Directed By: Stanley Kubrick
Written By: Stanley Kubrick, Terri Southern, and Peter George (book)
This is one of the greatest comedies of all time, even after almost fifty years. It is a culturally significant and satirically clever movie that happens to be hilarious as well. It has been so long since this film has come out that the situation the film depicts might be strange to young viewers unfamiliar with the Cold War. I urge any of them to learn from this film as it mocks a very real and serious situation in our nation’s history. When you watch the movie you have to really allow yourself to get sucked into it. Absorb yourself in the story to get the most out of it. It is a film that requires your attention because it is easy to get lost in a story about an unfamiliar time. I have been struggling for years to get Amber to actually pay attention to this film and appreciate how great it really is.
The Cold War was one of the most ridiculous conflicts in the history of the world and it left the entire planet in a precarious situation for a long time. It is a conflict that every rising generation needs to learn about so that we all understand the pointlessness and risk of the arms race and theories like Mutually Assured Destruction. This movie is perfect for conveying the danger the world faced and the madness behind it all. When I was in college I actually designed a lesson plan for a history class on The Cold War that centered on this movie. The main problem with that would be getting teenagers to pay attention to a black and white film like this. There would need to be a lot of background info to go over in order for them to understand but that is where most of you teaching points start. I believe the easiest way to get young kids to understand history is giving them something like a film that they can relate to and understand better. Teaching around films in this fashion gives you plenty of opportunity to convey important information to them while keeping them interested in the topic with a film. Films are never historically accurate but that only gives you more opportunities to stop the film and explain how it really was. The problem with this idea of using movies in history class is that history classes in this state are required to be taught to the test at the end of the year. That kind of system really limits what teachers are able to do and rushes them to fit too much history into too short a time. Hopefully the powers that be will one day learn the folly in such a system.
Stanley Kubrick is a legendary director with an incredible track record. He is also quite the perfectionist which led some people to wonder if he was mad but it always made his films better. He read something like fifty books about nuclear war before writing the screenplay for this movie. That’s part of what makes it such a historically and culturally significant film because it so accurately mocks the realities at stake. This movie only got the green light from the studio if Peter Sellers agreed to play four parts and he got the king’s ransom for his contribution to the film. Receiving roughly fifty-five percent of the film’s budget in payment. Peter Sellers played the part of the British liaison officer, the President, and Dr. Strangelove and his performances carry the film. Sellers was supposed to play the part of the B-52 pilot as well but twisted his ankle or something like that and they had to cast a new role. The part ultimately went to Slim Pickins after being turned down by the likes of John Wayne and Dan Blocker. Slim Pickins gave one of his most memorable performances and will live on in infamy because of his role as Major TJ “King” Kong. George C. Scott, better known for playing General Patton in Patton, was sensational as General Turgidson. He is specifically does a good job of conveying the paranoia and insanity that had a voice in some of the high level meetings of the time. “Mr. President! We cannot allow a mine shaft gap!” That line is one of my favorites in the film, it is so funny. Sterling Hayden does a great job of keeping a straight face while he speaks complete nonsense. He fits the part perfectly as the longtime military man that has ultimately gone mad.
This movie was originally supposed to come out in November of 1963, but when JFK was assassinated it didn’t seem like the right time for this kind of dark comedy. It was pushed back until sometime in 1964 before actually being released. It is one of the most well received movies in history and considered one of the best comedies of all time. This movie is referenced on a regular basis in the media world so it will always have an incredible legacy. With a movie like this I don’t think I need to vouch for it because this is a movie that speaks for itself. Let yourself get drawn in and pay close attention to everything that is happening and you will see the value of this film. It is a great classic film that I always enjoy watching.
Ryan’s right, I really can never seem to get into this movie. I know it is supposed to be really great, but for some reason every time we watch it, I find myslef wandering away or not paying attention. I don’t even know what the movie is about, so I really can’t give it a review. It’s a a classic, so I say yes watch it, I am just not sure if you will like it or not.
NEXT MOVIE: Dumb and Dumber (1994)