The phrase “timeless classic” gets tossed around so much that it can sometimes lose it’s meaning. It seems like almost every movie that comes out in recent years get’s branded as a “timeless classic” or “instant classic” before it is even in theaters. To truly be a “timeless classic”, it means that the movie can withstand the test of time, that it has the same impact now as it did when it first came out. I don’t usually use the phrase “timeless classic” very often but today’s movie, Dr. Strangelove, can definitely be considered on such movie.
The plot: Jack D. Ripper, a paranoid general in command of Burpelson Air Force Base, has ordered an unauthorized first stike on Russia. Being the only person with the recall codes, Ripper orders the base on lockdown and all outside communication to be severed. While the planes head towards their targets, the president and his cabinet try to find a way to stop the attack from happening. The problem is compounded by the news that the Russians have a doomsday device that will activate if any nuclear strike occurs on their country and will encircle the Earth in a radioactive cloud, killing all life on the planet. After a fierce battle at Burpelson, where Ripper kills himself, the code is recovered and the planes are called back, except for one plane, whose radio was damaged, and still on course to start a nuclear war.
This is British-American dark comedy is definitely one of the greatest comedies of all time. It has a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes (how many comedies can boast that). In 1989, it was among the first group of films selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. It was ranked # 3 in the AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Laughs list and # 39 in the AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list. Strangelove has also been parodied in numerous shows and comedies. It was nominated for 4 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. This just shows what an impact this movie has had.
I love dark comedies because they make you think about the jokes instead of just your typical slapstick comedy situations. And I love Dr. Strangelove. It is probably one of the best political satires ever written. Released during the height of the Cold War, it did a great job of playing on everyone’s paranoia about a Russian attack and nuclear war, while at the same time, making light of the situation so that the audience wouldn’t take it too seriously. A lot of the jokes are subtle, like a play on words concerning Strangelove’s name. Some are situational, such as a bunch of soldiers fighting in front of a billboard that reads “Peace is our Profession”. Peter Sellers was good in his multiple roles as Dr. Strangelove, President Merkin Muffley, and Captain Lionel Mandrake. Slim Pickens, as Major T.J. “King” Kong, has arguable one of the most memorable and iconic scenes in movie history. The scene with him riding a nuclear bomb like a bronco, while clutching his cowboy hat and yelling, is one of those scenes that everyone recognizes, even if they have not seen the movie before.
So if you want to see one of the greatest comedies of all time, then definitely watch this movie.
Rating: 5 out of 5