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Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

by mark f
posted on 1/11/08
9. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)

Dr. Strangelove was made at the height of the Cold War, and it turned the ultra-seriousness of something like Fail-Safe into a black comedy. Even so, I know a few people, who while watching this hilarious film, want me to "point out the funny parts". The thing about this film is that, even if you don't get a single joke, it's so damned suspenseful, and occasionally, realistic, that you would have to think it's almost a documentary. The characters' names should be a dead giveaway that you're dealing with a comedy, but I guess some people don't have a sense of humor, or maybe it's limited to fart jokes. The characters' roll call: Dr. Strangelove, Buck Turgidson, Jack D. Ripper, King Kong, Bat Guano, Premier Kissoff, Lothar Zogg, etc.

True, Dr. Strangelove is full of humor, jokes and utter ridiculousness; even enough to rival a Monty Python film, but some people can't get through Kubrick's realism to see the humor. This film contains some truly great action/suspense scenes. The Army has to attack Burpleson Air Force Base to try to stop General Ripper, and that scene is almost like watching documentary Viet Nam war footage. The realism gets to you. Even better, when the Soviet missile hones in on Major Kong's bomber, trying to blow it out of the sky, the scene is played out in real time and is nail-bitingly suspenseful. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, the only film which can compare to this dark comedy crossed with extreme suspense is The Manchurian Candidate.

Ultimately, this film leaves one thinking about the end of the world. It could very well happen in the blink of an eye, caused by a madman, even if he's NOT an American. This should give everyone pause to consider Dr. Strangelove as a clarion call (yes, even to this day) because it really doesn't take that much for the check and double check system to collapse. It won't go down as hilariously as it does here (if it does), but it will go down just as easily, or perhaps even easier if nobody even understands what this film is about or why it's so flippin' awesome.

Some know, but others don't. Peter Sellers is in all three photos.