Dr. Strangelove (1964)
"Dr. Strangelove" or, to give its full title, "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" is possibly the only Kubrick film that I have enjoyed all the way through. Of all the Kurbick, it's the most sensible, the funniest, and produces the best performances from its actors. As opposed to the other works that I have seen by the director, "Strangelove" isn't edgy like "A Clockwork Orange", it isn't scary like "The Shining" and it isn't bizarre like "2001: A Space Odyssey". But you can tell that the director would go on to make these pictures from some of the choices he makes in "Strangelove", alas, nothing else measured up to this work.
Right in the thick of the Cold War, Kubrick and his team of writers spawned a very dark satire of politics that if anything, is quite nuclear.
The plot is hilariously jabbing—a general, obsessed with the idea that the Communists have infiltrated his precious, bodily fluids with their propaganda, sidesteps the dance of the politics and engages in plan R, an attack strategy that will effectively wipe out most of Russia.
His assistant, Mandrake, is trying desperately to gain the access to the code that will nullify the orders, but that isn't likely to happen seeing as the general is the only one who has them.
We have three main stories throughout "Strangelove", the man who launched the attack, the men who are completing the attack, and the men who are trying to keep the attack from happening.
"Strangelove" is a biting piece of comedy that remains frightfully truthful still today.
As opposed to Kubrick's other movies, this one is remarkably tame. There are no shocking visuals or graphic sexuality, don't forget that "A Clockwork Orange" was originally rated "X" when it was released. There is a coherent plot and the typical bizarre ending, but in a way that is totally justified and not disconnected.
Jack Nicholson seems to be at the pinnacle of the Kubrick ladder—that is, most people think that he delivers the best performance in a Kubrick picture as the crazy dad in "The Shining"...not so for me. Peter Sellers is the driving force of "Dr. Strangelove", playing three different roles that are completely indistinguishable from each other. From the British Mandrake to the President of the United States to the ex-Nazi Strangelove himself, Sellers steps into each role and makes the movie.
One of the funniest moments comes when a phone call is made from the United States to Russia...the dialogue is brilliant.
So, for me, "Strangelove" is Kubrick's best work. It will never age, the thought behind it becomes a little more clear with each viewing until you catch little tidbits that you missed the previous time.
The way that the movie is shot is a predecessor for all sorts of movies like "2001: A Space Odyssey" and even "Saving Private Ryan".
All that being said, "Dr. Strangelove" is not flawless. Kubrick has a tendency to drone on and some of the aerial scenes with planes on their way to bomb Russia go on way too long, but that's being picky.
The satire is not concealed at all, it's the bright, red, pulsating heart of the movie. It all boils down to the simplistically humorous famous line from the movie: "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here. This is the war room!"
Peter Sellers is the reason to see this movie.
Score: 3 and a half stars out of 4
Posted by Micah Jones