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Movie Review: Dr. Strangelove

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One of the most interesting films of all time, Dr. Strangelove is a farcical look at the insane underpinnings of some of the Cold War theories regarding Mutual Assured Destruction. With the Soviet Union and the United States threatening to utilize the tools of nuclear war (sanity began to sink in following the Cuban Missile Crisis) — each to prevent the other from dominating its realm — a brilliant satire on the situation was inevitable. Highly regarded director Stanley Kubrick (of A Clockwork Orange and 2001: A Space Odyssey) rose to the challenge. Despite the four decades that have passed since the release of Dr. Strangelove, the film retains its place as a masterpiece of social commentary. And regardless of one's political ideology, Dr. Strangelove is outrageously funny.

Gathering a collection of oddball kooks, paranoid wackos, and outright insane individuals, the characters in Dr. Strangelove bring the world to the very edge of destruction without batting an eye, and all the while inexplicably protecting their petty fiefdoms from the greedy hands of their perceived enemies. After all, what if some bombs are left over after the nuclear war and the other side uses them to strike at our cave dwellings – to seize our caves! In short, Dr. Strangelove is a film beyond description. One just has to see it for himself.

When U.S. Air Force Colonel Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) goes completely insane, believing the communists are conspiring to poison the 'bodily fluids' of the American populace, he orders his squadrons to attack the U.S.S.R. and drop a payload of nuclear bombs. The lone renegade sparks U.S. military action against his stronghold and a top-level meeting between US President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers) and his top advisors. Conversing with Russian Ambassador Alexi de Sadesky (Peter Bull), the president tries to put an end to the crisis and avert nuclear war. But he learns instead that a nuclear strike by the U.S. would automatically trigger a Soviet doomsday machine that will destroy all known life on Earth.

Desperate to save the world, the president must deal with a drunken Soviet Premier, the warmonger General 'Buck' Turgidson (George C. Scott), and listen to the droning monologues of former Nazi scientist-turned-genius advisor, Dr. Strangelove (Sellers). Sellers is hilarious in this role as well as his others. Overall, this movie is a series of laughs with an endless number of one-liners such as "Gentleman, you can't fight in here! This is the war room!"

Hilarious to the end, Dr. Strangelove is a modern satire that would make Jonathan Swift proud. Nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture, Dr. Strangelove nevertheless went home from the Oscars empty-handed. But the picture's legacy only seems to grow with the passing of time. Standout, Oscar-worthy performances by Peter Sellers and George C. Scott strengthen every aspect of the film, and the end of the Cold War only witnessed the rise of a new war against Islamic terrorism – with some similarly ridiculous ideas emanating from Washington's power brokers. Overall, this is a funny movie that puts the world political stage back in perspective. Its enduring success makes Dr. Strangelove a definite must-see film.

Britt's Rating: 8.7/10

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About Britt Gillette

  • FJ

    I bought the DVD and several important scenes in the initial war room sequence have been edited out. Sellers as Dr. Strangelove had several sequences in the original movie where the gloved hand wanted to give a Heil Hitler salute. In this original sequence there is a secen where Dr. Strangelove confronts the Russian ambassador with a more imperative speech about “why didn’t you tell us” and the gloved hand goes up for the salute. These original scenes were edited out of the columbia pictures “Special Edition” DVD.

    Does anyone know where there is an original movie version that includes all of these war room scenes? If you do please e-mail me with this information.



  • Tony

    I am appalled by what FJ writes. For me it was a crucial elemment of the film, speaking to the way Nazis were taken in by the US if they were at all useful (ie to help make atomic bombs!). Columbia should be ashamed of themselves.