Cast and Crew: Terry Southern (Co-Writer); George C. Scott, Keenan Wynn, Peter Bull, James Earl Jones
What It’s About: When Brigadier Gen. Jack Ripper (Sterling Hayden) goes rogue and launches a nuclear strike against the Soviet Union, can RAF attaché Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers) find the codes which will allow him to call off the mission? Can meek President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers) convince the Soviet Premier that it’s all a mistake over the phone? Will ex-Nazi scientist Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers) be strangled by his own hand? The answers to all of these questions are found in the funniest black comedy about nuclear Armageddon ever made.
Why Watch it Today?: The nuclear hotline between the United States and the Soviet Union was established today in 1963. The hotline, which features prominently in today’s film, was intended to avoid any accidental escalation into nuclear war, as depicted in the film itself. Stanley Kubrick took the script for a serious thriller about a rogue Air Force general attempting to start World War Three and turned it into this satire not just of the insanity of Mutually Assured Destruction but of the Cold War in general, and the American military and political establishment in specific. At the same time, the deadly serious goings on aboard a B-52 (excluding an exuberant Slim Pickens as the flight commander Maj. “King” Kong) still function as the chilling “what if” the script originally called for.