Truth and Movies

Good Night, and Good Luck will tread the boards with a stage adaptation

Bridge of Spies scribe Matt Charman will adapt the screenplay about Red Scare paranoia.

Words

Charles Bramesco

@intothecrevasse

Movies and the stage have always had a freely incestuous relationship, a robust mutual interchange that’s yielded everything from Mike Nichols’ brilliant take on Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? to the Hairspray musical. In recent years, this appears to have proliferated; stroll down Broadway and it’s all Beetlejuice this and Mean Girls that, well-known properties easily translated to guaranteed ticket sales on name recognition alone.

That won’t be changing any time soon, based on The Hollywood Reporter’s announcement that yet another Hollywood production will soon get a second life before the footlights. A play based on George Clooney’s period piece Good Night, and Good Luck will open at Chicago’s legendary Steppenwolf Theatre Company later this year, arriving at a time with newfound political resonance.

The 2005 film tracked the dogged efforts of newsman and national conscience Edward R Murrow to provide a check to the runaway powers of Joseph McCarthy and his House Un-American Activities Committee during the 1950s. The HUAC ran slipshod over Hollywood and many other industries in a hysterical campaign to ferret out suspected Communists hiding among the ranks of American society, and along the way, abused this authority to neutralize whoever they decided was their enemy.

It’s a newly stirring story, considering that the United States has recently come under cyberattack from Russian influences, and that because nobody has any idea to what extent they’ve infiltrated the cultural mainstream, there’s been a lot of hot-tempered hearsay. Combine that with the recent Broadway smash Network, another film about a news anchor taking a stand against all of the injustices of his modernity, and the outrage in the air might just translate to a successful run.

In that event, a transfer to Broadway is all but assured. Still, that’s far off – first, they’ll need to prove that the inherently cinematic elements of the film (for one, the meticulous detail-oriented production design immersing the viewer in the era’s bustling newsrooms, an enveloping effect difficult to replicate on stage) won’t be a stumbling block.

They’ll also need to find a leading man capable of conjuring the warm paternalism of Murrow, a feat for which David Strathairn was nominated for the Academy Award. It’s a long road ahead, but it’s got a promising starting point.

Good Night and Good Luck will run from 22 October to 20 December.

Published 5 Mar 2020

Tags: George Clooney Matt Charman

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