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

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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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Top Rated Movies #58 | Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 13 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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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 wild 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

Peter Sellers was paid $1 million, 55% of the film's budget. Stanley Kubrick famously quipped "I got three for the price of six". See more »

Goofs

After Major Kong lists the contents of the emergency ration kits, he says "Shoot, a fella could have a pretty good time in Vegas with all that stuff." His lips are saying Dallas instead of Vegas. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas shortly after filming was completed, and the producers did not want to remind anyone of sad events during a joke. 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

Spoofed in Post-War Blues (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

We'll Meet Again
(1939) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Ross Parker and Hugh Charles
Performed by Vera Lynn and chorus at the end
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Laughing at Fear
14 August 1998 | by SickfrogSee all my reviews

What makes this film so powerful is the message that it made at the time of its release. This film came out at a height of paranoia of the nuclear age and the Cold War, right around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. This film depicts a horrible, tragic incident in which a breach in the government and a few diplomatic mistakes result in nuclear holocaust. So, why didn't this film inspire panic? Because of the brilliant way in which Kubrick presents it... as a satire. The scariest thing about this film in retrospect is not how it depicts the impending doom of the Cold War, but how it makes you laugh at it. By presenting it with humor, it conveys just how much of a farce the nuclear arms race was in real life. And I don't think that any other film has captured the absurdity of war nearly as well as this one has. And I am not likely to believe that one ever will. In my opinion, Kubrick has never made a better film since. And kudos to George C. Scott for his astounding performance, as well as Peter Sellers for the most versatile acting I've seen from an actor in one film, and to Sterling Hayden, for performing the most serious, yet the most hilarious role in film with perfect accuracy. Beware of fluoridation!


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