughout the country, much like the Cold War period and the fear of communism. The fear, however, has taken a disturbing turn to where your appearance or cultural identity can be cause for seizure and imprisonment without a fair trial. Furthermore, the Patriot Act oversteps civil liberties to supervise the public, to make sure there are no terrorists infiltrating the government. The Patriot Act and the Bush Administration's anti-terrorism are mirroring much of Senator McCarthy's anti-communist tactics, which is why Clooney decided on the subject of Murrow for his film. The most frightening aspect of the renewed Patriot Act is that "the measures most threatening to individual and collective liberties… were extended, without any controls over their area of application" (31).
Pfiffner, James P. "The Contemporary Presidency--Constraining Executive Power: George W. Bush and the Constitution." Presidential Studies Quarterly 38.1 (2008): 123-43.
Pfiffner delves into the ways in which George W. Bush stepped over the Constitution in the name of protecting the country against terrorists. First of all, Bush and his Vice President Dick Cheney tried to legalize the use of torture on the prisoners of war and detainees suspected of belonging to a terrorist group. The prisoners were afforded no due process of law and could be tortured for information; Bush even dismissed the Geneva Convention because he felt it wasn't applicable to the situation. More applicable to the film Good Night, and Good Luck is his disregard for the right of privacy of the citizens. He secretly monitored phone calls and internet usage of foreigners and citizens suspected of terrorist information, even though the Constitution protects the right to privacy of its citizens. Pfiffner describes the situation: "It is not as though President Bush did not have the means to undertake NSA spying within the law" (134). He then lists options Bush could have taken to legalize the surveillance, and he sums up: "But President Bush did none of these things; instead, he secretly ordered the NSA to conduct the surveillance and, when his actions were disclosed, he asserted that he had the constitutional authority to ignore the law" (134).
Reeves, Thomas C. "The Search for Joe McCarthy." Wisconsin Magazine of History 60.3 (1977): 185-96.
Though this article is a bit dated now, Reeves considers why there has been little or no meaningful and truthful historical documentation on Senator Joseph McCarthy. He asserts that all historians have followed the liberal example and characterized him as "amoral, insensitive, foolish, dangerous, cruel, reckless, sadistic, even fiendish" and not possessing "charm, wit, and intellect" (188). Another reason for the scarce material on the actual man is that McCarthy's family and friends have not cooperated with nonfiction writers and historians. Though opening up may clear up the falsities, the family has often kept to themselves and they have negative opinions about historians, including Reeves. Even today, over thirty years after Reeves' article, McCarthy remains a man shrouded in mystery and deemed a terrible man who stood for anti-American values, which Good Night, and Good Luck portrays. The film does not build McCarthy as a full character and person and has been criticized for its portrayal of McCarthy as simply an evil demagogue who was defeated by the good Murrow.
Richter, David H. "Keeping Company in Hollywood: Ethical Issues in Nonfiction Film." Narrative 15.2 (2007): 140-66.
Richter introduces very interesting ethical issues that he applies to an analysis of Good Night, and Good Luck. Following a teacher of his, Wayne Booth, who asserted the ethical possibilities in fiction, Richter applies Booth's principles to an analysis of nonfiction and historical film. He argues that there are four ethical principles from which historical films can be assessed: ethics of rhetorical purpose ("the end or effect elicited or demanded of us by the film"), ethics of the told ("the agents in the film, their actions, choices, and thoughts"), ethics of the telling ("narrative technique…the ethical consequences of decisions made about how to convey a particular story"), and ethics of film (141). In Good Night, and Good Luck, the film warps time and events. Furthermore, Richter finds that the movie exaggerates the historical story; it was not the case that Murrow solely took on the all-powerful McCarthy. He brilliantly asserts, "George Clooney's film reduces to a duel what was clearly a much more complex historical process. Even in that duel, the two sides should not be thought of as a lone knight and a dragon or as David and Goliath" (145). Richter sees, however, the contemporary political point that Clooney was making in the film: "Clooney's film seemed to have been aimed as much at the Washington journalists today…journalists whose desire for ‘access' to secret sources of information allowed the Bush administration to manipulate the news as well as stifle any serious investigation of its activities," (146). Good Night, and Good Luck is not necessarily an unethical film, but Clooney risked ethicality for political statement.
Rosteck, Thomas. "Irony, Argument, and Reportage in Television Documentary: See it Now Versus Senator McCarthy." Quarterly Journal of Speech 9 (Aug. 1989): 277-98.
Rosteck argues that, although many praised Murrow for the See it Now episode on Senator McCarthy, others question its objectivity. For example, Rosteck claims that "‘A Report on Senator McCarthy' is often cited as a failure. For instance, one study concludes that the program compromised the Senator in its form and its content, and so was ‘unfair;' another, based on interviews with the principles, asserts that Murrow and Friendly never intended to be ‘objective'" (278). Furthermore, Murrow showed bias in his tone of speech; he often used sarcasm and satire to mock McCarthy and prove McCarthy's wrongdoings. Moreover, Rosteck urges the public to examine the text of the broadcast because "I have argued for a reading of the text ‘against' its traditional classification as a ‘news report.' Instead ‘A Report on Senator McCarthy' more properly belongs to another genre—the public accusation" (294). Though a brilliant news program, Rosteck argues that it was not just a news program, that through his speech and rhetoric Murrow intended the broadcast to be so much more. Clooney seems to agree, as he applies Murrow's words and tone to the today's political world.
Rothschild, Nathalie. "Spare us the Hollywood Luvvies with a Conscience." London Times 17 Oct. 2007: 15.
Rothschild takes an opposite look at Clooney's new political agenda and other politically-motivated movies. She condemns the films for substituting character and plot development for the moral message. She criticizes Clooney's view on Darfur: "Let's consider Clooney's insight on the matter: ‘It's not a political issue. There is only right or wrong.' Gee, thanks—but for the record, adults can deal with the Technicolor complexity of politics and leave the black-and-white morality tales to the kiddies." Rothschild argues that the film festivals should go back to focusing on good cinema and to leave the politics out of it.
Sheehan, Paul. "Always a Moral to Clooney's Story." Sydney Morning Herald 29 Oct. 2007: 13.
A short Opinion article complimenting Clooney for his courage to take a stand against the Bush administration and "the excesses of American corporate fundamentalism." Sheehan finds that Clooney uses films to push his political agenda, an interesting and successful way to get his opinions out.
Stockwell, Anne. "Clooney Versus the Far Right." The Advocate 952 (2005): 53-57.
Stockwell interviews Clooney on his politics and his movie. Stockwell notices the gay subtext of the film: Ray Cohn, McCarthy's right-hand man was a closeted homophobe. She also argues that "everything that's most appealing about Clooney comes together in this pared-down, black-and-white trip back in time." The most interesting part of the interview is Clooney's responses because he gives readers an inside into his view on politics. Clooney admits, "I've been a big old liberal my whole life, and I'm hard-pressed to find when [liberals] have been on the wrong side of social issues—to lose the moral argument." He argues that he does pose this movie as Democrats versus Republicans. It is merely supposed to urge reflection, to provoke discussion, which is in fact what Murrow called for in his infamous broadcast. Clooney made the film now because it is "about bringing up the debate and discussing the use of fear to erode civil liberties."
Teachout, Terry. "Journalism, Hollywood Style." Commentary 120.5 (2005): 69-72.
A comparative article, Teachout highlights the differences between two journalistic films, Good Night, and Good Luck and Capote. The author spends much of his article praising Capote and the cinematic achievements that he feels it possesses over Clooney's film on journalism in the McCarthy era. Teachout feels that Good Night, and Good Luck fails to acknowledge numerous important aspects of the historic event, including Murrow's doubts in his attack against McCarthy and the reality that Soviet spies did successfully infiltrate the U.S. government. Teachout continues to expose various other facts and elements that Clooney chose to exclude from his film before ultimately concluding that the filmmaker's unwillingness to acknowledge such facts prevents Good Night, and Good Luck from being taken seriously as a "historically informed portrayal."
Wershba, Joseph and Shirley. Papers. Archival material at the University of Texas, Austin.
"Audio tapes, videocassettes, correspondence, transcripts, printed material, newspaper clippings, notes, scripts and drafts, photographs, motion picture film, press releases, research material, and ephemera document Joseph and Shirley Wershba's careers in broadcast news. The material reflects events and political and social issues in the United States between 1936 and 1993. Much of the collection consists of the Wershbas' program files relating to stories they were producing. Among the many prominent twentieth century figures represented are Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy. Persons who had a significant impact on the development of broadcast news are included, in particular Edward R. Murrow. Other persons associated with the collection include John Henry Faulk, Walter Cronkite, and Lyndon B. Johnson." The Wershba Papers were one source for the movie script.

See Also

Carroll, Rebecca. "David Strathairn." Independent: A Magazine For Video And Filmmakers 28.9 (2005): 28-31.

Chamberlin, Carloss James. "The Kinescope as Mirror: George Clooney Slyly Bites the Hand That Feeds Him." Senses of Cinema: An Online Film Journal Devoted to the Serious and Eclectic Discussion of Cinema 40 (2006): (no pagination).

Cole, Jonathan R. "Academic Freedom Under Fire." Daedalus 134.2 (2005): 5-17.

Cox, Michael. "Film Readings - Good Night, and Good Luck." Millennium 35.2 (2006): 435-37.

Fuller, Graham. "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind." Sight and Sound 16.3 (2006): 14-16.

Kellner, Douglas. "Bushspeak and the Politics of Lying: Presidential Rhetoric in the 'War on Terror.'" Presidential Studies Quarterly 37.4 (2007): 622-45.

Krohn, Bill, and Charlotte Garson. "Clooney: Urgences Politiques." Cahiers Du Cinéma 608 (2006): 29.

Lippe, Richard. "Good Night, and Good Luck: History Replays Itself." CineAction 70 (2006): 70-72.

Nitzsche, Sina. "'The Tube Is Flickering Now': Aesthetics Of Authenticity in Good Night, And Good Luck." COPAS: Current Objectives Of Postgraduate American Studies 8 (2007).

Rollins, Peter C. The Columbia Companion to American History on Film: How the Movies Have Portrayed the American Past. New York: Columbia UP, 2003.

Schopp, Andrew. "Interrogating the Manipulation of Fear: V For Vendetta, Batman Begins, Good Night, And Good Luck, and America's 'War On Terror'." The War on Terror and American Popular Culture: September 11 and Beyond. Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2009. 259-86.

Ward, Malvin. "Shootout at the Beverly Hills Corral: Edward R. Murrow Versus Hollywood." Journal of Popular Film and Television 19.3 (1991): 138-40.

Wieder, Thomas. "Murrow contre McCarthy." Cahiers Du Cinéma 608 (2006): 30.

Video/Audio Resources

Complete Murrow Speech from Good Night, and Good Luck
The complete speech given by Murrow on the future of television from Good Night, and Good Luck (the speech is in two parts and bookends the film).
Good Night, and Good Luck (2005) Trailer
The theatrical trailer for the film is much more dramatic and suspenseful than the film itself. The production company must have been trying to reel people in to see the film. Furthermore, the trailer openly hints at the connection with the Bush administration and the Iraq War. It is supposed to lure in those who oppose Bush and the war.
"McCarthy-Welch Exchange." American Rhetoric: Online Speech Bank.
The complete audio and transcript of the June 9, 1954, section of the Army-McCarthy hearings. The Army was attempting to censure Senator McCarthy and Joseph Welch, the Army attorney, effectively put the last nail in McCarthy's coffin. During the proceedings, Welch got so heated that he famously accused McCarthy: "You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?" A comparison can be done between the entire transcript and the Key Passages of the film.
Murrow on Freedom of Speech
From the film, the end of Murrow's speech from "See it Now: A Report on Senator McCarthy" urging American citizens to speak up to protect their rights.
Murrow, Edward R. "Response to Senator Joe McCarthy on CBS' See it Now." American Rhetoric: Online Speech Bank.
The entire video and text of Murrow's April 13, 1954, See it Now episode responding to Senator McCarthy's accusations of Murrow on his afforded episode of See it Now. A comparison of this transcript and the Good Night, and Good Luck key passages shows which points screenwriters George Clooney and Grant Heslov thought most important and most applicable for a film of the subject made in 2005.
Reel Journalism: 'Good Night and Good Luck' Part 2 (George Clooney)
An part of an interview with George Clooney regarding the accuracy of the film. Clooney says that he did a great amount of research to be able to make the film correctly because he knew that critics were after him. He believed that, to get his intention of an analogy with today's political culture through to the audience, the film would have to be historically accurate to be credible.

Online Resources

Edelman, Rob. "George Clooney." Film Reference.
Facts and brief analysis of Clooney's career.

Faucette, Brian. "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Good Night And Good Luck: George Clooney On U.S. Television, History, And Politics." Jump Cut: A Review Of Contemporary Media 50 (2008).

Hochscherf, Tobias, and Christoph Laucht. "Controversial Films. Good Night, and Good Luck." Film and History.
In one of the main journals in this field, Hochscherf and Laucht analyze Good Night, and Good Luck in two ways: in regard to its historical accuracy and in regard to its analogy with the contemporary political situation. They argue that the film lacks historical accuracy because of its narrow focus, that the film substitutes contextualizing the full breadth of the fear of communism in America with focusing on only one event regarding McCarthy: "The narrow focus of the film simplifies a rather complex era and the personnel involved." Furthermore, they feel that the film does not make any explicit references to criticizing the Bush administration, despite Clooney's open liberalness. Good Night, and Good Luck leaves it to the audience to form the analogy between McCarthy's anti-communism and Bush's anti-terrorism. Once the thought is planted, however, the film gathers new meaning.
The Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture
The mission of the Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture, a project of The Norman Lear Center at USC Annenberg, is to investigate and analyze, through research and publication, the conflicting images of the journalist in film, television, radio, fiction, commercials, cartoons, comic books, music, art, demonstrating their impact on the American public's perception of newsgatherers."
McCarthy, Joseph R. "Senator Joseph R. McCarthy: Reply to Edward R. Murrow 'See it Now' (CBS-TV, April 6, 1954)." Media Resources Center: Library of University of California, Berkeley.
The entire transcript from the April 6, 1954, episode of See it Now in which Senator McCarthy was given the time to respond to the criticisms of Murrow from the March 9, 1954, episode. In his response, McCarthy accused Murrow of being subversive more than he disputed the points Murrow had made about his methods. Clooney only used a part of the entire broadcast, as is evident in the Key Passages.
Murrow, Edward R. "See it Now: 'A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy." The Beat Begins: America in the 1950s. HONR269J. [Archived]
The entire historic See it Now broadcast criticizing Senator McCarthy and his methods. By comparing this transcript with the Good Night, and Good Luck key passages, the audience can see which parts of the speech screenwriters George Clooney and Grant Heslov chose to include in the film. Most of the passages chosen can be applied to today's political society.

Shafer, Jack. "Good Night, and Good Luck and bad history" (part 1). Slate 5 October 2005.

Shafer, Jack. "Good Night, and Good Luck and bad history" (part 2). Slate 5 October 2005.