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

PG | | Comedy | 29 January 1964 (USA)
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An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a War Room full of politicians and generals frantically tries to stop.

Director:

Stanley Kubrick

Writers:

Stanley Kubrick (screenplay), Terry Southern (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Director's Trademarks: A Guide to Stanley Kubrick's Films

2001: A Space Odyssey and Eyes Wide Shut are just the beginning of Stanley Kubrick's legacy. Are you up to speed on the film icon's style?

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Sellers ... Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake / President Merkin Muffley / Dr. Strangelove
George C. Scott ... Gen. 'Buck' Turgidson
Sterling Hayden ... Brig. Gen. Jack D. Ripper
Keenan Wynn ... Col. 'Bat' Guano
Slim Pickens ... Maj. 'King' Kong
Peter Bull ... Russian Ambassador Alexi de Sadesky
James Earl Jones ... Lt. Lothar Zogg
Tracy Reed ... Miss Scott
Jack Creley ... Mr. Staines
Frank Berry Frank Berry ... Lt. Dietrich
Robert O'Neil ... Adm. Randolph
Glenn Beck ... Lt. Kivel (as Glen Beck)
Roy Stephens Roy Stephens ... Frank
Shane Rimmer ... Capt. 'Ace' Owens
Hal Galili ... Burpelson AFB Defense Team Member
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Storyline

Paranoid Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper of Burpelson Air Force Base, believing that fluoridation of the American water supply is a Soviet plot to poison the U.S. populace, is able to deploy through a back door mechanism a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union without the knowledge of his superiors, including the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Buck Turgidson, and President Merkin Muffley. Only Ripper knows the code to recall the B-52 bombers and he has shut down communication in and out of Burpelson as a measure to protect this attack. Ripper's executive officer, RAF Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (on exchange from Britain), who is being held at Burpelson by Ripper, believes he knows the recall codes if he can only get a message to the outside world. Meanwhile at the Pentagon War Room, key persons including Muffley, Turgidson and nuclear scientist and adviser, a former Nazi named Dr. Strangelove, are discussing measures to stop the attack or mitigate its blow-up into an all ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The hot-line suspense comedy. See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements, some violent content, sexual humor and mild language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English | Russian

Release Date:

29 January 1964 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Delicate Balance of Terror See more »

Filming Locations:

Okaloosa County, Florida, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,800,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,751, 17 July 1994, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$9,440,272, 31 December 1994
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The voice Peter Sellers uses for Dr. Strangelove bears a striking resemblance to the voice of Dr. William Penney, the director of the British nuclear bomb program from its inception through the making of the film. Interviews with Dr. Penney can be found in the documentary, "Equinox. A very British Bomb" and is introduced at 5:00 minutes in the version available on Youtube at this time. See more »

Goofs

While on the bomb run, Major Kong orders the bomb detonator set to zero altitude. Altitudes in aviation are calculated based on sea level (which is zero altitude). As the missile base they were attacking was in the mountains, and certainly higher than zero altitude, a bomb dropped with that setting would not go off. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Narrator: For more than a year, ominous rumors had been privately circulating among high-level Western leaders that the Soviet Union had been at work on what was darkly hinted to be the ultimate weapon: a doomsday device. Intelligence sources traced the site of the top secret Russian project to the perpetually fog-shrouded wasteland below the Arctic peaks of the Zhokhov Islands. What they were building or why it should be located in such a remote and desolate place no one could say.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The screenplay title is incorrectly spelled. It reads: 'Base' on the book "Red Alert" by Peter George. This is pointed out on the DVD supplement about the making of the film. See more »

Alternate Versions

An entire alternate ending scene was cut from the film involving a huge custard pie fight between everyone in the war room. Following is the events as they occurred: This footage began at a point in the War Room where the Russian ambassador is seen, for the second time, surreptitiously taking photographs of the Big Board, using six or seven tiny spy-cameras disguised as a wristwatch, a diamond ring, a cigarette lighter, and cufflinks. The head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force General Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott) catches him in flagrante and, as before, tackles him and throws him to the floor. They fight furiously until President Merkin Muffley intervenes: "This is the War Room, gentlemen! How dare you fight in here!" General Turgidson is unfazed. "We've got the Commie rat redhanded this time, Mr. President!" The detachment of four military police, which earlier escorted the ambassador to the War Room, stands by as General Turgidson continues: "Mr. President, my experience in these matters of espionage has caused me to be more skeptical than your average Joe. I think these cameras," he indicates the array of ingenious devices, "may be dummy cameras, Just to put us off. I say he's got the real McCoy concealed on his person. I would like to have your permission, Mr. President, to have him fully searched." "All right," the President says, "permission granted." General Turgidson addresses the military police: "Okay boys, you heard the President. I want you to search the ambassador thoroughly. And due to the tininess of his equipment do not overlook any of the seven bodily orifices." The camera focuses on the face of the ambassador as he listens and mentally calculates the orifices with an expression of great annoyance. Why you capitalist swine!" he roars, and reaches out of the frame to the huge three-tiered table that was wheeled in earlier. Then he turns back to General Turgidson, who now has a look of apprehension on his face as he ducks aside, managing to evade a custard pie that the ambassador is throwing at him. President Muffley has been standing directly behind the general, so that when he ducks, the president is hit directly in the face with the pie. He is so overwhelmed by the sheer indignity of being struck with a pie that he simply blacks out. General Turgidson catches him as he collapses. "Gentlemen," he intones, "The president has been struck down, in the prime of his life and his presidency. I say massive retaliation!" And he picks up another pie and hurls it at the ambassador. It misses and hits instead General Faceman, the joint Chief representing the Army. Faceman is furious. "You've gone too far this time, Buck!" he says, throwing a pie himself, which hits Admiral Pooper, the Naval Joint Chief who, of course, also retaliates. A monumental pie fight ensues. Meanwhile, parallel to the pie-fight sequence, another sequence is occurring. At about the time that the first pie is thrown, Dr. Strangelove raises himself from his wheelchair. Then, looking rather wild-eyed, he shouts, "Mein Fuhrer, I can valk!" He takes a triumphant step forward and pitches flat on his face. He immediately tries to regain the wheelchair, snaking his way across the floor, which is so highly polished and slippery that the wheelchair scoots out of reach as soon as Strangelove touches it. We intercut between the pie fight and Strangelove's snakelike movements -- reach and scoot, reach and scoot -- which suggest a curious, macabre pas de deux. When the chair finally reaches the wall, it shoots sideways across the floor and comes to a stop ten feet away, hopelessly out of reach. Strangelove, exhausted and dejected, pulls himself up so that he is sitting on the floor, his back against the wall at the far end of the War Room. He stares for a moment at the surreal activity occurring there, the pie fight appearing like a distant, blurry, white blizzard. The camera moves in on Strangelove as he gazes, expressionless now, at the distant fray. Then, unobserved by him, his right hand slowly rises, moves to the inner pocket of his jacket and, with considerable stealth, withdraws a German Luger pistol and moves the barrel toward his right temple. The hand holding the pistol is seized at the last minute by the free hand and both grapple for its control. The hand grasping the wrist prevails and is able to deflect the pistol's aim so that when it goes off with a tremendous roar, it misses the temple. The explosion reverberates with such volume that the pie fight freezes. A tableau, of white and ghostly aspect: Strangelove stares for a moment before realizing that he has gained the upper hand. "Gentlemen," he calls out to them. "Enough of these childish games. Vee hab vork to do. Azzemble here pleeze!" For a moment, no one moves. Then a solitary figure breaks rank: It is General Turgidson, who walks across the room to the wheelchair and pushes it over to the stricken Strangelove. "May I help you into your chair, Doctor?" he asks. He begins wheeling Strangelove across the War Room floor, which is now about half a foot deep in custard pie. They move slowly until they reach the president and the Russian ambassador who are sitting crosslegged, facing each other, building a sandcastle. "What in Sam Hill..." mutters General Turgidson. "Ach," says Strangelove. "I think their minds have snapped under the strain. Perhaps they will have to be institutionalized." As they near the pie-covered formation of generals and admirals, General Turgidson announces gravely: "Well, boys, it looks like the future of this great land of ours is going to be in the hands of people like Dr. Strangelove here. So let's hear three for the good doctor!" And as he pushes off again, the eerie formation raise their voices in a thin, apparition-like lamentation: "Hip, hip, hooray, hip, hip, hooray!" followed by Vera Lynn's rendition of "We'll Meet Again." The camera is up and back in a dramatic long shot as General Turgidson moves across the War Room floor in a metaphorical visual marriage of Mad Scientist and United States Military. The End. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

When Johnny Comes Marching Home
(1863) (uncredited)
Music by the Union Army bandmaster, Louis Lambert
In the score often during the flight of Major 'King' Kong's aircraft
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The Ultimate Black Comedy
16 February 2001 | by justusmcqueenSee all my reviews

Few films are able to take a deadly serious issue and place it within the context of a broad comedy successfully. Dr. Strangelove does exactly that. Kubrick's masterpiece illustrates in brilliant fashion the idiocy of nuclear war and the idiots who are orchestrating it. What strikes one most however in this cinematic gem are the individual characterisations of Sellers, Scott, Hayden and Pickens. To refer to them as memorable roles is a gross understatement. With names such as President Merkin Muffley, General "Buck" Turgidson, General Jack D. Ripper and Major T.J. "King" Kong, you know that these characters will not be soon forgotten. Other features of the film such as the remarkably designed "war room" set, the hand-held camera techniques employed by Kubrick and the black and white cinematography of Gilbert Taylor only add to the power and impact of "Strangelove." Quite simply, the greatest American film by the greatest American director.


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