Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Dr. Strangelove


DR. STRANGELOVE, OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB (BLACK AND WHITE, 1964)

Director
Stanley Kubrick

Cast
Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Slim Pickens, Kennan Wynn, Peter Bull, James Earl Jones and Tracy Reed

Ages
12 and up

Plot
It is the cold war. Insane general Jack D. Ripper (Hayden) has just sent the go code for several planes to go bomb Moscow. His aide, Lionel (Sellers) wants to put a stop to it, and Buck Turgidson (Scott) learns about it in the Pentagon. He tells the President (Sellers again) and an ex-scientist Dr Strangelove (Sellers once more), who both try to find the go code as  Russian Ambassador (Bull) proves that bombing Moscow would mean the end of the world. They do, with Lionel’s help, but the aircraft with Maj. "King" Kong (Pickens) and a lieutenant (Jones) are unable to get the message.

Dr Strangelove, played by Peter Sellers.
Why it’s good
Because it is a satire and black comedy about, of all things, nuclear war, cold war and how the communists are trying to "pollute" the Americans (as the insane Jack D. Ripper would say).

And it is also Stanley Kubrick’s least controversial movie. The screenplay was collaboration between him and Terry Southern, which is mighty priceless. The famous line is “Gentlemen, you can’t fight here, this is the war room!” It is just like the “I am your father!” from the movie Star Wars (said by James Earl Jones, who happened to be playing a lieutenant in this film).

Another thing to note is Sellers playing multiple roles. He plays Jack D. Ripper’s aide Lionel Mandrake, the President and Dr Strangelove.

But most of all, the names are all silly, Lionel’s last name is Mandrake, the President’s was Merkin Muffley, George C. Scott’s was Buck Turgidson, Sterling Hayden’s was Jack D. Ripper and Slim Pickens was ‘King’ Kong.

Parent’s guide
One of the character’s, assisted by Mandrake, shoots some of his own soldiers who are marching from base to base. There are several scenes where they use nuclear weapons on accident. One character fights with Peter Bull’s insisting he is a Soviet spy.

Trivia
Peter Sellers was originally supposed to play the Major, too, but had trouble developing the accent for the character. Thus they had to choose someone else, and they chanced on Slim Pickens, who was never shown the entire script.

If you like this…
"Fail-Safe" (1964) is not really a comedy, but a rather dramatic Cold War suspense film with Henry Fonda playing the President. By today’s standards, it is too slow and confusing. I watched only half of it for the reasons above.              

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