Good Night, and Good Luck

Good Night, and Good Luck Quotes and Analysis

"You know, it occurs to me we might not get away with this one."

Ed Murrow

Before going on air for the first time to oppose the American military, Murrow says this to his partner, Fred. He knows full well that the people in charge of the HUAC investigations won't take lightly to him undermining their efforts in the case of a discharged military man accused of being a Communist, and for the first time in the film, we see Murrow express a shred of doubt.

"I think everybody needs a scotch."


Fred says this to Murrow after Murrow tells him he needs a scotch right after the initial show about Milo Radulovich goes well. It is a uniquely light moment in an otherwise very serious movie. Murrow needs to have a drink to unwind from all the tension and hard work he has been subjected to. As Fred informs him, the whole team could use a break, too.

"There's a Knickerbocker game tonight, I've got front row seats. Are you interested?"

William Paley

Paley calls down to Murrow before the McCarthy show praying that Murrow will somehow not go on the air. Even thoughthe CBS Chief knows that Murrow will stick to his guns, he makes this offer just in case.

"The Senate's investigating McCarthy!"


Jesse makes this announcement towards the end of the film, after Murrow has aired his rebuttal to McCarthy's accusations against him on his program. The news is huge, as it means that McCarthy has lost a lot of public favor and is losing power in the political sphere. It also implies that Murrow and his team had some role in bringing McCarthy down, so it is something for everyone to feel proud of.

"Good night, and good luck."


This is not only the title of the movie, but Murrow's enduring sign off from his news program. He says it simply and soberly into the camera at the end of all of his shows. It is at once comforting and affirming as well as ambivalent. The fact that Murrow tells his viewers "good luck," suggests that he thinks that they will need to be vigilant in their encounters with corruption. The fact that Murrow wishes his viewers luck suggests that he thinks they will need some help in remaining critical in the face of adversity and corruption.

"The actions of the Junior Senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his; he didn't create this situation of fear, he merely exploited it, and rather successfully. Cassius was right: the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves."


Murrow says this in the news segment in which he goes after McCarthy's methods directly. He illustrates the gravity of McCarthyism with a reference to Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar. In referencing a line in which a character says that the corruption in government is "in ourselves," Murrow reveals that he believes that McCarthy's corruption is a symptom of a broader structural issue, and that people must remain independent and vigilant against becoming corruptible and uncritical themselves.

It is also notable that in this statement, Murrow points out that the tide of fear is not the fault of McCarthy, but that he has exploited it to his own ends. This line shows what a pointed but also level-headed reporter Murrow is.

"I'm with you today Ed, and I'm with you tomorrow."

William Paley

Even though Paley is very disheartened by the fact that Murrow is putting the well-being of the network at risk in going after an aggressive target (McCarthy), he still has a lot of faith in Murrow, who is the consummate honest journalist. In saying this to Murrow, Paley shows that while he may be ambivalent and worried about the fallout from Murrow's actions, he still trusts him as a thinker and a journalist, and maintains his loyalty to him.

Murrow: You always were yellow.

Fred: Better than red.

Murrow and Fred

Before they go on the air with the Milo Radulovich story, Fred expresses anxiety about the segment. Murrow feels betrayed by Fred's sudden fear, and calls him on being "yellow" (another word for fearful). Fred's response is that it's better to be yellow than another color, red, which is the color ascribed to Communist sympathy and ideology. In Fred's mind, it's better to be safe than sorry, and if one gets mistaken for a Communist during the age of McCarthyism, one usually ends up sorry.

"Name me one woman who asks her husband to take off his wedding ring before he goes to work."


At home, Shirley reminds her husband Joe to take off his wedding ring before heading into work. If it's discovered that they are married, their jobs will be in jeopardy, as it is against CBS policy. She smirks and makes a joke about how unusual it is for a woman to have to remind her husband to take off his wedding ring. While most women would be offended for their husband to remove a symbol of the marriage, the Wershbas have to be secretive in order to keep their jobs.

"Turn the phones on!"


After the second segment, in which Murrow goes after McCarthy, everyone sits around waiting for the phones to ring after the segment. The ringing phones are a sign that people watched the program and want to know more, and signal that the program was a relative success. After this segment, everyone believes that no one watched, because the phones won't ring. Soon enough, however, they realize that a young assistant forgot to turn the phones back on after the program. Fred tells him to do so urgently, and the whole newsroom feels relieved that people actually watched the segment.