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Author Topic: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)  (Read 221 times)
cigar joe
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« on: June 08, 2017, 04:57:59 AM »

Nuclear Noir - Satiric Masterpiece

"It doesn't get any Noir-er than The Apocalypse."



You had to have been there. The 1960s. I was a kid growing up in NYC. You couldn't help but get the feeling that you were living in the biggest bullseye on the planet. If anyplace was destined for the sobriquet "Ground Zero" it was Manhattan. The Cold War was about to boil over. The Cuban Missile Crisis and reactions to it had a way of focusing anxiety.

I remember doing nuclear attack drills in school. A bell would go off and we'd all hunker down under our desks, as if that was going to be any help. I sure this was the spark that really ignited the counterculture revolution. It got slapped into overdrive. The supposed "grown-up" were totally fucking nuts. If we don't shuck off all this institutional bull shit fast we may never enjoy life. If it feels go do it, and if you don't "do it" now you may never get to do it. We who went out, stopped worrying and "did it" all owe a big thanks to all the politico wackos of the world.

I'm reminded of a poster for sale in a Times Square Playland, it was a copy of an official Department Of Civilian Defence Notice, all the steps to take in case of a Nuclear Bomb Attack, with one added step.



You had to have been there. The film can still be enjoyed, but if you were actually there and were exposed to the hysteria it has an extra informed poignancy.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb was directed, produced, and co-written by Stanley Kubrick (Killer's Kiss (1955), The Killing (1956)). The screenplay was written by Kubrick, Terry Southern (uncredited for The Collector (1965)), and Peter George (Fail-Safe (1964)), author of the novel Red Alert.  The film is an obvious spoof of Fail Safe (1964) a thriller about human and computer errors that snowball into a nuclear attack on Moscow by a squadron of American 'Vindicator' bombers.


Aerial refueling title sequence

Cinematography was by Gilbert Taylor (Seven Days to Noon (1950), Circle of Danger (1951), High Treason (1951), Stop Me Before I Kill! (1960), The Bedford Incident (1965), The Omen (1976), Flash Gordon (1980)). Music was by Laurie Johnson (The Avengers TV Series (19611969)).

The film stars Peter Sellers (Never Let Go (1960)) in three parts, Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, a British RAF exchange officer, President Merkin Muffley, the President of the United States, and Dr. Strangelove, the wheelchair-using nuclear war expert and former Nazi. George C. Scott (Anatomy of a Murder (1959), The Hustler (1961), Naked CityTV Series (19581963), Hardcore (1979)) as General Buck Turgidson. Sterling Hayden (Classic Film Noir veteran) as Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper, Keenan Wynn (Song of the Thin Man (1947), Shack Out on 101 (1955), Touch of Evil (1958), Point Blank (1967), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), ) as Colonel Bat Guano. Slim Pickens (The Getaway (1972)) as Major T. J. "King" Kong. Peter Bull (The African Queen (1951)) as Soviet Ambassador Alexei de Sadeski, James Earl Jones as Lieutenant Lothar Zogg, Tracy Reed (A Shot in the Dark (1964)) as Miss Scott, General Turgidson's secretary and mistress, and Shane Rimmer as Capt. Ace Owens, the B-52 co-pilot.


Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (Sellers)


US President Merkin Muffley (Sellers)


Dr. Strangelove (Sellers)

A United States Air Force Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper goes off his nut and orders the Strategic Air Command 843rd Bomb Wing, equipped with B-52 bombers and nuclear bombs to leave their fail safe positions and attack the USSR with "Wing Attack Plan R."


General Jack D. Ripper (Hayden)

Group Captain Mandrake quickly discovers that no war order has been issued by the President. Ripper tells Mandrake that he personally ordered the attack after he discovered a Communist plot to pollute Americans' "precious bodily fluids." Ripper also tells Mandrake that he believes the Soviets have been using the fluoridation of water supplies to pollute the "precious bodily fluids" of Americans and that he came to this conclusion during "the physical act of love."

When Mandrake decides to order the Bomb Wing back, Ripper shows Mandrake a Colt automatic and locks them both in his office.  Mandrake now realizes that Ripper is insane.


General Buck Turgidson (Scott)

At the Pentagon, USAF General Buck Turgidson briefs President Merkin Muffley and other staff officers about how Plan "R" enables a senior officer to launch a strike against the Soviets if Washington, D.C. is nuked.

Muffley orders a US Army general to order an attack the SAC base and arrest General Ripper. Turgidson then jingoistically tries to persuade President Muffley to order an all out first strike against
the USSR. Muffley instead decides to bring in Soviet ambassador Alexei de Sadeski down into the Top Secret War Room, to telephone Soviet premier Dimitri Kissov on the "hot line" to give him a heads up on the looming catastrophe. Muffley also gives Kissov the list of primary and secondary targets so that the Soviet air defences can shoot them down.

When U.S. Army Colonel Bat Guano finally takes the SAC base he discovers that Ripper has blown his brains out and that Muffley may have discovered the vital three letter code to relay to the Bomb Group to turn them back.

Of the thirty four B52s on attack, thirty are turned back and four are reported shot down, except that one is just damaged, with its communications devices destroyed and leaking fuel. It's under the command of Major King Kong who shows some ingenuity and  heads it for the nearest target of opportunity. If Kong's B52 should successfully bomb that target it will trigger what ambassador de Sadeski calls a "Doomsday Device," an underground nuclear bomb cache consisting of multiple "Cobalt-Thorium G" tipped warheads. The device is connected to a massive computer network that will automatically detonate if any bombs fall on the USSR, and will shroud the Earth in a blanket of radioactive clouds, killing all surface life and making it uninhabitable for 93 years. This device cannot be disconnected it is programmed to explode if tried.

Continued.......

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« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2017, 04:58:34 AM »

Continuing....

Of course Major King Kong in John Wayne mode displays some good ol' American, can do, hands on,  know how and everything goes apocalyptically Noirsville.

[size=12pt]Noirsville[/size]
















Lieutenant Lothar Zogg (Jones)




Soviet Ambassador Alexei de Sadeski (Peter Bull) 






Colonel Bat Guano (Wynn)



Major T. J. "King" Kong: Well, boys, we got three engines out, we got more holes in us than a horse trader's mule, the radio is gone and we're leaking fuel and if we was flying any lower why we'd need sleigh bells on this thing... but we got one little budge on them Rooskies. At this height why they might harpoon us but they dang sure ain't gonna spot us on no radar screen!



General "Buck" Turgidson: If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!





The film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Director, and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.

Sellers is spot on in his various roles, his inspiration for Mandrake was his spoofs during WWII of his RAF officers, his gifts for mimicry aided his Mid-Western accent for President Muffley and the German accent for Dr. Strangelove. Sterling Hayden should have won an Oscar for the portrayal of the alienated, obsessed, and absolutely mad General Jack D. Ripper. George C. Scott was excellent as enthusiastically morbid Buck Turgidson. I'll also give a loud shout out to Slim Pickens, a real hoot to watch as Major King Kong.

The design of the film is dark and at times very claustrophobic, shots of stark, barren, arctic wastelands juxtaposed against the cramped confines of the B52s cockpit, fuselage, and the mausoleum like "War Room." In other sequences B52s in flight appear to delicately be having sex as they refuel in mid air, while nuclear explosions take on an eerie bizarre beauty.









The gravity of the story and the absurdity of situations are satirized brilliantly. Hey what's changed, the more things change the more they stay the same, look at the circus in Washington today. Screencaps are from the Columbia Pictures Special Edition 2001 DVD. 10/10

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« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2017, 06:37:36 AM »

 Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin

I'm waiting for you to include: La strada (noir with homicide), La dolce vita (noir with plurihomicide, plenty noirsville), Il bidone (crime movie, lots of noirsville), Le notti di Cabiria (crime and noirsville) and 8 and 1/2. Well , in the latter there are no murders or crimes, but I trust you can devise a formula to label it noir anyway.

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cigar joe
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« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2017, 07:39:03 AM »

Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin

I'm waiting for you to include: La strada (noir with homicide), La dolce vita (noir with plurihomicide, plenty noirsville), Il bidone (crime movie, lots of noirsville), Le notti di Cabiria (crime and noirsville) and 8 and 1/2. Well , in the latter there are no murders or crimes, but I trust you can devise a formula to label it noir anyway.

I agree Italian noirs have a humorous vein,  Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin

I would say Ossessione (1943), Riso amaro (1949), La Strada (1954), Il Grido (1957), give me that noir vibe, Le notti di Cabiria also.  I don't get the vibe from 8 1/2 or La Dolce Vita. I don't remember if I've seen Il Bidone (1955), but I'll check it out.  Afro Afro Afro Afro Afro Afro Afro Afro Afro Afro Afro

« Last Edit: June 08, 2017, 01:43:07 PM by cigar joe » Logged

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