Nearly flawless portrayals and script combine with smoky black and white shooting to transport you back to the McCarthy era, where television newsman Edward R. Murrow (Strathairn) faces off with Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee. Murrow is pressured to back down, but he and CBS staff are intent on exposing McCarthy's fear-based witch-hunt for communist activity. McCarthy plays his own role by way of archival footage; performances by Jeff Daniels and Robert Downey Jr. don't disappoint. A labor of love for George Clooney, he co-wrote and directed, and plays Fred Friendly, Murrow's producer at CBS. Though spare, the dialogue and acting create a scene and mood that, whether you remember the era or not, makes it completely real and utterly believable.
A terrific film!!!! Alan-Gekko at 2011-07-11 22:51:30
This film was a real treat, with Strathairn's dead-on performance as legendary journalist Edward R. Murrow a sure bet for at least an Oscar nomination. Perhaps the best decision by writer-director George Clooney was to cast no one in the role of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Instead, Clooney uses actual footage of McCarthy in the HUAC hearings and press conferences. Movies based on actual historical events often sensationalize events, but the extensive use of documentary footage brings home the reality of this movie's story line.
In addition to Strathairn's best performance to date, the entire cast delivers, from Clooney himself as Murrow's producer Fred Friendly, to Frank Langella as CBS chairman William Paley, to Ray Wise as the insecure anchorman Don Hollenbeck. If there is a weak point in the cast, it is Jeff Daniels, who was given little to do in the role of news director Sig Mickelson and did little with it.
As most people today are acquainted with the 1950s through black-and-white images, the decision to film in black-and-white also feels appropriate, and helps the documentary footage to blend in seamlessly with the filmed actors. I strongly recommend this film to those who lived through the McCarthy era and to those, such as myself, who only have witnessed it in the rear view mirror.