Wednesday, January 29, 2014



George C. Scott 
as General Merkin Muffley
Columbia Pictures (1964)

London (JFK+50) Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, a British-American black comedy film, premiered 50 years ago today, January 29, 1964.

The film, based on the 1958 novel Red Alert by Peter George, is a satire of the Cold War and fear of the threat the use of nuclear weapons by the superpowers.

The primary focus of Dr. Strangelove is the paranoia wrought by the concept of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) where the main deterrent of a nuclear war was the realization that both superpowers, as well as the planet, could be destroyed by a war involving the use of nuclear weapons.

The film portrays an air force general who has inadvertently ordered a first strike on the USSR without authorization from the President of the United States and the efforts of the Commander-in-chief and his advisers, along with a Royal Air Force officer, to recall the bombers.

Doctor Strangelove was directed, produced and co-written by Stanley Kubrick.  It starred Peter Sellers, who played 3 roles in the movie, and George C. Scott who portrayed General Buck Turgidson.

George C. Scott 
as General Buck Turgidson
Columbia Pictures (1964)

One of Sellers' roles was Lionel Mandrake, the RAF officer.  Mr. Sellers had served in the RAF where he was known for his imitations of his superior officers.

Peter Sellers as Captain Mandrake
Columbia Pictures (1964)

He also played Dr. Strangelove, a former Nazi and nuclear war expert who is confined to a wheelchair.  This character is based on Operation Paperclip which involved the recruitment by the United States of Nazi scientists at the end of World War II.

The first test screening of the movie was scheduled for November 22, 1963, but because of JFK's assassination, the release would not come until late January 1964.

A line in the film spoken by actor Slim Pickens, "a fellow could have a pretty good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff," was changed to Vegas because of the tragedy in Texas.

Among the most humorous lines of satire in the film comes when an argument between two officials becomes physical.  President Muffley, played by George C. Scott, shouts...

"Gentlemen, you can't fight in here...this is a war room!"

The War Room
Dr. Strangelove
Columbia Pictures (1964)