the hot-line suspense comedy
Running Time: 93 minutes
US Certificate: GP UK Certificate: PG
Country: United Kingdom
Whether you love or loathe the films of Stanley Kubrick, youve got to hand it to the man he certainly Whether you love or loathe the films of Stanley Kubrick, youve got to hand it to the man he certainly wasnt afraid of trying his hand at different genres. You want sci-fi? Youve got it with 2001: A Space Odyssey. An epic? Check out Spartacus. Horror? The Shining. War drama? Full Metal Jacket. Or perhaps youre just after a bit of good ol violence? Well look no further than A Clockwork Orange.
But its comedy thats often the hardest genre to get right. Anyone can make people feel fear, or contempt, or tension, or sadness but making your audience laugh is another matter entirely. Dr Strangelove may not be Kubricks most eye-catching film from a purely directorial point of view, but it is the film with which he proves he can rise to the challenge of making a genuinely hilarious comedy. For that reason, this is arguably his finest hour-and-a-half.
Based on Peter Georges novel Red Alert (which wasnt actually a comedy story), its the tale of an American General (Sterling Hayden) who decides to exploit a loop-hole in the military chain of command to launch a nuclear strike on Russia. You see, hes as mad as a lorry, and has convinced himself that the Commie swines have contaminated the whole of the right-thinking worlds water supply. So, with the planes beyond the point of no return and the Rooskies promising swift retaliation, its up to the President and his posse of advisers to do some seriously quick thinking.
Aside from the accomplishment of Kubrick in piecing together such a fine slice of satire, the films also memorable for the inch-perfect comic delivery of star-man Peter Sellers. Of course Sellers made a habit throughout his career of popping up in films as multiple characters, and Dr Strangelove is no exception. As well as playing the title character (a wheelchair-bound Nazi who, strangely, appears in only a couple of scenes), he fills the shoes of President Muffley AND Captain Mandrake, the English RAF toff intent on saving the day with as stiff an upper-lip as possible. In fact, he was also originally supposed to play the part of Major King Kong, but broke his leg after filming his first three parts and had to hand over the reigns of that one to Slim Pickens.
This is an intelligent film with lots to say if youre prepared to listen. Its a jab at Cold War politics, the US military, and Government in general. But, perhaps even more importantly than that, its silly and its funny so agree with its message or not, you shouldnt take it too seriously.
It's Got: A mechanical arm that just wont lie down.
It Needs: A few extra scenes for the Doc? He does have his name in the title, after all!!
DVD Extras A couple of featurettes (one behind-the-scenes of the film, the other looking at The Art of Stanley Kubrick), an interview with stars Peter Sellers and George C. Scott), a theatrical trailer, press kit, and flimographies. Its an impressive collection of extras when you consider how old the film is. DVD Extras Rating: 7/10
Youd never think impending nuclear disaster could be so much fun!