Reel Classics

Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) - Blu-ray Review

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

How much more phallic and manly can you get then with cigars and missiles filling almost every screen of this paradox of nuclear war absurdities?  And don’t even get me started on the sexual allusions in the opening sequence (all set to Try a Little Tenderness) as two planes mount each other for refueling purposes.  Wait. What?  Yes, indeed, Cinepheliac boys and girls, this is EXACTLY how a masterpiece of frenzied and subversive cinema is created.

"a REEL CLASSIC whose spin on rampant human folly commands your undivided attention"


I mean, seriously, have you EVER seen a commie drink a glass of water?!?!?!?!

Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb and its satirized shenanigans is the ultimate testament to the fear and paranoia felt during the Cold War.  Its crazed situations are handled with a subversive mindset and the entire cast, which includes Peter Sellers (in THREE wildly different roles!!!), delivers in a film which became Stanley Kubrick’s calling card thanks to its ripe black-and-white visuals, its wickedly perfect performances, and its fierce pitch-black attitude which ultimately led to Sellers getting a Best Actor nod and Kubrick getting a blank check for 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The film - with its film noir leanings (note the swirling scenes of heavy cigar smoke which permeates the air), an uncompromising political agenda of caution and satire, and its screwball-like antics - was not always the slam dunk movie that its legacy now commands.  Columbia Pictures only put up the money for the film IF Sellers would play multiple parts.  Their opinion of Kubrick was pretty low, claiming that the reason Lolita was a success was due to Sellers’ involvement and the many identities he portrayed therein.  Sellers was supposed to play four roles, which included the role that eventually went to Slim Pickens, but he (reportedly) couldn’t master the strong Texas accent.Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

The dark comedy, filmed in black and white by Gilbert Taylor and edited by Anthony Harvey, is also a pinnacle for George C. Scott as General Buck Turgidson, the USAF Chief of Staff, Sterling Hayden as Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper, a paranoid SAC commander, and television and rodeo performer Slim Pickens as Major Kong (c’mon, he rides a nuclear bomb all the way to oblivion) in one of the most iconic scenes in film history.  While over the top and zany, the film is loosely based on Peter George's novel Red Alert and comes very close to mirroring real life situations as an unhinged nuclear conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States seemed very likely during the 1950s. 

There isn't a wasted moment in this political farce.  When the show stopper isn't Tracy Reed (A Shot in the Dark) on the cover of Playboy with Henry Kissinger's Strains on the Alliance covering her ass, you know you are involved in watching some damn good satire.  

Written by satirist and screenwriter Terry Southern, Dr. Strangelove involves an unhinged United States Air Force general who orders a first strike nuclear attack on the Soviet Union and, to be expected, the attempts of the President of the United States, his advisors, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to prevent the B-52 crew from dropping the bomb.  Hilarity ensues as The President's wheelchair-using scientific advisor, former Nazi German Dr. Strangelove learns from President Merkin Muffley that Russia has already readied bombs jacketed with "cobalt-thorium G" to go off in a Doomsday Machine that would be more effective if everyone knew about it. Hilarious.  Moments like this one are repeated throughout, making every damn scene in this comedic masterpiece worth squeezing for its irony and its subversion.

With a sharp sense of madcap timing - which ends with Dr. Strangelove rising from his wheelchair to proclaim "Mein Führer, I can walk!"as bombs begin exploding, Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is a REEL CLASSIC whose spin on rampant human folly commands your undivided attention. 

It is now on blu-ray with a 4K sheen thanks to the Criterion Collection.

5/5 stars

 

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

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Criterion
Available on Blu-ray
- June 28, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.66:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: LPCM Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Stanley Kubrick’s painfully funny take on Cold War anxiety is one of the fiercest satires of human folly ever to come out of Hollywood. The matchless shape-shifter Peter Sellers plays three wildly different roles: Royal Air Force Captain Lionel Mandrake, timidly trying to stop a nuclear attack on the USSR ordered by an unbalanced general (Sterling Hayden); the ineffectual and perpetually dumbfounded U.S. President Merkin Muffley, who must deliver the very bad news to the Soviet premier; and the titular Strangelove himself, a wheelchair-bound presidential adviser with a Nazi past. Finding improbable hilarity in nearly every unimaginable scenario, Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is a subversive masterpiece that officially announced Kubrick as an unparalleled stylist and pitch-black ironist.

Video:

With an aspect ratio of 1.66:1, Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb looks all sorts of brand-new again.  For this release, Criterion has restored the image with an impressive 4K digital transfer, which dives into the layered shadows and expressive black-and-white images.  The grading levels are strong throughout, with black levels holding inky and shadows defined. Of particular note is the fact that the hi-definition upgrade in video and audio quality over the previous releases makes this release  easy to recommend thanks to the level of care and commitment that has gone into the restoration.  No matter the price being asked, this release from Criterion - cover art, inserts, and all - looks absolutely amazing.

Audio:

Along with the uncompressed monaural original soundtrack, Criterion also gives fans an alternate 5.1 surround soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray

Audio

The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 lossless track never really gets the chance to make a huge statement, but, then again, they rarely ever do in comedies. Most dialogue is front and center with the film's soundtrack accounting for what little surround activity there is. Dialogue is always clear and audible. The film also contains a French: DTS-HD HR 7.1 and a Spanish: DTS 5.1 audio tracks.

Supplements:

Commentary:

Special Features:

Included on the blu-ray disc are three short featurettes that contain some behind-the-scenes footage as well as interviews and discussions pertaining to certain aspects of the film's making.

Blu-ray Rating

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 5/5 stars
  Extras 5/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

5/5 stars


Film Details

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

MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements, some violent content, sexual humor and mild language.
Runtime:
95 mins
Director
: Stanley Kubrick
Writer:
Stanley Kubrick; Terry Southern
Cast:
Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden
Genre
: Comedy
Tagline:
The Red-Hot suspense story that's rocking and shocking the world!
Memorable Movie Quote: "Peace is our Profession."
Theatrical Distributor:
Columbia Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
January 29, 1964
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
June 28, 2016.
Synopsis: The matchless shape-shifter Peter Sellers plays three wildly different roles: Air Force Captain Lionel Mandrake, timidly trying to stop a nuclear attack on the USSR ordered by an unbalanced general (Sterling Hayden); the ineffectual and perpetually dumbfounded President Merkin Muffley, who must deliver the very bad news to the Soviet premier; and the titular Strangelove himself, a wheelchair-bound presidential adviser with a Nazi past.

Art

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

 

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