OTB#46: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb


I’ve seen this movie randomly like a handful of times — the last time was perhaps four years ago? So… I’m not super enthusiastic about watching it again now. I mean, it’s a movie that has a lot of amusing scenes and some great performances, but it’s one of those satire¹ films with a lot of plot to get through, so when you remember how each scene goes, it can get a bit annoying.

But here we go. I’m just giving you a heads up that I may be less enthusiastic here than … rationally expected.

It’s a good movie for heckling in a group… lots of memorable lines that you can shout back at the screen.

It’s a movie that’s all plot and manoeuvres…

What! Not 100%! Who are the dangerous rebels!

Oh, that’s a crank…

What’s that then?

Strangelove Drops Controversial Bomb

Feb. 20, 1964

By Philip K. Scheuer

This will be a minority report — critically speaking, at any rate. Before I was served up “Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” a publicist at Columbia, which is distributing the picture, assured me it would be my “cup of tea.” After suffering through two screenings of “Dr. Strangelove,” I would sooner drink hemlock…. To me, “Dr. Strangelove” is an evil thing about an evil thing; you will have to make up your own mind about it.

Oh, it’s not a review? Er… it’s very short…

The film is kinda comforting — I mean, the depiction of the president as a rational, effective person who can get things done without significant squabbles (except from the George C. Scott character) is very fairy tale like.

Well, I’m not surprised that Oliver Stone voted for this.

*slaps knee*

It’s a very quotable movie.

I do wonder what it was like watching this in 1964. Probably not much of a shock — you’d have “subversive” humour like this for a decade and a half at least — but perhaps unusual for a mainstream audience?

I mean, it’s satire¹.

It’s… I mean, Sellers’ performance is great (sorry if I’m being controversial here). But he’s so much better at this sort of thing that the other actors feel like amateurs. George C. Scott is up to the task of chewing the scenery in a satisfying way, but Sterling Hayden, for instance, is constantly shown up by Sellers.

It’s such a memorable movie — almost every scene seems iconic.

And it’s really really exciting — as it goes along, it gets more and more like a real thriller where we’re at the edge of our seats of our sofas.

It’s a pretty unusual film in that we’re (i.e., the audience) wants these nice people (who are kind of protagonists) to get killed.

And it’s fascinating how these guys are done — no gnashing of teeth or anything, but people doing their jobs professionally. If this movie had been made in 2023, we’d have gotten all their backstories and all their daddy issues and stuff, right?

Almost despite myself, I wound up enjoying watching this movie again — especially the last third. It’s just so memorable that the first half is just scenes that you’re waiting to happen, and the satire¹ is so heavy…

But let’s go with this throw of the die:

Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Stanley Kubrick. 1964.

This blog post is part of the Officially The Best 2022 series.

¹) “Satire” is code for “not actually funny”.

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