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Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Starring: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Rated: PG
RunTime: 95 Minutes
Release Date: January 1964
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Classic

*Also starring: Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn, Slim Pickens, James Earl Jones, Peter Bull

Review by Brian Koller
4 stars out of 4

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

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