Perhaps one of the best dark comedies of all time, this 1967 classic often goes overlooked by film goers. The late Stanley Kubrick is behind the camera, adding his special skill to one of his only comedies. It is in traditional black and white (by choice) and follows the hilariously inept American government through an atomic crisis.
It stars Peter Sellers in the titular roles of Lionel Mandrake, President Muffley, and the good Doctor himself. Also starring, George C. Scott in his most hilarious role as the bumbling General Buck Turgidson. The plot revolves around a General, played by Sterling Hayden, who believes the government is out to get his fluids and orders an atomic attack on Russia. As the planes, already in the air, move in on their targets, the President assembles a team of generals to help him figure out the situation. Everything gets worse when the Russian ambassador appears and says that Russia has a doomsday device and if it goes, so does the world. I can’t do the plot justice here, but trust me it is fun.
The characters too, are insanely enjoyable. General Ripper, Mandrake, Buck Turgidson, the President, Captain Kong, and Dr. Strangelove are all works of cinematic brilliance and they play off each other wonderfully. The writing is quick and witty, the visuals are entertaining, the acting is superb, and the plot is airtight. Several moments have gone down in history, such as the infamous cowboy-missile scene and the first ever “end of the world set to nice music” scene. However, on the bad side, there is little action and the humor is mostly dry. But hey, it has a young James Earl Jones.
The film is incredibly quotable (“Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the war room!” “But sir, he’s gonna see the big board,” “Mein Fuher! I can walk!”) and is placed on almost every top 10 movie list. I would recommend it to anyone who loves dark humor, or just wants to see a very good comedy. It is one of my favorite films and I enjoy it immensely, and I hope you will too.