Friday, June 15, 2007

158 : Dr. Strangelove or : how I stopped worrying or learned to love the bomb

I wasn't expecting a lot from Dr. Strangelove , black comedy isn't my cup of tea usually, I probably wouldn't have made it past the credits if the film wasn't on the list. The opening sequence of a bomber being refuelled mid flight while a monotonous voice over tells us about rumours of a secret Russian Doomsday device.

In saying that the minute Peter Sellers appears on screen as Captain Mandrake (an RAF captain transferred to a US air force base) you know this is going to be an interesting movie.
I've only ever seen Sellers in the Pink Panther movies and Fu Manchu, he is absolutely brilliant in this film. He plays three roles, the aforementioned Mandrake who is the stereotypical british officer type who loses his composure as the film goes on, The president who valiantly struggles to keep the whole mess from escalating (but ultimately fails) and of course the eponymous Doctor. Theres not enough of the doctor, thats the only criticism I have of this film.

Dr. Strangelove is a top scientist who advises the war room, he is incredibly creepy and yet ridiculous . All strange ticks , odd smiles and an arm that wants to kill him apparently!

The basic premise is that a General (called Jack D. Ripper , the first in a line of dumb names including Colonel "Bat" Guanu and Mjr. "King" Kong) suspects the commies are poisoning "our precious bodily fluids" and decides to instigate a nuclear mission, reasoning the president will have to commit to an all out attack to avoid soviet retaliation. The president however endeavors to prevent the attack from succeeding by alerting the Russian.

There are three sets . The first is within General Rippers locked-down base (where the beleaguered Captain Mandrake is imprisoned. The second is the war room where the president ,General "Buck" Turgidson and the Russian Ambassador provide the entertainment ( "This is the war room! you can't fight in the war room") . And finally there is the bomber which is destined to drop the bomb.

(I'm assuming thats not a spoiler, The most iconic image from this movie is Slim Pickins riding the bomb to earth)

The war room is the centerpiece with the best gags and most cutting satire, the paranoid ("we cannot allow a mineshaft gap!" and Hardware ( "Buck" is clearly envious of the Russian doomsday device when its existence is revealed) obsessed military.

I was surprised to spot James Earl Jones in a minor role as the Bombadier of the plane crew,
the dvd indicates this was his first movie role.

I can't recommend this movie enough. It is brilliant.

p.s its also in black and white.

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