Dr. Strangelove (1964) 4.65/5 (2)


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Rating: The Good – 91.1
Genre: War, Satire
Duration: 95 mins
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Sterling Hayden, Peter Sellers, George C. Scott

“Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here, this is the War Room.” The grand-daddy of all satires, Dr. Strangelove began as a serious project about the Cold War but Stanley Kubrick found the whole thing so ludicrous he felt it needed to be told as farce. And farce is what we get, the best kind. Sterling Hayden is the mad general who orders his B-52 attack wing to drop their nuclear payload on Soviet targets knowing they will immediately go radio-silent thereby precluding anyone from recalling them. George C. Scott is utterly superb as General Buck Turgidson who is charged by the President with coming up with a plan to avoid all out war with the Russians but who seems more concerned with the Russian ambassador being let into the war-room where he can see “the big board”. Towering above even that performance however, is the imperious Peter Sellers as Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake, President Merkin Muffley, and the man himself, Dr. Strangelove. It’s difficult to decide which persona is his funniest right up until the final scene when the Dr. just simply nails it.

The script is as sharp and subtly clever as they come with plenty of overt humour thrown in for good measure. Kubrick’s eye was never better and the wide shots of the war room and of the B-52’s making their approach have become some of the most iconic in history. However, it was his ability to know when and where to use the various shots, scenes, and dialogues which makes the progression of the film so funny. In that he achieved that rarity in comedic film-making in that his ‘direction’ was as funny as the words on the page and the actors who uttered them. It all builds up to that most seminal of endings of course and who after seeing this has ever forgotten Slim Pickens’ exit from that zany yet all-too real world which Kubrick presented us with.

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