Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Why Haven't I Seen That?: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb


This weeks edition of "Why Haven't I Seen That?" takes a look at Stanley Kubrick's 1964 black-comedy classic, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb.

Dr. Strangelove is arguably the greatest black-comedy ever made (or at least that I've seen).  Stanley Kubrick's cold-war classic is the ultimate satire of the nuclear age and is a perfect spoof of political and military insanity.  Peter Sellers is wonderful in the three roles he plays (President Muffley, RAF officer Group Captain Mandrake, and of course, the title character, Dr. Strangelove), and the story is so strange that you can't help but enjoy it.

Loosely based on the novel Red Alert (also known as Two Hours To Doom) by Peter George, this film tells the story of somewhat unstable (and I use the term 'somewhat' very loosely) USAF general who orders a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union.  It follows the President of the United States, his advisers, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a Royal Air Force officer as they try to recall the bombers to prevent a nuclear apocalypse.  It also follows the crew of one B-52 bomber as they try to deliver their payload.

Originally, Sellers was to play four different characters, as part of an agreement with Columbia Pictures to finance the film.  The other character he was supposed to play was Air Force Major T.J. "King" Kong, the B-52 Stratofortress aircraft commander.  However, during shooting, Sellers sprained his ankle and couldn't finish the scenes, resulting in the part being giving to the very talented character actor, Slim Pickens (after being turned down by John Wayne).

Slim Pickens in the infamous "Riding The Bomb" scene

Dr. Stranglove is weird, funny, and sometimes makes you wonder what the heck you're watching.  It's an absolute classic and is a piece of film history.  And seeing as 2014 is the 50th anniversary of this great film, I recommend checking it out.  I'm very glad I did, even if I am a little late to the party.

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