Considering the title is rather long to type out continually I’ll just refer it to: “Dr. Strangelove”.
In 1964, Kubrick released his 7th and some would argue his most popular and loved film “Dr. Strangelove” starring Peter Sellers, George C. Scott & Sterling Hayden. The film is a satire of the nuclear scare between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The story tells us of a USAF general who orders a first nuclear attack on the Soviet Union and follows the US president and his staff attempting to stop the attack from preventing a nuclear apocalypse.
- Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers)
Mandrake is a British exchange officer who serves as General Jack D. Ripper’s (Sterling Hayden) executive officer and is ordered by General Ripper to order the attack to US aircraft and place the base on alert.
- President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers)
President Muffley is intially by General Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott) about the proposed attack. Turgidson tells the Muffley that the bombers are en route as they speak and only the recall code will help.
- Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers)
Dr. Strangelove is a wheelchair-bound former Nazi and nuclear war expert. Dr. Strangelove suggests a possible nuclear fallout survival method of placing thousands of people down mine shafts where the nuclear fallout cannot reach and suggesting a sex ratio of “ten females to each male”.
- General Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott)
An extreme patriot and hyperactive General who does not trust the Soviet ambassador during President Muffley’s direct phone calls in the “War Room”.
- General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden)
The name given to Hayden’s character is based of a London murderer in the 19th century called “Jack the Ripper”. General Ripper is the commander of Burpelson Air Force Base of B-52 bombers. He orders his executive officer Mandrake to place an attack order to US aircraft.
- Major T. J “King” Kong(Slim Pickens)
Major Kong serves as the B-52 Stratofortress bomber’s commander and pilot.
“The War Room”
Dr. Strangelove was filmed at Shepperton Studios, London. One of the reasons being that Peter Sellers was in the middle of a divorce and was unable to leave England. The sets were split into three main sound stages; the War Room, the B-52 bomber and last containing the motel room and General Jack D. Ripper’s office.
For the War Room, production designer Ken Adam constructed what is known as an expressionist set that compared to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. The concrete built room was 130 feet long, 100 feet wide and a ceiling height of 35 feet that suggested a bomb or underground shelter.
During filming of “Dr. Strangelove”, Kubrick learnt that Sidney Lumet was in the process of making “Fail Safe” starring Henry Fonda and Walter Matthau. Kubrick realised that the resemblence of the plot would damage his film financally and critically. The novel “Fail Safe” in which the film “Fail Safe” is based very closey resembled the novel “Red Alert” in which “Dr. Strangelove” was based on. Author of “Red Alert” Peter George sued the filmmakers of plagiarism and the case was settled out of court. Kubrick argued that indeed the novel had been plagiarised from “Red Alert”. Kubrick had owned creative rights and pointed the similarites of the characters. “Fail Safe” opened eight months before “Dr. Strangelove” and received some critical acclaim but average box office sales
When “Dr. Strangelove was released it was met with critical acclaim and to this day has being ranked as one the greatest comedy films ever made. In 2004, Total Film magazine voted “Dr. Strangelove” as 24th greatest comedy film of all time. It currently holds 100% score on internet movie site “Rotten Tomatoes” and 35th on IMDb’s Top 250 list. Film critic Roger Ebert has placed “Dr. Strangelove” in his “Great Movies” list.
- Best Actor in a Lead Role - Peter Sellers (nominated)
- Best Director - Stanley Kubrick (nominated)
- Best Picture - Stanley Kubrick (nominated)
- Best Adapted Screenplay - Stanley Kubrick, Peter George, Terry Southern (nominated)
- Best British Film - Stanley Kubrick (won)
- Best Film From Any Source - Stanley Kubrick (won)
- Best British Actor - Peter Sellers (nominated)
- Best Foreign Actor - Sterling Hayden (nominated)
- Best British Art Direction - Ken Adam (won)
- Best British Screenplay - Stanley Kubrick, Peter George, Terry Southern (nominated)
[Stanley Kubrick (left) with Peter Sellers (right) on set of “Dr. Strangelove”]