“Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964)
Running Time: 95 minutes
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Featuring: Peter Sellers, Sterling Hayden, George C. Scott, Slim Pickens, James Earl Jones, Keenan Wyn
President Merkin Muffley: Gentlemen, you cant fight in here! This is the War Room!
The re-release this month of “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964) on Blu-ray gives another generation the chance to discover one of Kubrick’s greatest films and one that can often be overlooked in favor of “A Clockwork Orange” (1971), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and “Full Metal Jacket” (1987). This is a little unfair as I believe that “Dr. Strangelove” really does inform what was to be become the rest of his stately oeuvre.
The films plot is relatively simple; a mad Colonel creates the situation where many people believe World War III has begun and the attempts by those in power to prove the situation is actually a false one. The film is limited to three main geographic locations – a B-52 bomber on the way to Russia to deliver its payload, the US War Room where the President and a bunch of advisors as well as the aptly named Dr. Strangelove give out useless pieces of advice and possible solutions and finally the US Base which is the origin of the panic.
So much has already been written about this film that it is difficult to say anytihg new but one particular aspect to highlight is the acting, which is excellent. Kubrick has and is known as a technically perfect director and his framing and use of light has never been matched, but one thing that is not mentioned is the performances he was able to get out of his actors. This is true for all of his films, but especially this one.
Peter Sellers is the leading man just by default as he plays three characters, the titular Dr. Strangelove, The President of the United States and a Colonel at the US Military Base where all the action is happening. It is a testament to the brilliance of Sellers that this film is not considered his greatest performance but that is probably due to his triple threat in this film. Sterling Hayden one of the greatest western and film noir stars of all time as the paranoid General Jack Ripper who starts the entire mess, George C Scott playing a military man like no other – a true cold war hero, to himself anyway and Slim Pickens as the B-52 commander who will follow orders like no other.
This is film is highly recommended and should be a part of any film lovers library.