by Vi Burgess, executive editor


“I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion, and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids!”

Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 black-and-white classic, “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Atomic Bomb” just gets odder from there. Starring Peter Sellers in three major roles (Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, President Merkin Muffley, and Dr. Strangelove–if you look closely, they’re never in the same shot), the basic storyline mocks the Cold War hysteria at its height.

The film begins with a general who orders his wing units to nuke Russia in a fail-safe program that ironically backfires. The catch? If one bomb is detonated, the so-called “Doomsday Device” built in Russia is detonated to bring an end to the human race. The classic is set in three places: on a plane that receives orders to bomb two bases in Russia, the Air Force Base in the United States and the War Room supposedly in the Pentagon.

However, it is a comedy at heart. The acting is stellar and over-the-top, each character outrageously personifying stereotypes: a cowboy who goes out literally riding a nuclear bomb, the arrogant Brit who thinks everyone is basically insane, the All-American 60’s general with obsessive patriotism and aggression, and the mad ex-Nazi political adviser/scientist who somehow is a trusted resource to the clueless, pacifying president.

Even better is the equally ridiculous dialogue, from our precious bodily fluids to imperialist stooges to preverts (from the deliberate pronunciation). In addition, the film is shot in black and white; far from being fuzzy and lacking, the entire movie is expertly framed and shot so the shadows contrast perfectly with the light. More aesthetically, the credits are in a beautiful, hand-drawn font, and the music (by Laurie Johnson) captures the era perfectly, yet manages to change the tone when switching from setting to setting.

Nevertheless, the classic has some flaws. Though satirical, the relegation of women to quite literally, innocent sexual objects who are not capable of functioning without men, leaves a lot to be desired. Additionally, the plot seems slow-moving at first to those who aren’t paying the utmost attention. However, despite its minor flaws, Dr. Strangelove is a semi-forgotten classic well-worth two hours for its sharp wit and impeccable composition.