For letter ‘D’ of the second Alphabet challenge, we’re off to the 1964 classic political satire comedy – Dr Strangelove (Or how I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb).
The classic film was directed and written by Stanley Kubrick – still in the early years of his career although following up a run of films that has included Spartacus and Lolita – based on the novel Red Alert.
The film famously includes Peter Sellers in 3 different roles (Captain Mandrake, President Muffley, and the title character – Dr Strangelove), and with each role Sellers delivers a well crafted comedic performance (each with a different style) of remarkable quality.
The film follows the decision by a general, who in the midst of a breakdown, to issue a ‘go’ order on the US nuclear defence plan instructing a series of bombers to target Russia. The General is taking advantage of a plan that should only take effect should Russia have successfully bombed Washington and removed the chain of command. As the Turgidson offers ‘it’s beginning to look like, uh, General Ripper exceeded his authority‘.
The film progresses with Ripper’s actions being discovered by the various levels of US authority who begin to plan a way of preventing the impending nuclear attack by themselves on Russia. Things become even worse when the news that Russia has recently developed a mysterious ‘Doomsday’ machine as a deterrent.
In other roles in the film, George C. Scott steals a number of scenes as the gung-ho General Buck Turgidsen, Sterling Hayden as General Jack D. Ripper (what a name), and Slim Pickens as Major Kong. The role of Kong was originally planned to be the 4th character to be played by Sellers until he withdrew close to filming.
This film is a masterpiece of clever, satirical humour born out of a time of extreme tension between the two nations during the Cold War. The script is near perfection with line after line being perfectly crafted and is a hugely quotable script. It is one of my favourite films of all time and to my mind is a masterpiece of cinema.
Sidenote – Remarkably, even though he did not pass away until 2001, Kubrick would only direct 7 more films over the next 37 years.
That’s what I thought – what about you? Have you seen it? Comment below and share your thoughts…