Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB. United Kingdom, 1964. Columbia Pictures Corporation, Hawk Films. Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick, Terry Southern, Peter George, based on the book Red Alert by Peter George. Cinematography by Gilbert Taylor. Produced by Stanley Kubrick. Music by Laurie Johnson. Production Design by Ken Adam. Costume Design by Bridget Sellers. Film Editing by Anthony Harvey. Academy Awards 1964. New York Film Critics Awards 1964.
Just like The Americanization of Emily made a comedy out of D-Day, Dr. Strangelove makes light of the Cold War and nuclear warfare. Seems tasteless, but actually it’s a brilliantly directed, extremely intelligent satire on the ridiculousness of the subject it deals with. Peter Sellers is fantastic in three roles, one as president of the United States, one as the scientist of the title, and one as a hapless British soldier who has to stop the efforts of an insane general (Sterling Hayden) who has just sent a bomber to the USSR. Hayden, whose character is lovingly named Jack Ripper, believes that Communists are injecting a harmful bodily fluid into all good, free Americans and intends on putting a stop to it. The Soviet Union in retaliation announces that, should the bombers succeed, they will reply with a doomsday machine that will end all life on Earth for good! George C. Scott is almost terrifying in his hilarious portrayal of a warmonger for whom army maneuvers are just another game of Battleship; his efforts to have fun in the name of combat meet with resistance from the President who is trying his hardest to reach the Russian president and maybe pacify the entire situation. Terrific set design only adds to the kookiness of it all, this is simply one of the best and most thought-provoking comedies ever made.