When a fanatical U.S. general launches an air strike against the Soviets, they raise the stakes by threatening to unleash a “doomsday device.”
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Peter Bull, Sterling Hayden, Slim Pickens, George C. Scott, Peter Sellers, Keenan Wynn, Jack Creley, James Earl Jones, Tracy Reed, Glenn Beck
Information Page: https://uk.newonnetflix.info/info/60020009
“Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”, to give the film it’s full title, is widely regarded as a classic movie but one that I’ve never actually seen. So, just what makes a classic a classic and does the phrase ‘classic’ mean it’s actually any good or not? Let’s see shall we?
The premise is fairly straight forward and, bearing in mind that the film was released around the Cold War period, is quite satirical in its nature. When US General Jack Ripper overrules President Merkin Muffley (gotta love the comedy names) and launches a nuclear attack on Russia, only he has the code to stop the attack. Ripper’s reasons for the attack? He believes fluoridation of water is the Soviet’s most ghastly plan of attack ever and he noticed the effects of the attack because he was tired after making love to his wife…
Owing to the age of the film, “Dr Strangelove” is in black and white and where special effects are needed they do look a little dated. However, this really doesn’t detract from the story at all. There is some neat camera work at times and the film progresses at a steady pace.
When President Muffley refuses to go along with the all-out attack, he brings in the Russian Ambassador who advises them of the “Doomsday Device” – a large scale, Soviet deterrent that, ironically, had never been announced. The rest of the film concentrates on averting the potential nuclear disaster by finding out the secret code to call off the attack – which Ripper withholds because “war is too important for politicians”. Throughout the film, the action takes place in The Pentagon’s “War Room”, on the airbase where Ripper is stationed and on one of the B-52 bombers heading to Soviet airspace.
The film, as a whole, is actually very funny although there are only a few ‘laugh out loud’ moments. My favourite being the phone call between the President and the Soviet Premier, Dmitri – you never hear Dmitri but you get a great sense of the conversation just from hearing one side of it. The undoubted star of the film is the late Peter Sellers who plays President Muffley, Captain Mandrake and the titular Dr Strangelove. Mandrake is an RAF officer while Strangelove is a wheelchair-bound former Nazi working for the US government.
Captain Mandrake is my favourite character in the film and he plays a very stereotypical ‘tally-hop, pip pip’ kind of Brit. His sheer persistence in trying to find the code, his attack on the Coca-Cola company and silly comedy lines like “Listen, Colonel Bat Guano, if that is your real name…” – his character really steals the show in the 2nd half.
We don’t do spoilers in our reviews but I want to end by saying that the closing scenes really do bring the film to a beautiful end. It’s satire at it’s best; outrageous at times, dark when it wants to be and just a fun movie to watch. Is it a classic? I’m not sure to be honest but it will be a film I will be watching again as no doubt there will be a few things that went unnoticed on my first viewing.
Have you seen this film? Let us know your opinions in the comments below and of course if there are any films on Netflix UK you want us to review let us know!