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

The hot-line suspense comedy.  

Year: 1964 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 (Wide) 
Certificate: BBFC PG Cert – Parental guidance 
Subtitles: This film is expected to have certain elements which are subtitled, but it is not expected that the entire film will contain them. 
Directed by Stanley Kubrick 
Starring: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden  
An image from Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb


Review:

From legendary director Kubrick (A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey) comes one of his best films that has truly stood the test of time. US Air Force Colonel Jack Ripper goes stark raving mad, and sends his bomber wing to destroy the USSR. He suspects communists are conspiring to pollute the “precious bodily fluids” of the Americans. The US president meets with his advisors, where the Soviet ambassador tells him that if the USSR is hit by nuclear weapons, it will trigger a “Doomsday Machine” that will destroy all plant and animal life on Earth. Peter Sellers portrays the three men who might avert this tragedy: British Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, the only person with access to the demented Ripper; US President Merkin Muffley, whose best attempts to divert disaster depend on placating a drunken Soviet Premier and the former Nazi genius Dr. Strangelove, who concludes that “such a device would not be a practical deterrent for reasons which at this moment must be all too obvious”. Will the bombers be stopped in time, or will General Jack Ripper succeed in destroying the world?

Released around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis the film had a lot of resonance with real-life, which still rings true today as we think about the people in the world who have the most power and what their actions have been and will be in future. However, this is not a serious drama to scare people; Kubrick has made the perfect satire and this film is hilarious, rendering those who orchestrate disastrous world events as complete idiots. Sellers, Hayden and Scott are all absolutely fantastic, injecting the perfect amount of humour into each scene. There are a ton of memorable lines you will probably have heard even if you have never seen it (“You can’t fight in here, this is the war room!”) Currently number 18 in the IMDP Top 250, brilliant acting, a sensational script, flawless direction, and even those quirky visual effects, this really is an amazing film and has to be seen.

Colin Tinto

'Dr. Strangelove' might vie for the record for longest-named film, but it doesn't have the most complicated plot ever: A U.S. General (Hayden) goes slightly potty, and sends his bomber wing to destroy the U.S.S.R. (he suspects that the communists are conspiring to pollute the 'precious bodily fluids' of the American people). U.S. President Meffley (Sellers) then has to try to contend with both the Russians and his own fanatical military advisors. The Russians then reveal that they have constructed a 'Doomsday Device' to destroy all life on Earth if a nuclear bomb detonates... they had read reports in the New York Times of a sililar American device, and were worried about a 'Doomsday gap'. Oh dear.

In other words, this is a story about the end of the world.

However, what makes this film special is the brillaint black comedy, and Kubrick's trademark breathtaking imagery and photography. 'Dr. Strangelove' is shot in crisp black-and-white, with an accentuated sense of contrast. The resulting beauty of the film is undeniable.

Many of the comic moments in the film are absolute classics. Who could forget the telephone conversation between President Muffley and his Soviet counterpart in which Muffley nonchalantly mentions that they are about to start a nuclear war. Not to mention the altercation with the Coke machine (don't get any ideas!), or the airforce Major (Pickens) riding an A-bomb like a bucking bronco. Many of the characterisations are also masterpieces, like the title character Dr. Strangelove (also Sellers), a mad ex-Nazi nuclear scientist, or the British Captain Mandrake (sellers again) who has access to the mad General and could perhaps save the world.

This movie is a supreme piss-take of the incompetence or child-like nature of the great superpowers of the era, with moments of tragedy laced with one-liners, some of which are too dated to comprehend.

'Dr. Strangelove' is easily the funniest movie made about global thermonuclear holocaust - who else but Stanley Kubrick could make a film about nuclear Armageddon so light-hearted?

Tony Williams

Originally released in 1964 and then re-released by popular demand in 1994, Dr. Strangelove is one of the late Stanley Kubrick's masterpieces. In the history of motion pictures Dr. Strangelove (subtitled How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb) is one of those ground-breaking productions which has left its mark on the industry. Few movies even come close to this level of accomplishment- and the barbs and quips in the film hold as well today as they did 35 years ago.

The film begins as General Ripper declares a Code Red, seals off his airforce base and orders a nuclear attack on Russia. In Washington D.C., an emergency meeting is called to determine how to react to the crisis. Present at the meeting is Dr. Strangelove, an ex-Nazi scientist who is now head of the United States' weapons development program. Meanwhile, aboard the bomber "Leper Colony", we are introduced to the crew that will play a vital role in the events about to transpire. Led by Major "King" Kong, these men are as loyal and anti-Communist as they come.

"Gentlemen, you can't fight in here. This is the War Room!" exclaims President Muffley when Turgidson and the Soviet Ambassador almost come to blows. This may be the best known line from Dr. Strangelove, but it isn't the only quotable one. Then there are the character names... In addition to Turgidson, Kong, Mandrake, Ripper, and Kissoff, there's also a Colonel Bat Guano and a General Faceman.

The genius of Dr. Strangelove is that it's possible to laugh -- and laugh hard -- while still recognizing the intelligence and insight behind the humour.

For his three roles (Dr. Strangelove, President Muffley and Captain Mandrake), Sellers was nominated for a Best Actor award.

It is a strange absurd movie on a hauntingly serious topic and Kubrick is probably the only person who could have pulled it off, and he did.

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Screenings of this film:

1973/1974 Summer Term (16mm)
1999/2000 Summer Term (35mm)
2005/2006 Spring Term (35mm)
2021/2022 Spring Term (35mm)
2021/2022 Spring Term (35mm)