Edward R. Murrow Collection - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Edward R. Murrow Collection Reviews

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½ July 2, 2008
I had originally intended this to be a review of [i]Harvest of Shame[/i], which does appear as one of the discs of this collection. However, on a whim, I decided to search "Edward R. Murrow," a search that does not produce the desired collection on IMDB. It does here. So once again, we have a superior search on Rotten Tomatoes, which--as you know--is pretty rare. This is probably because Rotten Tomatoes is more geared toward DVD searches than IMDB. Who can say?

There are four distinct components to this collection, one on each disc. The first is a PBS documentary called [i]This Reporter[/i] about Murrow's life in general, including interviews with his family, coworkers, and what could arguably be called his legacy--Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, Diane Sawyer, and Peter Jennings. It examines the entire span of his career, from his radio days until he died. It even briefly mentions the two years he spent as an executive instead of as an on-air personality. It is a farther reaching, non-fictional account of a man we saw in [i]Good Night, and Good Luck[/i], and it helps us get to know the man before we get into the rest.

The second disc is selections from [i]See It Now[/i], closer to Murrow's heart but less famous than [i]Person to Person[/i]. As it's about the only [i]See It Now[/i] that I've, well, seen, I cannot say if it is the best of. I will say I found the Grandma Moses segment too long and the Louis Armstrong section not long enough. I did find the Alaska/Hawaii statehood selection fascinating; I had not realized anyone actually debated the subject, and it simply hadn't occurred to me that, had anyone done so, they would have objected to Hawaii's entrance over racial issues. It makes sense, but I hadn't thought about it. I think it would please Edward R. Murrow that, even fifty years later, he was still making someone think.

The third disc contains arguably the best-known segments. It's titled [i]The McCarthy Years[/i]. Not only do we get the full segment about Milo Radulovich and the entirety of Murrow's episode about McCarthy himself, we get McCarthy's response--and Murrow's counter-response, the one where he exposes all of the Senator's lies. These are presented almost without commentary; we are left to consider the impact of each without being told what to think, the way Murrow presented that McCarthy episode in the first place. This alone is worth seeking out the collection; I, of course, found it at my local library, where I find practically everything we review here.

The fourth and final disc contains one thing, only an hour long--but that one thing is [i]Harvest of Shame[/i], one of the best-known of all Murrow's work. It is an analysis of the conditions suffered (I use the word advisedly) by migrant farmworkers. Now, I'm having a hard time finding a point-by-point analysis of how their lot has improved over the last 48 years, but I can guess that it has, because there now actually is federal legislation and unionization protecting these people. I'm pretty sure child labour laws apply to farm workers now, too. I don't think all the credit can be placed on Murrow any more than Murrow himself personally brought down McCarthy. I will, however, say that attention was paid by a lot more people because they trusted Murrow.

I wish someone like Murrow were permitted to be working today. The vast wasteland has stolen the chance for men of character to announce what may well be unpopular stories because they need to be told. Jim Dyle on [i]Murphy Brown[/i] was always lamenting what Edward R. Murrow and his colleagues would think of today's news, and he was right. Can you imagine Katie Couric bringing us a report on the conditions experienced by fast food workers?
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