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Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

dr_strangelove alt poster

Director: Stanely Kubrick
Writer: Stanely Kubrick, Terry Southern, Peter George (screenplay) Peter George (Book)
Starring: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden
How I Watched It: HD Net
Review By: Scott

Now I was not around in the 60’s but  I do know a few things; the H-Bomb was a big flippin deal back then, U.S/Russia cold war was heightening ,communism was a dirty word, and we were one radio call away from an earthly disaster like the world has never seen.  Who better to tell a satirical story about this fear that gripped Americans than Stanely Kubrick?  This did not go unnoticed in the world, and many took offense to Kubrick’s portrayal of the American Armed Forces. As an extra, I will provide you some quotes from people back in the day at the end of this post.  Enough about that lets get to the film.

Gen. Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) has had enough of the commies and orders his B-52’s to attack Russia by issuing a Wing Attack plan-R, when questioned by a Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers) Gen. Ripper exclaims “I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, communist subversion, and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.” Capt. Mandrake sees that Ripper has lost his mind and tries to get the code to overturn the order but Ripper refuses.

Mandrake and Ripper

The base is secure, the B-52’s are nearing their targets and the President of the United States Merkin Muffley (also Peter Sellers) is trying to override the order but due to fail safes put into place, there is no way for the President to stop the planes from bombing Russia and the imminent destruction of the world.

The movie flows between the army base, the war room, and the B-52 bomber and we as viewers get to enjoy the dialogue of several unique characters. There is Gen. Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott) who continuously has to tell the President what he cannot do, due to his own policies.  Maj. King Kong played by Slim Pickens who has to tell his crew that they are going to start what could be the destruction of the world and of course Dr. Strangelove (also Peter Sellers).

pres and russ ambassador

Dr. Strangelove is a dark comedy with some of the best dialogue ever written in a film.  The banter that goes on throughout the whole film is incredibly well done.  Peter Sellers is exceptional in his depiction of 3 of the main characters of this film and showcases his comic genius.  George C. Scott and Sterling Hayden are also great in their portrayals.  There are so many memorable scenes and so much memorable dialogue that it would be a mistake not to see this movie at least once.

slim on the bomb

Kubrick laced this film with hidden innuendo especially in the characters names.  President Merkin Muffley-which merkin and muffley are reported as pubic hair wigs or female crotches,  Gen. Jack D. Ripper- you can get that one, General Buck Turgidson- buck means stud and turgid means swollen, Capt Lionel Mandrake- mandrake was a plant to restore sexual potency, Col. Bat Guano- guano is shit, Ambassador deSadesky- named after Marquis de Sade namesake of sade-ism, and Premier Kissov- which basically means kiss off.

miss scott

Although controversial at the time of its’ release the film was nominated for 4 Oscars, losing to My Fair Lady and Becket, two inferior films in my opinion.  It is regarded by many to be one of the best films ever made and I would have a difficult time disagreeing.  I have seen this film probably 10 times in my life and after watching it the other night I was amazed at how well it stands up to time.

DR Strangelovesellers

Dr. Strangelove’s political satire is still very relevant in modern day politics and is a must see.  I give it 3 guys without hesitation.

3guys copy




-The only woman in the film is Miss Scott played by playboy centerfold Tracy Reed

-There was a counter propaganda film set to be released after this film was released but never was at the time and you can view it @ http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nukevault/ebb304/film03.htm  It is worth a watch.

-When the DVD release in 2011 was going to happen Columbia had lost the original film negative and could have released an inferior copy but Kubrick photographed every frame of a master reel he’d personally archived to maintain the film as it should be.

– There was supposed to be a pie fighting scene in the war room but Kubrick decided to pull it.

Quotes from the time of its release

Bosley Crowther of the New York Times

“I am troubled by the feeling, which runs all through the film, of discredit or even contempt for our whole defense establishment. … It is alright to show the General who starts this wild foray as a Communist-hating madman, … But when virtually everybody turns up stupid or insane – or, what is worse, psychopathic – I want to know what this picture proves. … The only character who seems to have much sense is a British flying officer … The ultimate touch of ghoulish humour is when we see the bomb actually going off, dropped on some point in Russia, and a jazzy soundtrack comes in with a cheerful rendition of ‘We’ll meet again some sunny day’. Somehow, to me, it isn’t funny. It is malefic and sick.”

Dwight MacDonald of The Nation

“Every sacred idée reçue of the cold war…is methodically raked over with a barrage of satire. It is even more amazing that Columbia Pictures Corp., a perfectly respectable American business enterprise, is distributing this … travesty of the American Way of Life (and, of course Death). Overall, it holds a cold blade of scorn against the spectator’s throat. … He [Kubrick] and [screenplay collaborator] Terry Southern take a pleasure in flaying their contemporaries that may be more effective as sadistic humor than as adult education.”

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Griff March 14, 2013, 9:29 am

    Gentlemen you can’t fight in here! This is the war room!

  • Adam March 14, 2013, 10:22 am

    So you’re saying I should watch this?

    • scottydynamite March 14, 2013, 1:16 pm

      I am dumbfounded that you have not seen this and yes see it now.

  • Teddy Casimir March 14, 2013, 11:19 am

    Another one of those films that I took out of the player when I started watching it. Maybe, I should revisit.

    • scottydynamite March 14, 2013, 1:17 pm

      Wow Teddy, I would say throw this one back in and give it a real chance.

  • ruth March 14, 2013, 2:48 pm

    I saw this in a film class ages ago and it really was a hoot! That finale is quite iconic. I should rewatch this one as my hubby hasn’t seen it.

    • scottydynamite March 14, 2013, 4:10 pm

      Funny I watched this in my film class when I was 19 years old and was one of the first black and white classics I watched. It truly opened my eyes to a world I knew very little about but was eager to find out more. That class and that movie was one of “those” moments and here I am today revisiting it on my own movie blog.

      • ruth March 15, 2013, 10:34 am

        I think I was about your age too when I saw this, ahah. Yep, I think it was one of the few B&W movies I saw, if you’re not counting Laurel & Hardy stuff I used to watch as a kid :D

  • ckckred March 14, 2013, 4:31 pm

    Nice review of one of my favorite films. Stanley Kubrick is my favorite director and this was one of the first movies I saw of his.

    • scottydynamite March 14, 2013, 5:31 pm

      Thanks ckckred,
      Certainly a must for any Kubrick fan and in my opinion any film fan.

  • Chris March 14, 2013, 7:26 pm

    Sellers at his best….Mein Führer!!!

  • Nick March 14, 2013, 7:40 pm

    This was my introduction to Kubrick and it’s glorious. Funny, filmed incredibly well, and acted better than almost anything I’ve ever seen. Great review. Now I need to rewatch it.

  • Mark Walker March 15, 2013, 1:24 am

    I really need to see this again. It’s been too long. Great write-up man!

  • scottydynamite March 15, 2013, 4:17 am

    Thanks Mark,
    Certainly worth a revisit.

  • Tim The Film Guy March 16, 2013, 5:50 am

    The Nazi arm gets me every time! Damn good film :D

  • Keith March 16, 2013, 7:38 am

    Glorious film! Sellers is the stand out for me. But even besides him there are so many hilarious moments and touches. I can watch this flick any time!

    • scottydynamite March 16, 2013, 7:57 am

      It is one of those movies, no matter the mood.

  • Joe March 16, 2013, 8:30 am

    You combine Kubrick, Southern, and Sellers and you’re going to get one hell of of a flick with some funny and dark humor. Just another movie that shows the diversity of Kubrick’s writing and directing.Going to have to watch this one again. It’s been too long. Great review, Scotty!

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