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

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(1964, directed by Stanley Kubrick)

- inducted 2015 –

"A well-worn trope that writers use for lessening the blow of horrific events is 'tragedy plus time equals comedy.' Released in the heart of the Cold War, it can be argued that Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb eliminated the time element from this equation, even though its structure mostly disguises a nightmare.

"Director Stanley Kubrick initially intended to make a thriller about the imminent threat of nuclear conflict. However, during marathon research sessions, he kept imagining chillingly humorous situations among the men who held the world’s fate in their hands.

"The comic elements of Strangelove walk a tightrope above a bottomless abyss, as reinforced by its production design and cinematography. From the expressionistic 'war room'/cathedral, to the dials and switches of a B-52 bomber, to the military base where a deranged general attempts to bypass protocol and invoke world war, the film portrays an admittedly heightened reality, but undeniably a recognizable one.

"Strangelove portrays a world where paranoia reigns, even to the point of madness. In order to explain his orchestrated enemy attack, Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) calls it a reaction to a Communist plot to poison American bodily fluids. Ripper’s only solution to overcoming pent-up fear is through war, which the film links to sexual release, symbolized by copulating planes or by Maj. 'King' Kong (Slim Pickens) delivering his phallic payload.

"Even with the ridiculous character names, Kubrick draws savage performances from Hayden, Pickens, and George C. Scott as Gen. 'Buck' Turgidson. The brilliant Peter Sellers delivers three unique caricatures, including the Nazi-inspired Dr. Strangelove, and President Merkin Muffley, whose 11th-hour phone conversation with the drunken Soviet premier remains a masterful skewering of U.S. foreign relations.

"The Cold War has ended, but the film still works, because conflict exists. Whether between nations or neighborhoods, conflict regularly threatens that which we consider dear. The lessons of Strangelove lie in recognizing how worry may actually play a part in our destruction. Upon dropping the bomb, a secret Soviet doomsday device triggers itself, and cannot be stopped. Although the leaders in the war room have devised a back-up plan to repopulate the world, the rest of us are powerless to avoid everything going to hell in a hand basket. If loving the bomb means succumbing to irrational fear, we can only hope Vera Lynn is right about some future sunny day."

~ Patrick Williamson

Principal cast: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn, Slim Pickens, Peter Bull, James Earl Jones, Tracy Reed
Screenplay by: Stanley Kubrick & Terry Southern & Peter George
Based on the book Red Alert by Peter George
Produced by: Stanley Kubrick
Executive producer: Leon Minoff (uncredited)
Associate producer: Victor Lyndon
Director of photography: Gilbert Taylor
Production design by: Ken Adam, Peter Burton (art direction)
Costume design by: Bridget Sellers (wardrobe)
Film editor: Anthony Harvey
Music by: Laurie Johnson
Makeup artist: Stewart Freeborn
Hairdresser: Barbara Ritchie
Sound by: John Cox (sound supervisor)
Titles designed by: Pablo Ferro (uncredited)
Special effects by: Wally Veevers
Aviator advisor: Capt. John Crewdson

USA/United Kingdom
Duration: 95 minutes
Languages: English, Russian
Filmed in black and white
Sound mix: Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Cinematographic process: Spherical
Aspect ratio: 1.66:1
Printed film format: 35mm

Produced by Columbia Pictures and Hawk Films
Released in USA by Columbia Pictures
Premiered in the United Kingdom and the USA on 29 January 1964

Awards and honors:
- 50th Anniv. Muriel Award
- National Film Registry selection, 1989
- Selected as one of Roger Ebert’s “Great Movies,” 11 July 1999
- Academy Awards (USA), 1964: Best Picture (nominated)
- Academy Awards (USA), 1964: Best Actor in a Leading Role, Peter Sellers (nominated)
- Academy Awards (USA), 1964: Best Director, Stanley Kubrick (nominated)
- Academy Awards (USA), 1964: Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material From Another Medium (nominated)
- BAFTA Film Awards, 1964: Best Film From Any Source (won)
- BAFTA Film Awards, 1964: Best British Film (won)
- BAFTA Film Awards, 1964: Best British Art Direction, B/W (won)
- BAFTA Film Awards, 1964: UN Award (won)
- BAFTA Film Awards, 1964: Best British Actor, Peter Sellers (nominated)
- BAFTA Film Awards, 1964: Best Foreign Actor, Sterling Hayden (nominated)
- BAFTA Film Awards, 1964: Best British Screenplay (nominated)
- DGA Awards, 1964: Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, Stanley Kubrick (nominated)
- WGA Awards, 1964: Best Written American Comedy (won)
- NYFCC Awards, 1964: Best Director, Stanley Kubrick (won)
- NYFCC Awards, 1964: Best Film (2nd place)
- NYFCC Awards, 1964: Best Screenplay (2nd place)