No 9 "Dr. Strangelove"


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


directed by Stanly Kubrick
Peter Sellers
Peter Sellers , Peter Sellers, and Peter Sellers.
(yes, he plays three different characters in the same movie)

George C. Scott George C. Scott...

Sterling Hayden ...

Keenan Wynn ...

Slim Pickens ...

Peter Bull ...

James Earl Jones ...

Tracy Reed ...

Jack Creley ...

Frank Berry ...

Robert O'Neil ...

Glenn Beck ...
Lieutenant Kivel (as Glen Beck)

Roy Stephens ...

Shane Rimmer ...

Hal Galili ...

This may be my most favorite American film of all time. As an art film I would put it up with anything from Europe, except it's a comedy. It scared the hell out of me as a child. I expected the world to end any day and I worried, no I agonized over nuclear war for days after seeing it. It may have set me on the entire political path for the left with that one film. The portrait of the military, the right wing politicians, and the cold war overwhelmingly lays bare the stupidity of "mutually assured destruction.". What I did not get as a kid (maybe 10 or 11) watching it was that it is totally hilarious. The anti-war statement is far more powerful as a comedy. As a drama it's way to serious to think about. People would have dismissed it. The Day After was a powerful film but it didn't change that many attitudes; Regan still won by a land slide. Nuclear war during the cold war was the ultimate topic, way too serious to approach seriously. As a comedy it's perfect for laying bare the stupidity of the times. Kubrick once said they started to film it as a drama and kept falling writing jokes until they realized cold war thinking is a joke, then it became a comedy.

It's a remarkable film for many reasons. Peter Sellers plays three characters, everyone and his dog is in it. I'll never forget the line by Keenan Wynn (colonel Bat Guano), who is asked to break open a coke machine so the Peter Sellers in his guise as a British exchange officer can call the President and tell him the general (Starlin Hyden as General Jack Ripper) has just started World War III, and Guano says "Ok but you are going to have to answer to the coca cola company." It so perfectly exposes the stupidity of the mind set that created the cold war and the Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) Policy.

The chemistry between Sellers and George C. Scott is so hilarious, superbly done. Seller's portrayal of a British officer, a gentaleman, modern,sophisticated, cultured, totally afraid of the Scott charater. He sees how volatile the commanding offiecer is and seems as though he expects him to start shooting indiscriminately. While the general is convinced the communists have fluoridated the water.

Peter Sellers also plays the President and Dr. Strangelove, a Nazi war criminal working for America's cold war effort, whose own arm attacks him. The President is a whimp and explains to the soviet leader, "now Demitree once of our generals went a little bit funny in the head." General Jack T.Ripper ordered a nuclear strike to stop fluoridation.

I will never forget the iconic last scene where Slim Pickins rides the bomb to the earth like a Bronco waving his cowboy hat and shouting "Yeeeehaaa!" If only he could have gotten Regan to play that scene American history might have been very different. The generals are discussing options now that the soviet dooms day device is about to be set off, they say "we can live in mine shafts." A parody of the cold war thinking, fear of a missile gap when we had enough to blow up the world 11 times over, last line of the film, "we can't allow a mine shaft gap." The world ends when the bomb hits and the last images are of mushroom clouds and a song "tell them I was singing" is playing.



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