Film Review: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Dr Strangelove War Room

Stanley Kubrick’s Cold War black comedy is more clever than funny. Still, it is one of the great films you should see at least once.

Dr Strangelove PosterShould I see it?

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Writers: Stanley Kubrick, Terry Southern and Peter George

Starring:  Peter Sellers, Sterling Hayden, George C. Scott, Slim Pickens, Keenan Wynn and James Earl Jones

Rated PG for content, including sexual references

As a child of the Cold War, I can tell you there were times when people went to sleep honestly concerned about a nuclear apocalypse. The United States and the Soviet Union spent decades living under ‘mutual assured destruction’, a military strategy where both Super Powers understood that if one were to attack the other, both would die in the resulting bath of fire and radiation. In other words, you pray the other guy is as interested in living as much you are and/or no one screws up. While this strategy did help keep the world from the real Climate Change™ that is a nuclear winter, it did funnel our conflict into numerous side adventures and proxy wars.

The Cold War, like other conventional wars, was one fought by leaders divorced from the reality and consequences of their decisions. Stanley Kubrick brought attention to this disparity in his brilliant anti-war film Paths of Glory. Much like that film about a WWI unit commander dealing with his men’s mutiny while under the foolish, né murderous direction of a glory hungry general, Dr. Strangelove focuses primarily on the foolhardy, sometimes outright insane results of incompetent, self-serving leaders.

This black political satire is set in motion when General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden), suffering from a psychotic attack, orders his B-52s to bomb the Soviet Union.British attache, Capt. Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers) desperately attempts to get the general to hand over the recall codes for the planes only to have the madman cite Alex Jones’ style conspiracy theories.

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