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Dr Strangelove 1963 ****

Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 comedy about the end of the world really shouldn’t work. Outside of the Pink Panther franchise, most Peter Sellers films are vanity projects, particularly when the star is encouraged to take on multiple roles. The director also tinkered dramatically with the source novel Peter George’s novel Red Alert, while his fear of flying made the film’s largely airborne setting something of a nightmare. And yet Dr Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is a timeless classic, chilling rather than comedic, but with a mordant view of the futility of human existence. Sellers send up British army intelligence as RAF Group Captain Mandrake, who attempts to stop a crazy US general from obliterating mankind). Meanwhile in the war room, Buck Turgison (George C Scott) tries to put a brave face on the crisis for the President Merkin Muffley (also Sellers) and his advisor, the mysterious Dr Strangelove (Sellers once more). Ken Adams pulls off a coup with the War Room set that established a template for Bond films for decades, while Adams’ experience as an RAF pilot helped with the authenticity of the action. Ultimately Kubrick is the big winner here, indulging his star but still pulling off a clinical, acerbic comedy that nimbly demonstrates weapons to be a danger to all humanity.

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