One of the best films ever made, "Dr. Strangelove"
is a black comedy about a pending nuclear war.
You can argue that George C. Scott's rabid general
is too over the top, as is Dr. Strangelove's
misbehaving robotic arm, but other than those
minor complaints, the film is virtually perfect.
General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) suddenly
becomes insane and orders his bomber wing to
drop nuclear bombs in Russia, much to the
consternation of polite staffer Lionel Mandrake
(Peter Sellers). As the bombers approach their
targets, President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers)
holds an emergency meeting in the War Room.
Also there is warmonger Gen. Buck Turgidson (Scott),
the Russian ambassador (Peter Bull), and twisted
ex-Nazi Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers).
Muffley manages to stop all the bombers except
one, led by redneck Slim Pickens. James Earl Jones,
in an early role, is part of the flight crew.
"Dr. Strangelove" was produced and directed by
Stanley Kubrick, who also co-wrote the screenplay
with Peter George and Terry Southern. The script
is hilarious throughout. Hayden's mad ramblings
about "precious bodily fluids", Muffley's exhortation
"Gentlemen, you can't fight in here. This is the
War Room", Picken's jingoistic pep talk to his crew,
Muffley's phone conversations with a drunken Soviet
premier, Dr. Strangelove's wild schemes of mine shaft
harems, Keenan Wynn's warning "You'll have to answer
to the Coca-Cola company", the omnipresent signs
on the Army Base that read "Peace is Our Mission",
are only the highlights.
Sellers plays three roles. He attempted Picken's
role as well, but proved unable to adopt a convincing
Texas accent. Many of Seller's lines were improvised.
Sellers really was a comic genius, and was used by
Kubrick in his previous film, the black comedy "Lolita".
"Dr. Strangelove" received four major Oscar nominations:
Best Actor (Sellers), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best
Director and Best Picture. But this was the year of
"My Fair Lady", which swept most of the major awards.
The Academy Award's favoritism towards colorful
big-budget musicals (e.g. "Gigi", "The Sound of Music",
"West Side Story") was never more evident.
Copyright © 1996 Brian Koller