Review Date: February 17, 2006
Director: George Clooney
Writer: George Clooney, Grant Heslov
Producers: Grant Heslov
David Strathairn as Edward R. Murrow
George Clooney as Fred
Robert Downey Jr. as Joe
That said, I’m always up for a good ol’ yarn about the “crappy old days”, but this one just didn’t pull me in as much as I thought it would, especially with its tight quarters and (apparent) specific depictions of what had gone down. As anyone knows by now, the vilified Senator McCarthy shows up throughout the movie as himself—via actual footage from the day. Again, this was “interesting” for a while, but I knew where it was all going, and I got the point pretty early, so the rest of the time I was simply trying to figure out why they intercut certain scenes with an impressive jazz songstress belting out tunes (to pad up the film’s runtime?) or why the Robert Downey Jr. subplot with Patricia Clarkson was in the film to begin with (again, to pad up the film’s runtime?). With those two seemingly superfluous items included in the movie, it still only ran about 87 minutes, with much of that featuring back-door jabbering amongst the newsmen, footage of McCarthy bitching about someone or another and Murrow’s lengthy one-shot rebuttals. I certainly didn’t dislike this movie, but I guess I wasn’t as impressed as I wanted to be. That said, David Straitharn certainly delivered in the acting category, as did Frank Langella and the great Ray Wise, both of whom haven’t been propped enough, and Clooney also impressed as a director with everything from the film’s look to its use of music (yeah, despite the fact that it felt padded…it was still good music) to its pacing, coming through gangbusters.
Feeling more like a documentary that one oughta sit through if they’re entirely ignorant about the whole McCarthy scandal from the 50s, I certainly can’t recommend this to everyone – especially those who don’t care for “talking heads” movies – but if you enjoy that sort of thing, this one makes its points, short and sweet, and looks good, while doing so. For me, a marginal thumbs up, as Roger Ebert would say. PS: Hey Clooney, how about tossing some screen-cards up in the end, so that we know what happened to all of the film’s principals after all was said and done?