Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
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.
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).
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.
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.
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. Strangelove’s political satire is still very relevant in modern day politics and is a must see. I give it 3 guys without hesitation.
-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.”