Friday, April 17, 2015

Director Week: Stanley Kubrick- Dr. Strangelove

How do all and welcome back for Day 3 of Director Week via Stanley Kubrick. Well our boy has tackled some taboo, some terror and adventure. So how about a dark comedy? Yes a satire depicting our planetary leaders in the midst of a Cold War nuclear crisis, in which Peter Sellers is brilliant in. This is Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Mein Fuhrer, I can smirk!

With heightened paranoia as the order of the day, U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden of The Asphalt Jungle,The Killing, Hard Contact, The Godfather, The Long Goodbye and 1900) commanding SAC (Strategic Air Command) has recently discovered there is fluoride in the water which in his addled mind must mean... a Communist plot to deplete the American's precious bodily fluids. If you were expecting a hyperbole or punchline, no that is an actual line in this movie.

Ripper gets on the horn with his XO (Executive Officer) RAF Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers of Only Two Can Play, Lolita, The Wrong Arm of the Law, The Pink Panther, A Shot in the Dark and Casino Royale) who puts the base on full alert, has the B-52 bomber loaded with 40 megatons of radioactive fun for all the Soviet boys and girls but realizes that Bomber Plan R can only be implemented if the higher command has been obliterated. Meanwhile in the War Room, President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers) is reviewing how our bombers could have been sent out and demand an immediate recall back to base.

But enough about nuclear arms, look at those gams.

Confabbing with General Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott of The Hustler, Patton, Rage, Bank Shot, The Changeling, Firestarter, A Christmas Carol and The Exorcist III) who flim flams about how the American Military's diligence to duty is what makes the country so great that they cannot radio the bomber to simply stand down as it can only utter a new code from the CRM-114 of 3 letters and only the Brigadier has that code. Trying to get the Premier on the phone shows to be difficult as they must correct this oversight.

Well the Army spring into action to overrun the Air Force base, The President consults with his scientific advisor, the former Nazi, Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers) starts calculating the potential fallout of the impeding nuclear holocaust that awaits them if they go underground, stockpile nuclear energy, gather several hundred thousand people and prep a breeding program to save the human race. Naturally the ratio of female to male would be 10 to 1 but that is just good math. Will the bomb drop? Can we avoid this horrible future? Will the word "Commie" be stuck in my head all day?

Some interesting tidbits about the film.   George C. Scott was annoyed with Stanley Kubrick getting him to overact his role. While vowing to never work with Kubrick, even Scott had to see that was an amazing performance. It has been a rumor confirmed fact that Peter Sellers improved most of his lines and Kubrick encouraged him to do so. Major Kong's line about the survival kit was originally "A fella could have a pretty good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff". It was decided that Dallas would be overdubbed with Vegas due to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The film was set to be released on 1963 but that same assassination would be foremost in American minds so they waited the next year. As research for the film, Kubrick read nearly 50 books on nuclear war.

Extreme close-ups are never that extreme!!!