A psychotic general triggers a possible nuclear holocaust that the
president and his generals try to prevent before Russian retaliation.
Dr. Strangelove (1964)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Written by Stanley Kubrick, Terry Southern, Peter George
Starring Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden,
Slim Pickens, Peter Bull, James Earl Jones, Keenan Wynn
Based on the novel Red Alert by Peter George
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Actor (Peter Sellers),
Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay
Dr. Strangelove is arguably one of the most important films of the twentieth century, and may just be Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece. In a time of great political unrest and fear of nuclear war, Kubrick had the guts to make a movie that satirizes a potential nuclear holocaust. On top of that, the movie is simply laugh out loud hilarious. Kubrick brings together an unbelievable all-star cast of legendary performers like Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, and Sterling Hayden to deliver the ultimate political satire that continued to show the world that Kubrick was never willing to compromise his work for the sake of society. With Lolita, he tackled pedophilia. With Dr. Strangelove, he tackled American nuclear policy.
The story begins when psychotic General Jack Ripper (Hayden) issues a secret order to the air force to launch nuclear missiles at Russia. He believes this will destroy the Commies and doesn't think that politicians have the ability to think strategically in a war. His decision sparks an international debacle while the president (Sellers) tries to stop the planes. Alongside him are General Buck Turgidson (Scott, in a crazily unhinged performance) and ex-Nazi Dr. Strangelove (also Sellers), who try to come up with believable scenarios in which only some people will die. Parallel to this are Commander Mandrake (also also Sellers) trying to convince General Ripper to stop, and the men aboard the plane delivering the fateful bomb. All three of Kubrick's intertwining stories are engaging and thought-provoking, not to mention wildly funny. The narrative is so well-crafted that it caused the American government to actually stop and rethink parts of their nuclear policy.
Dr. Strangelove gave the country a somewhat realistic glimpse of how their government would handle a catastrophic situation, albeit in a farcical sense. Still, the message was resoundingly clear, which I think is why this film has stuck around this long. Dr. Strangelove is how Kubrick viewed the constant bickering between the Americans and the Russians during the Cold War. He saw them as children fighting on a playground, only the playground was so, so much bigger. With this film, he got to say his piece on the functionality of the government in times of crises. Clearly, he didn't think much of it, but we got a timeless classic in the process.