Monday, March 21, 2016

AFI Top 100, #26: "Dr. Strangelove" (1964)

Movie Stats:
Released 1964 (UK & USA same day)
American & British, in English (minor non-translated Russian)
Director - Stanley Kubrick
Stars - Peter Sellers, George C. Scott

Plot Summary:
When Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden), Commie-obsessed and crazy, sets a nuclear war against the Russians in motion, his subordinate, Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (Sellers) and the U.S. President Merkin Muffley (also Sellers) try to stop it from happening. At the same time, the dim-witted and pro-violence General Buck Turgidson (Scott) champions the war.

Violence; ethnic slurs; implied sexy times.

Bad Stuff:
I thought it was dull.

It had its moments, but wasn’t nearly as amusing/entertaining as I thought it would be.

The special effects were atrocious.

Good Stuff:
Sellers is fantastic. In addition to Mandrake and Muffley, he also plays German scientist Dr. Strangelove. I think Muffley was my favorite. I didn’t even realize it was Sellers until about halfway through the film. Also thought Scott was great in his role.

I enjoyed how ridiculous the bureaucracy of the military/government was. It was so spot-on.

It’s the perfect zeitgeist for the histrionic Red Scare period of U.S. history.

The Verdict:
In its day, it was impressively relevant. Watching it now, it’s more of  a curiosity. I was alive for the tale end of anti-Communist hysteria (15 when the Berlin Wall fell) and sometimes it feels like a weird dream. “I spent my childhood in fear of nuclear annihilation?” I’ll think to myself. It hardly seems possible. This film reminded me of what those days were like. I expected to like a lot more than I actually did. Like, everyone I know loves it, and most of them have pretty good taste, so I thought I would love it too. I didn’t love it. I didn’t hate it. I don’t exactly feel neutral toward it either. My feelings trend more toward the positive side, but not enough to add it to my “must see” list.

I give it 3.5 stars.


Patricia said...

Well, you aren't selling it to me, either. :-)

It is weird to think about the fact we could all blow up at any moment. Remember that video, maybe from the Sledgehammer guy, and at the end it shows the Reagan as puppets and he accidentally blows everything up?

Update. I did some googling and it was actually a Genesis song. Here's the Wikipedia link:

I'm not linking to the actual song because I do not like it.

balyien said...

Haha, I love that video! And the song.

The teenager inside me was amused that one character's name was a reference to lady bits (Merkin Muffley) while another's was a reference to man bits (Turgidson).