Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Oscar-worthy performance

I went to see the Edward R. Murrow vs. Joe McCarthy film last night, at the artsy-fartsy Angelika Film Center. David Strathairn may have a lock on an Oscar for his amazing portrayal of CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow. Also, I thought it was a brilliant idea to film the movie in black-and-white, evidently so as to use newsreel footage of Joseph McCarthy instead of casting an actor in his role.

The movie is well-written, well-directed, and well-acted, but, I don't know, I guess I just didn't feel the paraonia of 1950s intellectuals about being labeled pinkos, or the wave of paranoia on which McCarthy and other red-baiters rose to prominence. There was more fear depicted with the married couple that was afraid their marriage would be discovered (against CBS policy) than there was on the editorial staff that McCarthy might falsely out them as ComSymps. I may be overstating that a little--the CBS anchorman in the movie did commit suicide, after all. Moreover, I might have been asking for more than George Clooney wanted to give me. You did want to stand and cheer when Murrow delivered his grand editorial:

We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due porcess of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another.

We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep into our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men--not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.

I don't think we're really back to anything close to that in America right now (for instance, George Clooney can say whatever he wants about the Bush Administration with impunity), but it's always refreshing to have a reminder of what the legal system of this country is all about. Also, the movie served as a reminder of the existence of liberal anti-communism in America (Murrow and JFK, for example), something that seemed to go out of style during Vietnam.

Oh yeah, family trivia--a certain first cousin of my DW's grandfather is mentioned in the first few minutes of the movie by his last name and the job he held during that period. Can anybody name that individual?

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Phoebe said...

Lois Hornsnoggle?

You make me want to rent the movie someday. Kind of. I feel like we're living in a bad movie (politics-wise) right now.

Randy said...

It's worth going to see. George Clooney has a good eye for detail, and I really did like the way he mixed in the McCarthy newsreels without being ominous about it or beating us over the head, so I look forward to seeing him direct more movies.