Script: George Clooney, Grant Heslov
Cast: David Strathairn, Frank Langella, Jeff Daniels, Patricia Clarkson, Ray Wise, Robert Downey Jr.
Rated : 7 Stars
It is the 1950’s, and McCarthyism is rife in America as the hunt for reds under bed trundles on.
In CBS Ed McMurrow begins to highlight McCarthy’s scare tactics and methods on his current affairs television show. The film is told both by the actors and by actual footage from the time. We get to see McCarthy, to hear his own words, and see the scaremongering of the time.
Shot in black and white it all looks great, but the film itself was simply too subdued to grab my attention. I have a feeling that this may be because of the mood I was in while watching it, but the low-key nature of everything simply served distance me as a viewer from what was going on. I also didn’t like the way the film seemed to stop every now and then to let us hear a song. There were maybe three of four from Dianne Reeves. They did sound lovely, and helped to create an atmosphere, but I just felt that they slowed the film down.
Despite these few problems this is a film worth watching. Strathairn is fantastic as McMorrow, and all the supporting cast do great jobs.
It also performs very neatly at alerting us to the present day situation, and how we can learn for the past. Yet at the same time there is no sense that this is hitting anyone over the head. You can see lessons for today if you wish, but no one is forcing you.