Alternatively named How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
If Kubrick’s dark humour was somewhat overshadowed by the controversy surrounding Lolita, it hit home with a vengeance in his next film. Dr. Strangelove is the ultimate black comedy and the cinema’s definitive diagnosis of nuclear paranoia in the 1960s. Because an American general believes that the Soviets have polluted his ‘precious bodily fluids’ (rendering him impotent), the world is set on an unavoidable course of destruction, with President Merkin Muffley and Premier Dimitri Kissoff arguing over the hotline as to who is the sorrier. Clearly, neither is sorry at all and, given this grotesque set of paranoid defenders of the faith, neither is Kubrick. The wheelchair-bound ex-Nazi scientist Dr. Strangelove himself is nothing less than we deserve, relishing the fact that every move is a loser and proposing an elitist survival programme to win the heart and mind of every ‘preverted’ politician.
The humour is broader here than in any other Kubrick film, which must in part be attributed to major contributions by writer Terry Southern and Peter Sellers in multiple roles. The priceless dialogue (‘Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here. This is the War Room’) and Sellers’ improvisations would suggest that, at least up to this stage in his career, Kubrick relied quite heavily on his collaborators. (U.K., 1963. Black and white. 94 mins.)

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