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Dr Strangelove [DVD]
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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is one of the most biting and hard-hitting commentaries about the U.S.-Soviet arms race, overdependence on technology, the can-do philosophy of the Air Force, and the sheer lunacy of MAD, the apt acronym for the term Mutual Assured Destruction -- which was the Cold War diplo-speak that meant "you nuke our country, we'll nuke yours."
Normally one wouldn't think the possibility of nuclear annihilation would be the wellspring for a comedy, just as most people today wouldn't think the Holocaust is fodder for satire. Yet when Stanley Kubrick set out to do a straightforward dramatic film based on novelist Peter George's "Red Alert," a novel about an "accidental" nuclear attack on the Soviet Union by the United States, the more research and contemplation the director and co-screenwriter did on the subject of nuclear deterrence and all the nitty gritty of nuclear warfare, the more insane the whole theme seemed. So Kubrick -- no doubt aware that a similarly themed film (Fail-Safe) was underway -- gave in to his impulses and switched gears from drama to "dark" comedy.
Kubrick sets the tone right from the main title sequence. As the credits (and you have to see these yourself) roll, we see footage of a B-52 Stratofortress being refueled by a KC-135A aerial tanker. In the background, the very romantic strains of "Try a Little Tenderness" gives this aerial ballet an almost grotesque ironic counterpoint. Love music? In a scene depicting a nuclear bomber being refueled as it heads toward its fail-safe point?
Things get going, though, when Royal Air Force liaison officer Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers) gets an unexpected phone call from Burpleson AFB's B-52 wing commander, Gen. Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden), ordering him to impound all privately owned radios and to order the B-52s already on deterrence patrol to leave their fail-safe points and to implement Wing Attack Plan R. Befuddled but obedient, Mandrake complies, setting off Gen. Ripper's plan to launch an unauthorized attack against the Soviet Union.
Dr. Strangelove follows three story threads, each getting loopier as the world hurtles closer and closer to annihilation:
First, there is hapless Group Capt. Mandrake's reaction to his discovery of Ripper's real plot and the loony logic of the general's motives. The Soviet Union hasn't started a war, Ripper says, but has been messing around with Americans' natural fluids since 1946 -- the same year fluoridation began to be implemented in earnest.
Second, there is President Merkin Muffley's (Peter Sellers again) stunned reaction when he is summoned to the Pentagon's War Room along with the Soviet ambassador, where his increasingly pathetic attempts to defuse the crisis run into various stumbling blocks, including the hawkish demeanor of Air Force General Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott), the dissembling of the ambassador (Peter Bul), the vagaries of long distance telephone service, the bizarre machinations of one of his senior advisors, Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers yet again), and the inebriated state of the Soviet Premier.
Third, there is the sheer pluck of Air Force Maj. T.J. Kong( Slim Pickens), who, upon getting the orders to implement Wing Attack Plan R, doffs his flight helmet and puts on a cowboy hat, peppering his orders and pep talk with slangy cowboy terms. He, too, is a bit loony, yet he and his crew (which includes James Earl Jones in his first film appearance) overcome every obstacle thrown at them on their way to their target.
Kubrick peppers his film with sight gags (nuclear bombs with Dear John and Hi There! stenciled on their warheads, a buffet counter in the war room) and punny names (Keenan Wynn's paratrooper character, one who fears retribution from the Coca-Cola company more than the prospect of an unstopped nuclear war, is named Bat Guano), and his use of music in an ironic counterpoint to the visuals ("Try a Little Tenderness" in the aforementioned title sequence, a hummed rendition of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" over Major Kong's toe-to-toe with the Rooskies speech, and Vera Lynn's famous rendition of "We'll Meet Again" as the crisis comes to a stark close) puts an end to the misconception of the director as being cold and unfunny.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
For those that have not seen the movie, which is highly unlikely, this is an improbable situation where a base commander is in the position to order an attack on Russia. Originally supposed to be a serious movie based on the book "Red Alert" by Peter Bryant (really Peter George). Now converted into a black comedy with many great stars including Peter Sellers as there of the characters. (It would have been four characters if he has not broken a leg).
This DVD (special edition) is worth purchasing even if you have earlier versions. Many DVD's contain what they call extras (I call them Goodies). In a lot of cases they are just rehashed versions of the movie or just rattling. In this case the extra "Inside the Making of DR.STRAINGLOVE" rivals the movie itself for entertainment and useful content. You find out how the movie evolved from a serious piece to a serious black comedy. You find that the movie is an aggregate of many talented people. It would take too log to describe the details that motivated the movie so you will just have to purchase this edition.
There is also a trailer for "Fail Safe" a rival movie...
One part I found interesting was when the Air crew was examining their survival kit. Slim Pickens says a person can have a good time in Dallas with the kit. This is over dubbed by Las Vegas as a result of JFK just being shot in Dallas.
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61 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on 17 October 2010
You'll have to read the product description for all the extras and subtitled languages - what interests me is the film itself.

To say the film is perfect would be stretching the truth a little. The trouble (as viewers of the various DVD editions will know) is that Dr Strangelove was not filmed in a consistent aspect ratio, so every subsequent editor has to decide how to combine the full frame shots (1.33:1) with the matte in camera shots (1.66:1). To me it seems obvious that the open matte scenes were meant to be cropped to match the rest, but obvious is not a term usually associated with Kubrick. Nevertheless the makers of the blu-ray have done just this, presenting the entire film in 1.66:1. This results in thin vertical black lines either side of the picture when viewed on a 16:9 television, or an equal-sized border when viewed on a 1920x1200 monitor.

In my opinion this is a better solution than the mixed format of all the DVD releases. Besides which, this is how the film was originally seen in cinemas - at least in Europe; in the US it was apparently projected in 1.85:1. However, various sources (mostly tied with the mixed-aspect ratio LaserDisc and DVD releases) assert that Kubrick actually intended the film be projected in mixed format.

Then there is the matter of picture quality. Kubrick sometimes seemed to go out of his way to find grainy film stock, but in this case it was probably justified as the entire film is shot at night (even on the bomber flying over Russia). What this means, however, is that the blu-ray is not the dramatic improvement over DVD that is seen in other films. But I think this is as good as it gets. The detail, brightness and contrast are superb and there are no scratches or other defects that I can see, and I don't think the film grain - even in the external airbase shots where it is excessive - should be edited out.

All in all I suppose that DVD owners who prefer the mixed 1.33:1 and 1.66:1 aspect ratio format will probably not bother buying this blu-ray, and the same issue might persuade some new buyers to choose the DVD, but for everyone else the blu-ray is easily the disc of choice.

Finally, although I said I wouldn't mention the extras I am mildly disappointed that the excellent original film trailer is not included. I don't think this is on any of the DVD releases either and I recommend looking it up on YouTube.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Kubrick's follow up to Lolita is perhaps the greatest comedy ever made.

Originally to be a serious drama it soon dawned on Kubrick that a seriously black comedy could be honed out of such dark material and that the notion of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) was exactly that and it could not be taken seriously by anyone with an ounce of intelligence. So the basis of Dr Strangelove was decided and what a film was eventually made.

Commander Ripper, suffering from a particular male problem in the bedroom if you understand me, sends his entire fleet of B52 bombers to bomb Russia who he blames for his "problem". When the authorities become aware of this they realise they have only an hour or two to recall the planes or there will be worldwide thermonuclear war. Not the obvious basis for a comedy you might think.

The principal action essentially takes place in three locations. The Bomber Command Base, on-board one of the bombers, and in the United Stes Presidents War Room. Sterling Hayden plays Commander Ripper with so much conviction that you almost feel sympathy for the man. Slim Pikins plays the Bomber pilot apparently defending his county and the ever wonderful Peter Sellers plays The US President, a British exchange officer on the B52 base and the mysterious and chilling wheelchair bound Dr Strangelove of the title.

Shot in glorious black and white with a documentary feel, Strangelove feels almost too real in its depiction of mad generals, ineffective politicians and how common sense can become lost in the fog of war. Serious and frightening points are driven home so hard by the use of comedy that even the military have come to regard Strangelove as a warning for the future.

Much of the dialogue is just so funny and memorable that many lines have passed almost into the language. "Gentlemen you can't fight in here this is the War Room" being just one of them. With Sellers, Slim Pikins and George C Scott all putting fabulous performances Strangelove is a thing of beauty and should be on the shelf of any respecting film buff. Not since has such a dark and deeply worrying story been told in such an entertaining way.

Dr Strangelove or How I learned to stop worrying and love the Bomb is tremendous entertainment with all the frailties and insecurities of the human condition at its heart. All wrapped up in 91 minutes. There isn't a minute or a line a dialogue wasted.

Kubrick's most human film.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 29 December 2010
I cannot add anything that hasn't already been said by other reviewers. This remains one of the funniest films ever made. Just a couple of things not many people know. Stanley actually wanted Peter Sellers to do 4 parts. In addition to Captain Mandrake, The President and Dr. Strangelove, Sellers was also expected to do the Slim Pickens part of the pilot who drops the bomb. Peter persuaded Stanley that he wasn't up to doing 4 parts and not long after the film was made, Peter Sellers had one of his many heart attacks. Stanley also had a different ending for the film: A major custard pie scene in the war room. You might notice during some of the scenes in the war room that there was a table set with food, (never actually used). But it was there for a reason and that was to set the scene for the famous custard pie scene at the end. For some reason known only to Stanley Kubrick the scene was never shown. However it was shot and must remain hidden in the vaults of some American movie company. How wonderful for all movie scholars if we can ever see this scene.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 December 2010
Dr Strangelove: or How I Stopped Worrying and Learnt to Love the Bomb is the 1964 masterpiece by Stanley Kubrick with Peter Sellers playing about 50 (ok 3) different roles. The film satarises the cold war and centers around a renagade general who decides that its about time america nuked the soviet union.

It may seem strange to review a film so long after its release date but I wanted to see whether Dr Strangelove had dated. In a post Airplane! World we see that although it still works as a farce we are used to laughing our socks off more in a comedy film. However that said it is still more intellectually prodding than most modern comedies.

If we take the decision that a comedy must make you laugh at least twice for every half an hour of film then Dr Strangelove is a brilliant piece of satire but normally nowadays a smart joke in comedies is rare and if it was released now surely we would end up with "dude! Wheres my atomic bomb"

I will say that strangelove has dated but amazing comedy performances by Sellers and George Scott as the government personell. James Earl Jones (Darth Vader, Mufasa) also shows up.

In conclusion, an incredibly funny films with many good lines and a parody of the cold war hilariously. The problem comes is when one realises that as time goes on and ignorance of the past increases we will end up with a niche period piece for historians.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 9 January 2004
This and numerous other satirical tongue-in-cheek quotes will be found throught this fine film. It is as funny as it is frightening and outlines a world where the threat of 'the bomb' is right on everyone's doorstep. In it you'll be pleased to find an all-star cast including Peter Sellers, (who does a fantastic job playing 3 characters all by himself) George C. Scott, and a young James Earl Jones. That's right, folks...the Bell Atlantic Man himself in charge of a nuclear payload aboard his very own B-17. Sellers plays the President, Group Captain Lyonel Mandrake, and the mysterious and chilling Dr. Strangelove. If you know anything about the Cold War era, give this one a try...you'll love it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 28 July 2013
I love this movie. However, I wasn't sure what to expect when I purchased this on blu-ray. I didn't think an old black and white movie could look all that impressive in 1080p. But I got a huge, pleasant surprise.

The clarity in the picture is just outstanding! It looks almost as if it was filmed yesterday only it's in black and white.

I am so happy I have this now in my collection. The sound was 100% as well! An all round perfect blu-ray! It almost fills out the entire screen as well, which is a huge bonus for me. Well recommended!
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49 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on 19 February 2003
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Simply put, the film Dr Strangelove is a black comedy take on the end of the world through nuclear holocaust and it succeeds utterly. Its a hilarious film which manages to address important issues while still making you laugh your eyeballs out.Although there is a slow set up the film almost reaches climax about half way through and you are dragged into the hilarity of an all too human holocaust finale. The film is almost too funny and at times you find yourself laughing at the crazy fools behind the button when you should be shivering thinking 'there but for the grace of god go I..'.

A young Stanly Kubrick here practically tricks George C Scott into one of the best performances of his life, with a lovably over the top, school boy styled General/advisor. Peter Sellers is likewise made fantastic use of, here delivering not one good performance but three - The President of the US of A, a British flight commander in a doomed air force base and in the films titular role as the 'mad scientist', beautifully over the top Dr Strangelove himself. You can also catch Slim Pickens here in his film debut.
The DVD is a good one for extras as well. A good lengthed making of featurette and an Art of Stanly Kubrick featurette both go into great detail about the creative processes of the various departments on the film, from designing and creating the fictional 'war room' to the internal cockpit of a B52.Also included is an odd interview with Peter Sellers and George C Scott in character!
Many a military advisor would do well to watch this film and be reminded of the stupidity of war, never mind the mind blowing insanity of nuclear war. Although having said that, after Ronald Reagan was sworn in he was disappointed to hear that he couldn't be taken to the War Room because it doesn't actually exist.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 6 June 2003
There aren’t many comedy films that stand up to repeat viewing and even less that get better the more you see them. “Some Like It Hot” (justifiably voted the funniest film of all time) is one and “Dr Strangelove” comes in a close second. The acting is superb, with Peter Sellers’ three character “tour de force” & George C. Scott’s performances ranking up there with the very best of comedy outings, the cinematography is brilliant, generating real tension through clever cutting and the use of hand-held sequences, and the essentially horrific storyline is tight, believable & wholly effective. The verbal and visual gags flow thick & fast and the last scene’s inspired marriage of Vera Lynn’s nostalgic wartime anthem “We’ll Meet Again” with repeated nuclear explosions perfectly reflects what has gone before: satirical black comedy at its very best. And… to cap it all, the theatre trailer on this DVD version is a small, perfectly formed cinematic gem in itself.
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