In the 1950s Senator Joe McCarthy began a witch hunt in Washington and Hollywood to cleanse the nation of "commie sympathizers." No one dared stand up to him for fear of being targeted themselves until journalist Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) did an expose of the senator on his television program See It Now. In doing so he risked himself the livelihoods of the reporters working for him and the reputation of CBS. The network stood behind him although very reluctantly and Morrow swayed public opinion--a landmark moment in broadcast journalism.
David Strathairn is wonderfully subtle as the legendary Murrow from small nervous facial tics as he prepares to go live on the night of his controversial broadcast to his barely concealed contempt for the puff pieces he has to do like an interview with Liberace. Patricia Clarkson and Robert Downey Jr. also do nice work as a married couple who hide their relationship since it's against company policy but their characters--and indeed all of the characters--are all very thinly sketched. The meatiest supporting role belongs to Ray Wise (Laura Palmer's crazy dad on Twin Peaks) as CBS news anchorman Don Hollenbeck who is barely hanging on after being labeled a "pinko" in the right-wing press. George Clooney as Murrow's producer Fred Friendly is low-key but still deftly funny. A number of supporting players like Tate Donovan don't have much of a chance to stand out. McCarthy himself is presented only in archival footage.
George Clooney in his second outing behind the camera is clearly going for a documentary type of feel resulting in out-of-focus shots and quick pans that often land on nothing at all. Dramatic scenes are interspersed with so much unedited archival footage that after a while it does feel like you're watching a documentary although a documentary would likely have provided more context. For some reason a jazz singer (Diane Reeves) is frequently seen performing in a studio at CBS or at a club that Murrow's staff all frequents. The musical interludes are lovely but ultimately rather pointless. You have to respect Clooney's wanting to tell this story and to tell it an unadorned non-Hollywoodized kind of way that Murrow himself would likely have approved since he didn't approve of mere "entertainment." But except in a few rare moments the film remains more of a dry history lesson than a movie in its own right.
The first wife of Robert Blake has claimed the actor tried to have her and her
new boyfriend killed following their separation in the 1970s.
In a court deposition given in a Los Angeles attorney's office in May,
Sondra Kerr Blake says several people told her Blake had taken out a "contract"
to murder her and her then lover, actor Steve Railsback.
Part of her testimony reads: "He had put a contract out on me and the other
man that I was seeing at the time."
Blake allegedly planned to blame the killings on followers of Charles Manson,
as Kerr Blake and Railsback were then filming the 1976 TV movie Helter Skelter,
about the Manson 'family'.
Kerr Blake says the Baretta star wanted them murdered in the same Los Angeles
mansion where Manson's followers slaughtered five people, including the actress
Sharon Tate, in August 1969. His intention was to make the deaths look like
retribution for filming a Manson movie, says the witness.
Kerr Blake claims she was told of Blake's plans by a friend of the actor's
manager, director Bernard Kowalski - who filmed several Baretta episodes - and
his wife Helen.
She made her statement as part of an ongoing civil case brought against Blake
by the family of his murdered second wife, Bonny Lee Bakley.
Blake was acquitted of the murder of Bakley in March, but his slain
wife's family still maintain he is guilty.
Kerr Blake was married to Blake, with whom she had two children, from 1961
until their divorce in 1983.
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