“Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964) returns to the big screen this weekend when the Smith Opera House presents producer/director Stanley Kubrick's satirical, provocative black comedy/fantasy regarding doomsday and Cold War politics that features an accidental, inadvertent nuclear attack.
Easily the funniest movie ever made about global thermonuclear holocaust, “Dr. Strangelove” seems to grow more relevant with each passing year. Obsessed with the idea that Communists are trying to rob Americans of their “precious bodily fluids,” General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden), commander of Burpelson Air Force Base, goes completely mad and sends his bomber wing to attack the U.S.S.R. U.S. President Muffley (Peter Sellers) meets desperately with his advisors, including blustery Gen. “Buck” Turgidson (Peter Scott) and wheelchair-bound ex-Nazi scientist Dr. Strangelove (also played by Sellers). Left with little choice, the powers that be formulate a plan to have the Russians shoot down the American bombers. However, the Soviet ambassador (Bull), informs the president that the Soviet Union has constructed a “Doomsday Device” which will automatically trigger buried nuclear weapons if their country is hit. Meanwhile, British officer Lionel Mandrake (also Sellers) busies himself with trying to trick Gen. Ripper into revealing the code that will recall the bombers. Eventually, all of them are shot down or recalled, except for one flown by Major T.J. “King” Kong (Slim Pickens), a crafty pilot who manages to evade Russian fighters and missiles as he heads for his target deep inside the USSR.
“Dr. Strangelove” also contains some truly remarkable comic performances, especially from Sellers in his triple role and Hayden as the mad general, and priceless dialogue (“Gentlemen, you can't fight in here. This is the War Room!”) and images (Slim Pickens's character riding a missile rodeo style, whooping and hollering into oblivion). A prophetic look at the insanity of superpower politics which, like George Orwell's “1984,” has entered the lexicon of modern political discourse and regularly appears on critics top-10 lists of the best films ever made.
The film received four Academy Award Nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor – Peter Sellers, Best Director – Stanley Kubrick and Best Adapted Screenplay – Stanley Kubrick, Peter George, Terry Southern.
“Dr. Strangelove” will be screened January 9, 10, 11 and 12. Showtimes are 7 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sunday. With a running time of 1 hour, 33 minutes, it has no MPAA rating but is considered of “PG” quality. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens. All seats on Thursday are $3.
The Smith Opera House is located at 82 Seneca Street in Geneva. Call 315-781-LIVE or toll-free 1-866-355 LIVE for additional information. The Smith is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, the City of Geneva, the Town of Geneva and by contributions from individual supporters.
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