REWIND: Inspired by George Clooney and Warren Beatty.


The original title of the following essay was: George Clooney’s “Good Night, and Good Luck” will lure NA Confidential to the multiplex.

On 10/13/05, I vowed to obtain a DVD of the movie “Reds.” It never happened, but this weekend we’re watching it courtesy of Netflix. This inspired me to search the NAC archives, hence today’s reprint. Eventually we saw Clooney’s paean to Edward R. Murrow, and my recap can be read here: Drop everything you’re doing and go see Good Night, and Good Luck.

Meanwhile, the experience of watching “Reds” again after so long has been inspiring, and I recommend it to readers. Speaking of Reds, in this case the Cincinnati variety, we’re off today to watch the home team play the Red Sox. I’ll have a tankard for you at the Hofbrauhaus in Newport … and contemplate the New Albanian revolution.

On average, NA Confidential views one film every two weeks.

Recent choices have included the documentary “When We Were Kings,” foreign films “The Dreamers,” “Goodbye, Lenin,” and “Colonel Redl,” and “Beyond the Sea,” Kevin Spacey’s bizarre paean to the singer Bobby Darin.

“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” fell into the play list somehow, and although it was amusing, one cannot do justice to the concept without explaining exactly why travelers must carry a towel.

To be truthful, if it were not for the convenient “order history” feature at, it would have been difficult to compile the preceding list.

When it is suggested that I accompany Mrs. Confidential to an actual movie theater, my astonished reaction invariably apes that of fictional detective Nero Wolfe’s annoyance at being asked to walk from his brownstone out onto the street.

“Out there? To the theater?

Merry disclaimers aside, when the opportunity to see George Clooney’s “Good Night, and Good Luck” comes around, I’ll not only go to the theater to see it, but I’ll offer to drive.

That’ll confuse her.

The movie is reviewed in the current issue of Rolling Stone, and here are excerpts.

Does George Clooney have a box-office death wish? You have to wonder why the star of Ocean’s Eleven would risk his standing as a pinup for ka-ching to direct, co-write and co-star in a movie set in the 1950s, shot in black-and-white and focused on a fifty-year-old battle between TV newsman Edward R. Murrow, indelibly played by David Strathairn, and the Commie-hunting Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

Wonder no more. Clooney knows exactly what he’s doing: blowing the dust off ancient TV history to expose today’s fat, complacent news media as even more ready to bow to networks, sponsors and the White House. As Murrow said in a 1958 speech, which frames Clooney’s dynamite film, the powers that be much prefer TV as an instrument to “distract, delude, amuse and insulate.” Challenge is a loser’s game …

… For a paltry $8 million, Clooney has crafted a period piece that speaks potently to a here-and-now when constitutional rights are being threatened in the name of the Patriot Act, and the American media trade in truth for access.

Obviously, the subject matter of Clooney’s film is a fastball in NA Confidential’s socio-political wheelhouse.

Journalist Edward R. Murrow was referring to the McCarthyism of the 1950’s when he said, “We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason,” but I’m certain that he’d have no objection to my applying this sentiment to the vacuous populism of New Albany’s Siamese Councilman, Dan Coffey & Steve Price — but where’s the Tribune’s Murrow when we need him?

Besides that, it’s always enjoyable to view the reaction when handsome Hollywood idols turn inexplicably subversive and craft important films about genuinely significant historical topics.

In 1981, at the height of the Reagan Revolution, Warren Beatty completed and released “Reds,” a three and a half hour dramatization of leftist American journalist John Reed’s life and times during the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and the subsequent red baiting of the post-Great War era.

A quarter century later, “Reds” remains a great favorite, but my elderly videotape is shot, and a replacement DVD purchase looms.

Murrow said, “Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts.”

He might have added, “especially when it comes to ideas.”

Ideas are the currency and the lifeblood of progress, and proliferate when the human mind is challenged and stimulated – by conversation, reading, playing … and sometimes even watching movies.

Next up for Clooney: Ocean’s 13, in which he leads the gang to New Albany to help UCM Price uncover those missing nickels and dimes, because as you know, nickels and dimes add up … to inanity.