I’m trying to start a new series here where, every 1-2 weeks, I do a list of twenty-five things I love about a certain film; it could be a scene, a quote, an acting performance, a musical choice, or anything really, any detail of the film, whether big or small. This time I’m listing twenty-five things I love about the classic comedy Dr. Strangelove (1964).
1: The film’s tremendous opening credit sequence; one of countless very subtle sexual references.
2: George C. Scott’s subtle mannerisms and facial expressions.
3: Sterling Hayden’s awkward discussion of the attempted poisoning of his “precious bodily fluids.”
4: Purity of essence.
5: The name Merkin Muffley.
6: The patriotic but ironic speech delivered by Slim Pickens to his air crew.
7: George C. Scott tripping over and correcting himself, all without interrupting his manic monologue.
8: “Uh… h-hello, Demitri?”
9: The fact that the film manages to exceed its sexually energised predecessor Lolita in both comic value and the number of sexual references.
10: Hayden’s rant about water fluoridation, and the uncomfortable number of masturbatory euphemisms included in it. (“I do not avoid women, Mandrake. But I do deny them my essence.”)
11: Peter Sellers’ awkward turn as a muddled Englishman.
12: Peter Sellers’ awkward turn as an agitated President.
13: Peter Sellers’ quirky turn as an ex-Nazi with a knowledge of technology and nuclear bombs.
14: “One of our generals, well… he went and did a silly thing.”
15: The film’s direct targeting of audience’s fears of a nuclear holocaust and channeling those fears into comedy, a risky but rewarding achievement.
16: Sterling Hayden’s “commie conspiracies.”
17: The film continuing for another five minutes after logically it should end, for the pure reason of including a discussion about the eradication of monogamy in a post-apocalyptic world.
19: “If anyone finds out about this, you’re gonna have to answer to the Coca-Cola company.”
20: George C. Scott: “He can barrel in that baby so low, you should see it–” And then the awkward change of attitude as he realizes what he’s just said and how he’s said it.
21: That awkward moment when Sterling Hayden is explaining his realization of the dangers of the fluoridation conspiracy by recalling a sex session.
22: “No horsin’ around on the airplane!”
23: The cameo by a very young James Earl Jones, his most famous line being: “Where’s Major Kong?”
24: Major Kong riding the bomb, an unmistakable sexual euphemism, and the strange feeling of dark humour that comes when you realize that the film’s “climax” features a man with what appears to be a giant erection in the form of a nuclear bomb portruding between his legs.
25: The film’s final song, “We’ll Meet Again,” sung beautifully by Vera Lynn, as the world slowly explodes.
Those are some of my favourite parts of this comedy classic. What do you think of it? You can’t tell me you haven’t seen it; it’s the funniest movie ever made, in my opinion. But let me know your thoughts in the comments below.