Title: Dr. Strangelove (1964)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Slim Pickens and Keenan Wynn
Dr. Strangelove centres around a critical decision made by an insane Air Force Commander named Jack D. Ripper (Hayden). He has authorised a full blown nuclear assault on Russia because he believes that they are the root of the world’s problems. To complicate matters further he issues an order to have all radios removed from the Air Force Base and he instructs his men to open fire on any soldiers that attempt to enter the base. Joint Chief of Staff Buck Turgidson (Scott) finds out about the proposed attack and informs the President (Sellers), who attempts to liaise with his Russian equivalent. Meanwhile, Captain Mandrake (Sellers), has access to Ripper and attempts to gain the access code from him that will allow them to stop the nuclear assault. As a precaution they have also called in the help of a brilliant and unconventional scientist named Dr. Strangelove (Sellers again), which leads to mixed results.
Peter Sellers really excels himself in this picture, playing three very different roles with astonishing versatility. He looks completely different in each role and tries out a variety of accents also. It is hard to pick a favourite as he plays each part so well. George C. Scott is hilarious as the excitable, gum chewing, motor-mouthed Buck Turgidson. One gets the impression that he would rather be anywhere else other than where he is. Sterling Hayden is incredible as the certifiable Ripper, who refuses to drink water containing fluoride and has lost all grip on reality. There is also fantastic work from the supporting cast, which includes Keenan Wynn as Colonel Bat Guano and Slim Pickens as Major Kong.
This being a Stanley Kubrick film it is literally crammed with the tiny nuances and details that make his movies so worthwhile. Once again, like the majority of his movies, it was filmed in England with the shots from the plane filmed elsewhere and inserted later. His strange but very entertaining use of bathrooms is again present and correct and we are treated to multiple three-way confrontations in the film, which are one of his biggest trademarks.
Dr. Strangelove was nominated for four Oscars; Best Picture, Actor, Director and Adapted Screenplay, winning none. It lost out to My Fair Lady in most of the categories. It is quite a unique film, in that many people still find it hilarious, while others just can’t see the humour. Regardless of whether you find it funny or not you should be able to appreciate the quality acting and directing on display. The definition of a classic.