Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is a (pardon the following puns) buckish, ripping, almost as strange as a real life yarn, with a story line as big as the Empire State Building-climbing gorilla himself. A little love is saluted along the way, jokes coming at the speed of sound with not the slightest hint of residual guano oder. From start to finish its all in good fun with no surliness. Some have called it a Black-comedy but I like to think of it more as shadowy or shall we say nightshade like amusement. Putting aside my humorous bent in this first paragraph, Dr. Strangelove is an acerbic, brilliant, darkly funny film, treading paths that few stories have dared to walk in; in a few words more: a Stanley Kubrick movie.
Every aspect of Strangelove was masterfully crafted, each participant making the most of what was given them. Cinematographer Gilbert Taylor, makes stark use of the black and white photograpy, Ken Adam (production design) and Peter Murton (art direction) provide a cold vision for director Kubrick’s characters to occupy, while spouting the sublimely ridiculous words of writers Terry Southern and Peter George, underscored by Laurie Johnson’s music, all of this deftly handled by editor Anthony Harvey.
I first saw Dr. Stragelove on the big-screen at the Sombrero Playhouse, a revival-theater, in Phoenix, AZ, in the late 1970’s, along with my repeated at home viewings my respect and adoration for this film seems to grown rather than remaining in stasis. Few movies have received that kind of love and attention from me, placing it along side the likes of Vertigo, Sullivan’s Travels and Citizen Kane as part of an ever blooming bouquet of celluloid-roses, always fresh, fragrant, long-stemmed, nary a thorn to detract, with petals delicate, yet, resilient to repeated embraces; Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is a powerful piece of picture production which stands the test of time.
Notes on the side: Slim Pickens as Major “King” Kong’s makes a statement regarding the survival kit, which was filmed as “A fella could have a pretty good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff”, but when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, “Dallas” was overdubbed with “Vegas”, if you watch closely you can still see Pickens “Kong” mouth the word “Dallas”.
James Earl Jones’ thought Slim Pickens was remaining “in character” off camera, until he was told that Pickens wasn’t immersed in the character of Major King Kong, that’s the way he always talked.
Peter Sellers became the first actor who was nominated for an Academy Award (Best Actor) for a film in which he appeared as three different characters.
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, holds the record for the longest title for a Best Picture nominee or winner, at 13 words.
By C. S. Williams