Retarded Movie Reviews:
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Irony
by Dave in Texas

Favorite movie of all time? Too difficult a question. We have to categorize based on interest, mood, memories. An actor’s voice is enough to skew the answer on a given day.

But if you held a gun to my head, I’d say it was Dr. Strangelove, subtitled “Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”.

If you cocked the hammer, I’d qualify my answer thusly:

- I am a child of the Cold War
- I don’t remember nuke drills, but I have enough older friends who do, and the literature was still in my schools when I was in school, as were the shelter markings
- I like Peter Sellers
- I like dark humor
- I am a retard

I’d even add I’m not a huge Stanley Kubrick fan, although I do admire some of his work. Be honest. He cast Kirk Douglas as a French officer in Paths of Glory and it pretty much worked.

And he did get that award for filming in natural lighting, candlelight no less, for Barry Lyndon.

For those of you unfamiliar with Dr. Strangelove, mere words are inadequate. Certainly my mere words. Imbibe mild quantities of alcohol and rent it and give it a go.

dslbomb.jpgBasic plot line. An “insane” bomber wing commander decides to attack the Russkies pre-emptively and kick off World War III, convinced that the political leadership in the US is ignoring the threat of the Global Communist Conspiracy. So he orders his B-52 wing, armed with nuclear weapons and cruising at the fail-safe point, to proceed with an attack. Desperate to avoid the nuclear conflagration, President Merkin Muffley attempts to thwart the attack by helping the Russians shoot down the invading planes, which cannot be recalled (due to super-duper anti-enemy being sneaky measures that involve a recall code only crazy general knows).

Hilarity ensues.

Weirdly, this is very similar to the plot line of a serious drama released later that same year called “Fail Safe”, starring Henry Fonda and Walter Matthau.
Peter Sellers plays three characters in the film, President Merkin Muffley, his National Security Advisor Dr. Strangelove, and British Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (assigned to duty at Burpleson Air Force Base as an adjutant to General Jack D. Ripper. He’s the crazy one.

A few classic lines from the film include:

General "Buck" Turgidson: Mr. President, about, uh, 35 minutes ago, General Jack Ripper, the commanding general of, uh, Burpelson Air Force Base, issued an order to the 34 B-52's of his Wing, which were airborne at the time as part of a special exercise we were holding called Operation Drop-Kick. Now, it appears that the order called for the planes to, uh, attack their targets inside Russia. The, uh, planes are fully armed with nuclear weapons with an average load of, um, 40 megatons each. Now, the central display of Russia will indicate the position of the planes. The triangles are their primary targets; the squares are their secondary targets. The aircraft will begin penetrating Russian radar cover within, uh, 25 minutes.

President Merkin Muffley: General Turgidson, I find this very difficult to understand. I was under the impression that I was the only one in authority to order the use of nuclear weapons.

General "Buck" Turgidson: That's right, sir, you are the only person authorized to do so. And although I, uh, hate to judge before all the facts are in, it's beginning to look like, uh, General Ripper exceeded his authority.

And when General Turgidson advocates a pre-emptive strike, taking advantage of Gen. Ripper’s lead:

General "Buck" Turgidson: Mr. President, we are rapidly approaching a moment of truth both for ourselves as human beings and for the life of our nation. Now, truth is not always a pleasant thing. But it is necessary now to make a choice, to choose between two admittedly regrettable, but nevertheless *distinguishable*, postwar environments: one where you got twenty million people killed, and the other where you got a hundred and fifty million people killed.

President Merkin Muffley: You're talking about mass murder, General, not war!

General "Buck" Turgidson: Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.

(the pilot of one of the B-52s, reviewing survival kit contents with his crew, played by Slim Pickens)

Major T. J. "King" Kong: Survival kit contents check. In them you'll find: one forty-five caliber automatic; two boxes of ammunition; four days' concentrated emergency rations; one drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine, vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills; one miniature combination Russian phrase book and Bible; one hundred dollars in rubles; one hundred dollars in gold; nine packs of chewing gum; one issue of prophylactics; three lipsticks; three pair of nylon stockings. Shoot, a fella' could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.

My favorite exchange is between General Ripper and Group Captain Mandrake, as the Army is closing in on the base.

General Jack D. Ripper: Were you ever a prisoner of war?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Well, yes I was, matter of fact, Jack, I was.
General Jack D. Ripper: Did they torture you?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Uh, yes they did. I was tortured by the Japanese, Jack, if you must know; not a pretty story.
General Jack D. Ripper: Well, what happened?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Oh, well, I don't know, Jack, difficult to think of under these conditions; but, well, what happened was they got me on the old Rangoon-Ichinawa railway. I was laying train lines for the bloody Japanese puff-puff's.
General Jack D. Ripper: No, I mean when they tortured you did you talk?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Ah, oh, no... well, I don't think they wanted me to talk really. I don't think they wanted me to say anything. It was just their way of having a bit of fun, the swines. Strange thing is they make such bloody good cameras.

None of these are give-aways. There is a classic scene, which is a bit of a give-away, but most of you have already seen it so what the hell. Now you know where it came from.

Slim Pickens has a date with destiny.


Purity of the Essence. It's those damn communists and their fluoridation of the water, it'll get you every time.


I first became aware of this Group Captain, during the physical act of love. A profound sense of sadness came over me.

I do not shun the company of women. But I do deny them my essence.


You wanna know what I think? I think you're some kind of deviated prevert. I think General Ripper found out about your preversion, and that you were organizing some kind of mutiny of preverts. Now MOVE!


That movie has one of my personal favorite lines.

You can't fight in here. This is the war room!

Did you see they redid "Fail Safe" live on tv a few years ago? It was hard to get as scared as the first one as that scenario isn't all that likely anymore (we don't rely on bombers alone to deliver nukes). They should have rewritten it with sub crews, IMO.


I do remember it - was the time setting current day? I agree that makes the aircraft scenario somewhat anachronistic.. from what I recall though it was a pretty good remake.


No, the time was still (as I recall) in the 50s.
I just thought that they should have updated it since it was very out of date.




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