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Peace is our Profession

October 4, 2010

I recently took the time to watch Fail-Safe.  And although I found the film to be moderately entertaining I also found myself wishing I had just watched Dr. Strangelove instead.  Now, these two films have some obvious similarities, due in part to their similar subject matter: the 1960s Cold War threat of nuclear war.  But also because of their similar source material (I won’t go into detail but a handful of law suits were settled out of court.) Comparing the two films, it is very obvious that one of them is a dark comedy and the other is not.  It’s also very obvious that one of these films is a Stanley Kubrick film and the other is not. What’s surprising is that the Stanley Kubrick film is the comedy.  And, considering it is a Stanley Kubrick film, its actually quite funny.

With everything he did, Kubrick aimed for perfection.  And I guess that’s a pretty good description of  Dr. Strangelove. The humor is flawless but it has less to do with Kubrick’s writing and more to do with his decision to simply let the cast run wild.  This  cast, including Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, and Sterling Hayden, is phenomenal and, from what I understand, many of the more memorable lines of dialogue were ad-libbed on set.

Another highlight of the film:  Kubrick’s attention to detail.  It is absolutely staggering.  The detail within the B-52 cockpit alone is mind-boggling.  Keep in mind that at the time this film was made the B-52 was the single greatest deterrent against a Soviet first-strike.  Those planes were in the air and prepared to deliver their payload on a moment’s notice. Needless to say, any and all details pertaining to the operation and function of the B-52 was ultra top-secret.   With that said, everything you see in the film was constructed from scratch based off of old B-29s flown in World War II and a single photograph the filmmakers obtained of the B-52’s cockpit.  The filmmakers nailed their sets with such accuracy that it prompted an investigation as to whether Kubrick and his staff illegally obtained information regarding the plane.  Suspicion of espionage is one hell of a compliment.

Needless to say, if you haven’t seen it you should.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Alan Kugler permalink
    October 4, 2010 4:27 am

    Neat! I’m now immediately ready to watch it and would go watch it right now, but you have the DVD.

    • October 4, 2010 1:41 pm

      ha. of course i have it… it’s my dvd! fortunately for you the movie appears to be on youtube in it’s entirety.

  2. October 5, 2010 6:28 pm

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