I recall a conversation with a group of my friends in high school, during which we were extolling the merits of various types of masculine attire (black jeans being high on the list). But one friend – always notable for being rather more mature than her cohorts – expressed a preference for a guy to wear a suit and tie. (“A suit and tie?” I thought disparagingly. “Ew!”)
Well, that was then, and this is now, and I have since developed an appreciation for The Suit. Now, I must immediately qualify that by saying that my favour leans toward its earlier incarnations… perhaps not 18th-century, but definitely 1920s-40s. Three-piece? Yes, indeed. Avec fedora? S’il vous plait.
So I was not surprised to find in Good Night, and Good Luck (a film co-written, directed, and co-produced by the perennially elegant George Clooney) a veritable closetful of snazzy suits.
And it’s literally ALL suits, with the exception of the occasional dress on Patricia Clarkson, or one of the more minor female characters. So between that limitation, and the black-&-white palette, the variations become more subtle….
For example: to hat, or not to hat?
Well, that’s easy… the entire film takes place indoors (most often in the newsroom), so the only time a hat appears is during the rare scene in a public building:
(Unlike Seabiscuit, for instance, this is not a “fedora flick”.)
Next question: two-piece, or three-piece?
And as you can see, the cigarette is a near-constant accoutrement, and I’m rather embarrassed to say that it – how shall I put this, in a reasonably P.C. manner? – never fails not to detract from the elegance of the whole ensemble. There! Wrestle with that double-negative, but please don’t assume the end result to be any kind of endorsement of the tobacco industry.
Now, lest you think these gents spend the entire film without ever removing so much as a layer….
They’re not averse to shedding their jackets occasionally!
And then you get the fun of comparing jacket-with-tie…
…to jacket-with-no-tie… [Note the smile: I think he’s enjoying this!]
…to tie-with-no-jacket [definitely happier now!]….
However, please don’t make the assumption that he’s been caught in an act of flagrant tie-removal!
He hasn’t. He’s actually donning, not doffing, the tie:
So costume-wise, this film is Fifty Shades of Suit-&-Tie…
…with this being the extent of their raciness, thankfully!
And may I please just put in a good word for suspenders?
That look is legit, I might add! Here’s the real Ed Murrow:
A typewriter makes a grand accessory as well…
…most importantly, because seeing it reminds us of what this film is all about: the vital importance of education, freedom of thought & expression, meaningful debate, and mutual tolerance.
So, even leaving kudos for sartorial elegance aside, I recommend you do yourself a favour and watch Good Night, and Good Luck. It’s stellar cinema, and the message seems particularly apt for our times.
I’ll sign off on this post with [spoiler alert] the main character’s own closing words from the film:
To those who say people wouldn’t look; they wouldn’t be interested; they’re too complacent, indifferent and insulated, I can only reply: There is, in one reporter’s opinion, considerable evidence against that contention. But even if they are right, what have they got to lose? Because if they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost. This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box. Good night, and good luck.
~ Costume design: Louise Frogley