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Classic Film: Dr. Strangelove

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Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb


All is not quiet on the Western front. Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) has ordered the complete shutdown of Burpelson Air Force Base. All communication to the outside world is to be confiscated immediately. Soldiers are ordered to defend the base at all cost.

The General confides in Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers) of his plan. He has issued a secret military code to the B-52 bombers over the Soviet Union to strike their targets. However, this particular code was only to be issued if the enemy struck first, which they had not. Yet, General Ripper insists that the communist conspiracy is in full effect through fluoridation the water supply in the U.S. (Yes, really). He believes decisions pertaining to war should be left to Generals, not politicians.

In 1964, Director Stanley Kubrick chose to release a film so bizarre, yet so intriguing, the audience has the opportunity to laugh at a serious subject. Along with co-screenwriter, Terry Southern, they create a list of unusually-named characters and clever dialogue. A popular line would be: "You can't fight in here; this is the War Room!"

The entire cast, which includes George C. Scott, Slim Pickens, Peter Bull, and James Earl Jones, plays off of one another with great chemistry. Ultimately, Peter Sellers steals the show by successfully taking on the role of three different characters. The most memorable is Dr. Strangelove, himself.

Because of the nature of the dialogue and an intimate scene, this film is not for children. Still, it does not go beyond the lines of most audiences to enjoy. Unfortunately, a clear division is created between Russia, a former Nazi regime, and the United States. Those sensitive to these subjects may not appreciate the light-hearted manner in which certain characters are portrayed.

If nothing else, this film will start a healthy dialogue among viewers on how to prevent such a catastrophe and how people can learn from past mistakes to prevent future ones. And the weirdness begins with the official title of the film: "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb." Yes, really.

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