Directed by Stanley Kubrick. UK. 1964. PG. 95 minutes. Sony. Digital.
Sun., September 24, 2017
Referred to variously as a “classic nightmare comedy,” a “ferocious cold war satire,” and “the funniest movie ever made about thermonuclear holocaust,” Stanley Kubrick’s masterful Dr. Strangelove seems to grow increasingly relevant with each passing day. The story has a certifiably insane General (General Jack D. Ripper) who, believing that the Communists are sabotaging his “vital bodily fluids,” deliberately sends a bomber squadron off to attack the USSR. Hearing of this, the President and his staff try desperately (and ludicrously) to call them back. Played as broad satire (characters have names like General “Buck” Turgidson, President Merkin Muffley, and Colonel “Bat” Guano), it is all enacted with completely straight faces. Peter Sellers has a field day, giving three of his best performances: as a bemused British adjutant officer, as President Muffley, and as the title character (an ex-Nazi scientist, now a U.S. advisor, whose artificial arm is out of control and keeps automatically giving a Nazi salute). Hilarious performances are also turned in by George C. Scott, Keenan Wynn and, especially, Sterling Hayden (as General Ripper). As the London Radio Times has so aptly put it: “Kubrick’s unsparing disgust with our warlike instincts has never been so obvious, nor so grimly comic.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.