This blackest of comedies miraculously manages to not sacrifice satire for the sake of propaganda, and make even nuclear war funny. An absurdist’s dream-film, Dr. Strangelove put Kubrick firmly on the map and gave much-deserved international recognition to Peter Sellers for his outstanding work in three separate roles.
The first time I saw this was in my college video library. Lots of old top-loading VCRs that seemed bigger than xerox machines, crummy, uncomfortable furniture, lousy headphones. And I was laughing hysterically (in a library, mind you) for nearly the entire film, right to the Vera Miles song at the end that accompanied stunning shots of actual atomic explosions.
One of the strengths of this film, unlike most from this era, is that it’s Cold War-themed story does not seem outdated. Kubrick leaves most of the politics on the sidelines to focus on the absurdity, and to let the satire ring brilliantly.
Yes it’s a left-leaning film, but it’s also very damn funny and never self-righteous—it’s much more intelligent than that. Kubrick’s merciless portrayal of the military could be offensive to those who refuse to understand what satire truly is.