The Good German
The Good German is a forties-era tale of an American journalist, played by George Clooney, who returns to Berlin after the war and becomes entangled in a mystery involving the missing husband of his former mistress. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Joseph Kanon, published in 2001, and features an all-star cast, including Tobey Maguire, Beau Bridges, and Cate Blanchett as Clooney’s mistress, Lena. Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven), The Good German is painstakingly shot in black and white to recall the classic thrillers of that decade. It should not be confused with A Good Year, the feel-good Russell Crowe movie set in Provence, or The Good Girl, a somber 2002 film that showcased Jennifer Aniston’s serious side.
The Good Shepherd
The Good Shepherd is the fifties-era tale of a Yale student, played by Matt Damon, who’s recruited to work in an espionage agency that’s the precursor to the CIA. The film is not based on the life of Jesus Christ, who is often called the Good Shepherd, but may be based partially on the life of James Jesús Angleton, a longtime CIA official who suffered from paranoia. Directed by Robert De Niro (Raging Bull, Rocky & Bullwinkle), the film features an all-star cast, including William Hurt, Alec Baldwin, and Angelina Jolie as Damon’s wife, Clover. Many of the men in the film wear horned-rim glasses to recall the eyewear of that decade. The Good Shepherd should not be confused with The Good Son, a somber 1993 film that showcased Macaulay Culkin’s serious side.
The Good Witch
Glinda the Good Witch lived in Oz and became entangled in the plight of Dorothy, a Kansas girl stranded by a tornado. She is also notable for traveling inside a bubble. Her geographical residence is unclear: In L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, she is the Good Witch of the South, but in the famed 1939 film, she is the Good Witch of the North. In both, she’s depicted as a tall, willowy woman with red hair and a trilling voice, whereas in the 2003 musical Wicked, Glinda was played by Kristin Chenoweth, a tiny, blonde woman with a trilling voice. Actress Billie Burke, who portrayed Glinda in the film, later starred on the radio in “The Billie Burke Show,” playing a birdbrained Good Samaritan, a phrase that originated in a parable told by Jesus.
Good King Wenceslas
Good King Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen, when the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even. The subject of a popular Christmas hymn, notable for its lack of any reference to Christmas, the king in question is Wenceslas, duke of Bohemia, born in 907. Killed in a plot orchestrated by his younger brother, Boleslav, in 929, Wenceslas was canonized shortly thereafter; he is now the patron saint of brewers and his statue can be seen in Prague. He’s best memorialized, however, in the famed carol, set to a thirteenth-century tune with lyrics written in the mid-nineteenth century by the Reverend John Mason Neale. The hymn should not be confused with Peter Schickele’s P.D.Q. Bach parody “Good King Kong Looked Out.”