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You can't run a dark humor website without reviewing Dr. Strangelove. We knew that when we started bearwithadeathlist.co.uk and now the time has come for us to highlight one of the most beloved dark comedies ever made, Dr. Strangelove Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb. Yes, it's a dark comedy about nuclear war. From the 60s. And it's awesome!
Dr. Strangelove is one of the most well known and respected dark comedies in cinema history. Released in 1964 this movie presents itself in glorious black and white which fits pretty well to the dark story. Dr. Strangelove has been described as a movie about the "idiocy of nuclear war" and "the idiots that would erupt it", and that's a pretty accurate assessment. The film starts off with a psychotic US general called General Ripper (whose full name is Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper, a clear reference to Jack the Ripper) as he exploits a bureaucratic loophole in the chain of command to not only send an entire fleet of bombers equipped with nuclear payloads to attack the Soviet Union but also prevent the President of the United States from recalling the bombers without Ripper's own approval. Subsequently the Pentagon learns of this and they desperately try preventing the disaster which would inevitably lead to a nuclear holocaust.
It's difficult to go into details about this movie without giving away too much, so we will try to focus on the characters rather than the details of the story. For starters we have the clueless President of the United States, played by Peter Sellers, who does not recall the time when he signed the particular order which allowed General Ripper to launch the bombers without presidential approval. Then there's General Buck Turgidson, played by George C. Scott, who is hands down the most entertaining character in the movie. Turgidson chews gum in the War Room at the Pentagon and continuously suggests to the President that the Pentagon should back up Ripper's insane plan rather than risk that the Soviet retaliation destroys the United States; he also seems to think of the developed situation as a minor mishap. George C. Scott was supposedly tricked into playing this character in such an over the top way. Whether that's true or not doesn't really matter: he stole the show either way. Of course Peter Sellers was also pretty awesome, as always (and if you don't know who Peter Sellers is, you're probably too young for this website). Sellers plays two other roles in the movie besides the President, that of a British officer who is at Ripper's airbase as part of an exchange program and tries to stop the insane General Ripper, and the title character Dr. Strangelove, a former Nazi scientist who functions as the President's scientific advisor and has some pretty awkward ideas about how to repopulate the Earth in the event of a nuclear holocaust.
Then we have General Ripper, played by Sterling Hayden, who seems to be obsessed with keeping his bodily fluids pure and hell bent on destroying the Soviet Union at any cost. This is one crazy S.O.B. and Sterling Hayden delivers the role very well. And let's not forget Major Kong, or Major T. J "King" Kong (played by Slim Pickens) to be precise, the pilot of one of the bomber planes whose final seconds in the film constitute perhaps the single most memorable and surreal moment in the entire movie.
As for how the story progresses, we'll leave you to guess what sort of over the top situations could develop from the opening scenario with such characters involved. Needless to say, things just keep getting more and more ridiculous as the movie approaches its climax, a surreal finale of epic proportions.
In summary, we think that Dr. Strangelove is deservedly considered one of the best dark comedies of all time. Its over the top characters, its shameless satirization of an inherently dark and terrifying subject, and its surreal imagery (especially at the end of the film) make this a very enjoyable dark comedy indeed. We highly recommend it to all fans of dark humor films.
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