Dr Strangelove (USA 1964)

Overrated mis-fire by the overrated, rather soulless, Stanley Kubrick. I have seen most of his output and find them cold and uninvolving with the exceptions of 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining and The Killing. Well, they are cold too, but quite involving. But, as entertainment, Dr Strangelove falls down badly (and movies should be entertaining even when thought-provoking). So what exactly is wrong with this waste of celluloid? (I wildly disagree with Elvis Presley, who reportedly thought this was the best flick he’d ever seen.)

Firstly, Peter Sellers is over used in three roles, although he is impressive playing one of them. The title character is not the one I’m referring to: a Jewish-looking Nazi idiot named Strangelove is way too obvious to score any points as a comic character. Some people say its a clever impersonation of Henry Kissinger, but he was unknown to the general public in 1964. Dr Strangelove comes across as a pantomime villain. He is about as subtle as an oil tanker. The whole thing is too ponderous to succeed as “satire” and just shows how arrogant and pretentious Stanley Kubrick was. The characters do not interact in a natural, human way. They are cardboard cut outs. Everything about this tasteless mess is stiff and awkward.

George C Scott is supposed to be funny as Buck Turgidson, but he just comes across as a narcissistic mean-spirited ass. Sellers plays the effeminate foil to this hyper-masculine war monger. He’s President Merkin Muffley, a bald, small man unable to commit to combat and constantly seeking to “work with the enemy”. General Jack D Ripper (a sterling performance from Sterling Hayden) is a manic US general who orders a nuclear attack on Russia. Who will stop this mad Yankee on his apocalyptic power trip? Enter Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers, at last giving us a funny and touching character ) who tries to stop Ripper, but is himself too weak and effeminate (too British?) to overpower the psychotic general.

                                                  (Look out!…its George C Schmuck)

Mandrake, a nervous flight commander with a broken leg, frequently stammers and proves not “masculine” enough to overpower the deranged Ripper. This tension between masculine/feminine/creation/destruction permeates the nightmarish proceedings. On the other side of the Atlantic we join Major Kong, a George Bush–like Texan warmonger played by redneck actor, Slim Pickens. His B52 bomber is zeroing in on a Russian base at La Putta (the whore). Unfortunately, a Russian missile damages the aircraft’s radio and they are unable to receive the recall code. Next stop is Armeggedon! When Kong reaches his target, he dry humps the bomb down to ground zero. This is supposed to have you rolling in the aisles.

But it’s just not funny. You wonder what all those film critics were on when declaring this to be a masterpiece. There is one amusing scene that involves Keenan Wynn, Captain Mandrake and a Coca Cola machine. And that was it for me, regarding any high points. The Cold War and military politics are not endearing topics, particularly now, so a certain dated pomposity induces viewer fatigue. And it is so dialogue–heavy in the most monotonous of ways it will put most of its audience to sleep. Or persuade them to hit the stop/eject buttons. Sellers and Kubrick should have been ashamed of this product. Nuclear war is only funny to mentally sick, dried up old prunes. Like Henry Kissinger. To sum up then: Dr Strangelove sucks! 🙂

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Comments

  1. While I respect your opinion, I totally disagree, “Dr. Strangelove” is political satire at it’s best, with outstanding performances by all. But, to each his own.

    Like

  2. Thanks for your take on this film, I haven’t seen it yet but will definitely keep your comments in mind when I watch it in the future!

    Liked by 1 person

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