Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb

8.41 h 34 min1964X-RayPG
Wickedly dark comedy features Peter Sellers (in three roles) in the midst of impending nuclear war.Co-stars George C. Scott.
Stanley Kubrick
Peter SellersGeorge C. ScottSterling Hayden
Science FictionComedyDramaAction
English [CC]
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Supporting actors
Keenan WynnSlim PickensPeter BullTracy ReedJames Earl Jones
Stanley Kubrick
Columbia Pictures
PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
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4.7 out of 5 stars

5682 global ratings

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Top reviews from the United States

Peter OlafsonReviewed in the United States on January 23, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
Given the storyline about a madman igniting the end of the world ...
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... perhaps it’s not much of a surprise that I’ve kept coming back to Dr. Strangelove over the last few months.

But it’s not just the film’s newfound currency that makes me return. It’s a welcome opportunity to rediscover Stanley Kubrick as he came into his own. While I took pleasure in Spartacus and Lolita, those were Hollywood productions that (very sensibly) employed the budding director. By contrast, Dr. Strangelove was distinctly a Kubrick film with his thought and vision wholly intact.

It is fascinating to watch him deal with humor. (This would be his only comedy.) He’s careful in parceling it out. I especially love the exquisite restraint in the scenes between Sterling Hayden’s soberly off-the-deep-end General Jack Ripper and Sellers’ oh-so-upright Lionel Mandrake. I don’t know how the actors kept straight faces — would that there were outtakes here — but they did and their scenes are splendidly insane for the effort. Less is indeed more.

And that’s the rule for most of the distance: fly just under our radar. There are outright laughs, to be sure. Keenan Wynn whips out one of the film’s few overt punchlines and it’s hard not to smile at the clearly comic antics of George C. Scott’s riled-up, sputtering General Buck Turgidson.

But Sellers’ president, Slim Pickens’ bomber pilot and the ethos are conceived within this same essentially stoic spirit — effectively setting us up for Sellers’ (yes, again!) climactic appearance as Dr. Strangelove.

Arguably, the doctor is overdone. Arguably, he’s not even that funny. But I suspect that’s missing the point. He’s strategically overdone — a metaphorical bomb to roil the script’s placid surface at the critical moment. And at least at this level, it’s successful. The film detonates just ahead of the bomb and we’re on our way home.
57 people found this helpful
Tom BrodyReviewed in the United States on December 2, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
You will likely want to watch this movie every year or so, for the next 20 years. Clever and funny.
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DR. STRANGELOVE is a black and white movie about "The Bomb." The movie stars George C. Scott, Peter Sellers, and Slim Pickens. For those not familiar with Slim Pickens, countless Americans have been thrilled by his comedic charm in Spielberg's epic movie, 1941.George C. Scott plays General Turgidson, who is played in an exaggerated cartoonish manner. Sterling Hayden plays General Jack Ripper, who plays an unpleasant paranoid character, who likes to talk about "precious bodily fluids." General Jack Ripper eventually shoots himself in his quarters. Keenan Wynn plays Colonel Bat Guano, and in this movie, he resembles the principal in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. His "big scene" in this movie is to shoot a hole in a Coca Cola machine in order to get change for a pay telephone, and out of the hole comes a gush of soda that douses Colonel Bat Guano (in the same humiliating manner as the humiliation showered upon the principal in Ferris Bueller's Day Off). The Coca Cola scene occurs at 73 minutes.

Dr. Strangelove begins with an image of a remote island poking above the clouds, with the narration, "For more than a year, ominous rumors had been privately circulating among high level western leaders, that the Soviet Union had been at work on what was the ultimage weapon, a doomsday device. Intelligence sources traced the site of the top-secret Russian project . . . to the perpetually fog-shrouded wasteland below the Arctic peaks of the Zerkoff Islands . . . "

SEXY FUELING SCENE. Then, at the 75-second time point, begins footage showing the fueling by a tanker jet to a bomber. Some of the footage shows a side view of the two jets, which are connected to each other by the fueling tube. Some of the footage was shot where the camera was pointing out the rear fueling door of the tanker jet, and in this shot, the viewer is shown how the fueling pipe thrusts in and out and in and out of the receiving device of the bomber. The music is romantic Montovani music. After a couple of minutes of this amusing sexual innuendo, the plot starts.

We see an airforce base with radar antenna rotating, and a bomber taking off. Then we see a general conversing with Peter Sellars. "The base is being put on condition red . . . I'm afraid this is not an exercise . . . I'm afraid this is a shooting war," says the general. The general is General Jack Ripper.

At the 6-minute time point comes visually appealing footage of bombers flying over snowy mountain peaks. At 6 min, 30 sec, we see Slim Pickens in the pilot's seat in the cockpit of a bomber reading Playboy Magazine. At 8 min, his crew consults a codebook, and Slim Pickens and his crew discuss "Plan R." Slim Pickens converses with another crewman, saying: "Did you say using Attack Plan R? . . . how many times have I told you that I don't want no horsing around on the airplane . . . well I've been to one world's fair, one picnic, and a rodeo, and that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard coming over a set of earphones . . . you sure you got today's code? . . . there's just gotta be something wrong." Slim Pickens looks at the control panel which reads: FGD135. Then, he looks in the codebook, and notices that FGD135 matches up with Attack Plan R. At 9 min, 45 sec, we see fellow crewman James Earl Jones (as we know, he later played the voice of Darth Vader). At 10 min begins a steady drumbeat and trumpet playing, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." (This is on the soundtrack whenever we are shown the inside of Slim Pickens' jet bomber.) Slim Pickens says, "Well boys, I guess this is it. Nuclear combat, toe-to-toe with the Ruskies . . . look boys, I ain't much a hand at giving speeches . . . I have a fair idea of the personal emotions you might be thinking." (At this point, Slim Pickens has put on his cowboy hat, and he speaks into a microphone.)

BIKINI SCENE. Then, at 12 min, we are in General Turgeson's suite (played by George C. Scott) and the viewer is treated to many views of his secretary in a bikini. The two of them talk about Plan R. For three entire minutes, the viewer is treated to images of the slender secretary in a bikini. At 16 min, the scene returns to Peter Sellars in the computer room at an air force base, that is, at the same air force base where General Jack Ripper works.

BODILY FLUIDS. This movie has a few references to "precious bodily fluids." The first of these references occurs at 24 minutes in a talk in General Ripper's office by the general to Peter Sellars. At 46 min, General Ripper says this to Peter Sellars, "fresh pure water to replenish our precious bodily fluids." This takes place in a discussion about fluoridation being a Communist plot. At 56 minutes, the dialogue goes, "foreign substances introduced into our precious bodily fluids . . . that's the way a Commie works." At 60 min, Peter Sellars remarks that there was never anything wrong with his "bodily fluids."

SURVIVAL KIT. At 35 min, the scene changes from the tense situation in the war room, to the comedic situation in the bomber piloted by Slim Pickens. Comedy comes from the perusual of the items in the survival kit. The items include, vitamin pills, morphine pills, sleeping pills, Russian phrase book, Russian rubles, prophylactics, nylon stockings, etc. The sound track features a harmonica and snare drum. Slim Pickens remarks, "Shoot! A fella could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with that stuff!!!"

At 51 minutes, the character of Dr. Strangelove make his entrance, and the discussion is about the Doomesday Machine. Here, Dr. Strangelove (played by Sellers) speaks to the President of the United States (played by Sellers). At 61 minutes, General Ripper kills himself in the bathroom, thus bringing to a halt his chit-chat session with Peter Sellers. The scene then changes, and we are with Slim Pickens in his bomber. The problem is that a Russian missile approaches, and it damages the bomber. At this point, Peter Sellers needs to call the President of the United States, but he does not have change for the pay telephone, and the viewer is treated to the Coca Cola scene (described above). At 68 minutes, Slim Pickens continues to fly his damaged bomber and he says: "If we was flying any lower we'd need sleigh bells on this thing."

At 82 minutes, James Earl Jones notices a problem with the bomb bay doors. They won't open. So Slim Pickens decides to go down to the bomb bay to open them manually. Slim Pickens orders James Earl Jones to "fire the explosive bolts" but this does not work. And so, as the snare drums continue, and as the horns play "Johnny Comes Marching Home," Slim Pickens plays his very, very, famous "Yee-hawwww" scene by riding one of the nuclear bombs out of the bomb bay door, where it eventually explodes. Then, we hear the sone, "We'll Meet Again." The real reason I bought this movie was to see if it was the recording by The Byrds or the recording by Vera Lynn. I was disappointed to learn that it was Vera Lynn's recording, not the recording by The Byrds. Oh well.
28 people found this helpful
Wayne KleinReviewed in the United States on July 18, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Classic Kubrick black comedy receives deluxe 4K treatment.
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Stanley Kubrick’s dry black comedy “Doctor Strangelove” came to define the absurdity of the Cold War and assured mutual destruction. The novel plays the material pretty straight (Red Alert) and, at first, thar was Kubrick’s intention as well. The longer he worked with the material, the more he realized the insanity of the situation. Bringing in writer Terry Southern to highlight the absurdity and Peter Sellers for his comedic genius (although ironically Sellers would play straight man to Sterling Hayden’s General Jack D. Ripper), Kubrick also cast George C. Scott (who plays his role brilliantly but Kubrick had to trick him into playing his role more broadly by having Scott play the role broadly in early takes then informing Scott he had no intention of using them. He explained he was trying to eliminate that energy with later takes. He would also play chess with Scott on set. The reward-play it Kubrick’s way. Kubrick always won. Scott vowed to never work with him after “Strangelove’) and filling other key roles with actors who could play their roles with the brush of absurdity needed.

The 4K transfer of the film looks marvelous. The image quality is top notch with great delineation, depth and detail. Blacks are not crushed so there’s plenty of derail even in the War room. The HDR does provide better black and white images but they don’t provide the same benefit as a color film would. The audio remains true to its source (mono) and clear with dialog up front. English subtitles are provided.

The 4K includings the featurette “Stanley Kubrick Considers the Bomb”, interviews, The Today Show clips featuring Sellers and Scott, The special features are carried over from the previous Blu-Ray edition (and are included on the recycled Blu-Ray in the set).

Kubrick’s masterpiece of black comedy will continue to delight fans. This 4K is a terrific edition. Will you see a big difference compared to the Blu-Ray? It depends on your set up at home.
3 people found this helpful
hugh parkerReviewed in the United States on July 11, 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars
"You gonna let that lousy commie punk vomit all over us like this?"
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This is just the dumbest, silliest movie ever made. For those of us who lived through the constant ordeal with the USSR--it was hard for us, at first, to even believe our eyes and ears when this bombshell came out. We were used to hiding under chairs to protect ourselves from the impact and explosion of H-bombs. Talk about ridiculous. Put your hands behind your neck, and stand in a doorway if you don't have a basement. And that will stop the H-bomb from hurting you.

I was a kid in school who lived 50 or so miles from the biggest atomic weapons assembly plant on Earth, and when the school gave the three bell signal for an atomic weapons drill, me and my friends would just look at each other, and laugh out loud. We knew the "commies" would hit our nuclear facility as fast as possible, and if you thought the shades on the concrete in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bad, an H-bomb would make that look like a dance in the park.

Anyway, you don't have to be a geezer to love this movie. Every single part was played to perfection by every actor. It's weird when that happens at all, and especially weird with all the big name people in this film. If you haven't seen Dr. Strangelove, you'll want to watch it again pretty soon, since you'll lose a lot of watching time the first time from laughing. And another watch will help you hear what the lunatics in the movie are actually saying, layering one pile of gibberish on top of another. If you know this film, then, well...you know.
43 people found this helpful
joel wingReviewed in the United States on January 11, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Kubrick's opus on the absurdity of the Cold War
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Most will probably say 2001: A Space Odyssey is Stanley Kubrick’s greatest film but I disagree. Dr. Strangelove I believe is his opus. That’s not only because it’s got hilarious moments but it captures how ridiculous and dangerous the Cold War was. The movie focuses upon General Jack Ripper (Sterling Hayden) deciding to start World War III by having his bombers attacking the Soviet Union and the U.S. government led by President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers) trying to stop him.

General Ripper is laid out like a nut job talking about the Communists wanted Americans’ precious bodily fluids. He also said that putting fluoride in the water was a Communist plot. Ideas like that were actually talked about quite often by groups like the John Birch Society which was very popular amongst Republicans during the Cold War.

After Ripper’s actions General Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott) argues that the U.S. should launch an all out first strike on the Soviets because America would have a good chance of winning. He tells the president only 10-20 million people would die in the United States as a result and he thought that was an acceptable number for victory. We now know that in the 1950s-60s the U.S. military planned for a pre-emptive strike on Moscow and even talked about it with President Kennedy.

This is what Kubrick was able to portray so well in his film. The Cold War fostered all kinds of crazy ideas that threatened the destruction of the planet.

With all that seriousness Kubrick was able to throw in plenty of dry humor. General Turgidson for example tackles the Soviet Ambassador and the president tells them, “You can’t fight in here this is the war room.” Another time Dr. Strangelove also played by Peters tells the president that Americans could go into mine shafts to avoid the nuclear holocaust. It would just take around 100 years before they could come out which starts General Turgidson talking about the U.S. having to secure their mine shafts first before the Russians did it. The light moments are what keep the story going with the serious subject matter.

All together this is what makes Dr. Strangelove a classic and a great representation of the Cold War era.
4 people found this helpful
The All-Seeing IReviewed in the United States on May 25, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Master Class in Eviscerating Satire
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Released a half-century prior to our pandemic, the perverse notion of acceptable casualties raised in Stanley Kubrick's darkly uproarious “Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” has lent this eviscerating satire a queasy contemporary resonance. Filmed following the Cuban Missile Crisis, "Strangelove" leverages nuclear annihilation to lay bare the truth of our human condition: None of us are as dumb as all of us.

While the film’s direction, casting, and knife-sharp intelligence are each fingerprint traits, it’s arguably the presence of Peter Sellers -- playing three roles -- which sets apart “Strangelove” as the gold standard of cinematic satire. All at once, Sellers is a British liaison officer, the President of the United States, and a German scientist, each delivered with searing conviction, gleefully dark humor, and total absurdity.

Whether it’s a virus or The Bomb, our collective inanity seems destined to hang in with us until the end. No movie more joyously reminds us of that misfortune than the immense “Dr. Strangelove.” - (Was this review of use? If so, let me know by clicking "Helpful." Cheers!) WATCHED IT? THEN WATCHLIST: [[ASIN:B0014C3KN2 "Blazing Saddles,"]] [[ASIN:B07JVSYPZ7 "Stadium Anthems."]]
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w. c. mansonReviewed in the United States on February 6, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
should prompt today's viewers to study the Cold War nuclear arms race
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Trillions were spent on tens-of-thousands of nuclear weapons, fueled by a constant "threat-inflation" which hugely benefited the coffers of Lockheed et al. The idea of "acceptable mortality" of millions of citizens, in order to "win" such a war, was indeed voiced by respected scientists of the time such as Herman Kahn. "Gen. Turgidson's" views on first-strike policy are actually moderate--in contrast to the real Air Force Chief of Staff in the Sixties, Gen. Curtis Le May, who relentlessly advocated first-strike nuclear annihilation of the USSR (as well as bombing Vietnam "back to the Stone Age"). Nuclear scientist Edward Teller held similar views, and served as a major adviser right into the Reagan years. (An excellent biography of Teller is entitled "The Real Dr. Strangelove," but Nazi V-1 rocket developer Wernher von Braun, the key figure in U.S. ballistic missiles and NASA, also influenced the composite characterization of "Strangelove.")
Richard Rhodes' book "Arsenals of Folly" provides an outstanding historical overview of the period, and William Hartung's "Prophets of War" details the dominant position of Lockheed in the military-industrial complex, right up to the present.
2 people found this helpful
James L. BallReviewed in the United States on June 17, 2018
4.0 out of 5 stars
Great movie, mediocre transfer.
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This is a 5 star movie trapped in a 3 star DVD transfer. While some recent reviews call it dated I feel it is as relevant and pithy as the year it was released, 1964, Like a fine wine it seems to be aging gracefully and the black satire is still funny and scary at the same time. Every actor, from Peter Sellers turn at 3 pivotal rolls, George C. Scott as Gen. Turgedson, Sterling Hayden's delusional Gen. Jack D. Ripper, Slim Pickens previewing the comic chops he will display later in "Blazing Saddles", his final scene is an absolute hoot. All involved are at their peak with a fantastic script by Director Stanley Kubrick, Terry Southern, and the original source material author, Peter George's "Red Alert". Every aspect of the movie is assembled with great care. From the fantastic war room and B-52 sets through the film score which wafts in and out to great effect. From the opening credits of multiple bombers in the air flying to the soft strings of a Nelson Riddle style mellow score, through repetitive use of a Civil War marching song, to the final scene of exploding nuclear bombs to "We'll Meet Again", seamless. A truly haunting ending rivaled only by Stanley Kramer's finale in "On the Beach", 1959, of a banner swaying silently in the wind with the words "There's Still Time" emblazoned on it. A must see for film buffs, Kubrick and Sellers fans, and end of the world conspiracists, Now the downside. While the sound track is delivered flawlessly, there was no attempt to clean up the film it was transferred from. Lots of dust and occasional scratches, and a bit contrasty in the B & W transfer. There may be cleaned up copies available but this is not one of them. But the price was right and totally serviceable. Sure, in the age of CGI the effects are primitive, but it is the story and the presentation which propels this into a true classic. I recommend you make this a double feature night with the more serious look at the same scenario, also based on the same book, Sidney Lumet's "Fail-Safe", also 1964. Compare scene for scene differences like Henry Fonda as the President talking to the Soviet Premier on the phone, to Peter Seller's Pres. Merkin Muffley, and the flyboys in both bombers heading towards their inevitable mission. Both movies have the same purpose to frighten us about the possibility of accidental total devastation, but reach it from radically different perspectives. Both deserve repeat viewings.
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