Golly, would you look at all these gongs? George Clooney's recreation of the televised battle between journalist Edward Murrow (David Strathairn) and the fear-mongering senator Joseph McCarthy has been feted with so many awards and nominations that its narrow shoulders are quaking beneath such grandeur. Good Night, And Good Luck. is a clever, quietly spoken little movie and a great pleasure to watch. But it owes much of its success to the supreme relevance of its ideas.
Shot in luminous black and white and largely confined to the TV studios from which Murrow addressed the nation, Good Night is a labour of love for its director. Clooney is evidently crazy about the 50s: the style, the cigarettes (everyone smokes like mad) and the pervading sense that a handful of intelligent grown-ups can change the world. In this, it resembles Robert Redford's much underrated Quiz Show, another period piece that draws uncomfortable parallels between politics and television.
In this case though, TV is the hero rather than the bogeyman, as Murrow and his journalist mates (among them Clooney himself, playing the memorably named Fred Friendly) challenge McCarthy's anti-Communist witchhunts in a series of increasingly brutal spoken editorials.
Good Night concentrates on telling its story as economically as possible without preaching. That's an admirable position to take - aren't we all sick of being lectured by Hollywood? - but at a mere 93 minutes (a good quarter of which is 50s stock footage) the material feels stretched. It's clever and good-looking, sure, but you might find yourself wondering what the fuss is about.