Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dr. Strangelove (1964)

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

Brigadier General Jack Ripper (Sterling Hayden) has sent the codes to start a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, then barricaded himself in his base, and convinced his soldiers that anyone who attacks are Russians. His plan is to provoke a response from the USSR forcing the Pentagon to make the decision to finish the job or else withstand a Soviet retaliation. The foppish British Captain Mandrake (Peter Sellers) tries to talk him down. Sellers also plays the President and the titular doctor.

Yet another movie I knew well, but knew nothing about. I knew it was anti-war, that Peter Sellers played multiple rolls, and that it was a screwball comedy, but that was it. It shouldn't have taken me this long to have seen it.

Theory is that the US military changed some of the procedures to insure this scenario cannot happen, but that sounds like Hollywood hokum to me. Nobody knew what the cockpit of a B52 looked like but there was one published photograph. The set designers concocted what they thought it should look like and apparently weren't too far off. Obviously, the military were not going to offer any assistance.

The movie features George C. Scott, a very young James Earl Jones, and Slim Pickens as everyone's favorite cowboy pilot. It's nuanced enough to defy description and funny enough to see a second time. AMRU 4.
"Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!"

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