“Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here. This is the war room!”
Almost fifty years ago, a classic satirical screen gem was unleashed onto the world. The political climate of the time saw communist allegories popping up as far as the eye could see. Films as varied as Storm Center in 1956 with Bette Davis and The Green Berets in 1968 with John Wayne saw Reds as essentially destructive. In 1962, John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate sardonically and satirically allegorised notions of communism in its frank depiction of propagandists. It also featured Angela Lansbury in her most kick ass role ever (eat your heart out Jessica Fletcher!)
Standing alongside The Manchurian Candidate was Stanley Kubrick’s outstanding Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. A humourous retelling of Peter George’s political thriller Red Alert, Kubrick co-wrote, produced and directed the film.
Peter Sellers stars in three distinctive roles as The President, Captain Mandrake and the titular Dr. Strangelove. Having already delved into the world of playing multiple characters, Sellers pioneers what has now become commonplace for Eddie Murphy and now Adam Sandler. Sellers is typically hysterical and spews out quotes that continue to live on.
Slapstick also features heavily in the film and mainly due to George C. Scott who is comically terrific and so much fun to watch. Sterling Hayden’s deadpan performance as General Jack D. Ripper sees another hysterical and commanding performance, as does character actor Slim Pickens as the obedient Major Kong.
The 4K digital print looks absolutely stunning, despite its placement in a contentious time for cinema houses. As 35mm film projection continually remains endangered, digital projection seems to be here to stay. We can only hope that both can exist side by side, as the clarity in Dr. Strangelove is truly worth the money. Digital projection may be slated to dominate cinema houses, but thankfully there are places (albeit only a few) such as The Astor which give variety and specialise in programming the most eclectic seasons all year round.
Before I pontificate too much, just go out and see the film in its one week season at the Astor. It is beautifully shot with the black and white film, is projected marvellously and features unforgettable performances. What a great way to spend a night out!
Dr Strangelove is playing Monday 28 November – Sunday December 4 at The Astor Theatre in Melbourne. Click here for more info.