As we enter the blockbuster season and begin pre-ordering our tickets for the Next Big Bovie (NBM of the week: Iron Man 2), we are all going to feel the pinch at the box office. Before you buy any more tickets, or hit your local Red Box vending machine, put your wallet down and step away from your credit card. It’s time to see what’s playing your favorite free online movie theater, Cinema Huludiso (aka Hulu.com).
This week’s offering is the classic Cold War satire/comedy Dr. Strangelove, a film by Stanley Kubrick. Release in 1964, this movie (full title: Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) has been around long enough to be thoroughly analyzed by persons far more knowledgeable than I. I highly recommended reading its Wikipedia entry if you are inclined to learn more about the context and subtext of the film. I’m just going to share what I enjoyed about it.
First things first: the casting is simply amazing. The movie is worth seeing just for the performances, most notable those performances (yes, plural) by Peter Sellers. He was simply amazing as three different and completely unique characters: British Group Commander Lionel Mandrake, US President Merkin Muffley, and the titular Dr. Strangelove. Each character is as different as could be from the others in voice, tone, temperament, and physical presence. Sellers was simply amazing.
George C. Scott , who won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of General George S. Patton in in 1970, portays Army general Buck Turgidson (great name!), but this time he’s a paranoid, über-patriotic jingo. Keenan Wynn, whom I always knew as the bellowing Uncle Alonzo from Herbie Rides Again, appears briefly as “Bat” Guano, a general overly concerned with private property and the assumed “preversions” of Commander Mandrake. James Earl Jones (Flight of Dragons, Coming to America) makes his film debut as Lt Lothar Zogg, an officer attached to the B-52 bomber around which the movie revolves, and Slim Pickens (Blazing Saddles) is Major “King” Kong, the B-52’s redneck pilot who is hell-bent on completing his mission.
His mission? To drop his nuclear payload on Soviet Russia at the command of a his commanding officer, Jack D. Ripper (yep, a play on Jack the Ripper), a general obsessed with defending his precious bodily fluids from the Russians. Sound a little crazy? It is, and so is General Ripper. Without any enemy provocation and under his own authority, he has sent an entire wing of B-52s, all armed with nuclear bombs, into Soviet Russia with orders to destroy military targets. The bombers have locked their communications to a code that only Ripper knows, and the President and his advisory cabinet are unable to rescind the orders without it. Commander Mandrake (Peter Sellers), aware of the general’s instability/insanity, is attempting to discover the communications code so that he can give it to President Muffley (Peter Sellers), who is being advised by the former-Nazi scientist Dr Strangelove (Peter Sellers) to take the best and brightest of the American people underground in case of nuclear retaliation by the Soviets.
Sound a little crazy? It is, but it’s all part of the fun in this “could it really happen?” farcical, commentary on Cold War politics and international relations. You don’t want to miss out on the fun, and since Dr. Strangelove is currently featured on Hulu (with limited commercial interruptions, of course), you don’t have to! I give it 4 out of 5 Babbles, but I want to know what you think, so go watch the movie and come back here to post your thoughts!