Precisely every 23 minutes, the standard length of a half-hour of broadcast network television, Good Night, and Good Luck. is interrupted by a jazz song. This instills George Clooney’s Red Scare historical drama with a distinctly episodic feel, mirroring the drama that unfolds on screen. The story follows newscaster Edward R. Murrow as he and others at CBS confront Senator Joseph McCarthy at the height of his anti-communist witch hunts. Shot in color but corrected to black-and-white, the film returns us to another time where paranoia ruled the nation, and where men capable of capitalizing on it rose to national prominence by fanning the fear. It also offers a biting condemnation of media outlets in general, and especially the corporate nature of television broadcasts.
Here in Madison, Wisconsin, the Overture Performing Arts Center screens silent movies with live accompaniment from an organist as part of a program they call, “Duck Soup Cinema”. On April 18th, I had the pleasure of watching Buster Keaton’s, The General in this setting, and it was one of the more fun movie-going experiences I have had in a long time. We were fortunate to experience this film at the hands of Mr. Dennis James, an accomplished organist and lover of silent film.