Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Essential postwar American cinema, Hope-Crosby–style mirror-image of Fail-Safe, Rabelaisian Cold War slapstick -- Stanley Kubrick's first genuinely original movie has been seen, re-seen, dissected, and iconized, but a few sly truths about it have yet to be fully grokked by the aging mezzobrow filmgoers and mysterious AFI list-makers (it's been the third "Funniest" and the 26th "Greatest").

First, that the hard-charging originality of the screenplay -- think of it as the equivalent of turning The Hot Zone into an Apatow comedy -- suggests a deficient legacy of credit owed to Terry Southern's corner. Second, that 1964 was stunningly early for such a balls-out attack on anti-Communist jingoism (who was the Columbia exec responsible for the green light?). Third and most vital, that the essential source of the film's wit is the bald-faced equivalence of military-industrial ambition with giant, fat, erect cocks.

I saw this film multiple times as a young movie consumer before I understood that the entire atomic giggle-nightmare, from the bomb imagery to the characters' names, is an extended lampooning metaphor for big swingin' dicks, everywhere you look. It may be then the most viciously anti-patriarchal film ever made in Hollywood -- concluding as it does with the Splooge That Ends the World.

Credits

Director:

  • Stanley Kubrick

Cast:

  • Peter Sellers
  • George C. Scott
  • Sterling Hayden
  • Keenan Wynn
  • Slim Pickens
  • Peter Bull
  • Tracy Reed
  • James Earl Jones
  • Jack Creley
  • Frank Berry

Writers:

  • Stanley Kubrick
  • Terry Southern
  • Peter George

Producers:

  • Stanley Kubrick
  • Victor Lyndon

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