A film so great they named it twice, our four-film retrospective of some of the best films in Stanley Kubrick’s illustrious career concludes with 1964’s pitch-black war comedy Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb!
Kubrick’s masterpiece unfolds at a breakneck pace after Air Force Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper (one of many an intentionally silly name) decides to launch an all-out nuclear attack on the Russians, taking advantage of an ill-conceived measure that makes the reversal of his decision very hard to implement – even for US President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers). As Ripper’s fellow Group Captain Mandrake (Peter Sellers) and wheelchair-bound ex-Nazi scientist Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers) struggle respectively to stop the General and prepare America for the inevitable, good ol’ boys General Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott) and Colonel Bat Guano (Keenan Wynn) set out to do what they believe they do best – blow things up and ask questions later.
Nominated for four Academy Awards and selected for preservation in 1989 by the National Film Preservation Board, Dr. Strangelove is Kubrick at perhaps his most cynical, a simultaneously hilarious and foreboding film that expertly manages to tickle the funny bone while chilling the bones in equal measure.
“By a whopping margin, this is Kubrick’s most radical film and greatest dramatic gamble.” — Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out
“An argument can be made -– and indeed, has been made in several reviews -– that a comedy of this sort is sick and tasteless. This seems a confusion of disease with diagnosis; certainly the film abounds with sickness and an acute lack of taste, but we do not call a doctor “sick” or “tasteless” if he makes out a report that his patient has syphilis.” — Jonathan Rosenbaum
“The movie’s screenplay, by Terry Southern with help from Kubrick and Peter George, fashions this scenario into a dark comedy of errors, illuminated by flashes of brilliant satire.” — Roger Ebert