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’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.
Basic 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).
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.
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.
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.
General Jack D. Ripper: Were you ever a prisoner of war?
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.