Your Pal Brian
2003-06-25 05:00:55 UTC
nekkid", of course) and since I know what fans of hers so many
of you are...
It seems the National Review staff were discussing the 2001 Oscar
nominees, and everyone's favorite vituperative bitch-goddess
decided to ignore the stock contenders and review a good movie
instead. Points for taste, you must admit. Here it is:
If the Academy Awards represented a sincere quest to locate
the best movie of the year, the clear winner would be Dr.
Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the
Bomb. For the 37th straight year. Without having actually seen
any of the movies nominated for an award this year, I can state
categorically that none of them will surpass Stanley Kubrick's
That's why all these ceaseless Hollywood-awards ceremonies are so
excruciatingly insipid. As Woody Allen proposed, How about:
"Best Fascist Dictator Adolf Hitler"?
The basic plot of Dr. Strangelove is that an American general,
enraged by the fluoridation of the water, unilaterally launches a
nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, thus setting off the Soviets'
Doomsday Machine, which blows up the world in the last scene.
The Soviets built their Doomsday machine to keep up with the
Americans whom they believed were nervously building their own
Doomsday machine: "We read about it in the New York Times," the
Soviet diplomat explains.
Like Shakespeare and the Bible, Dr. Strangelove is a font of
memorable phrases. Yeah sure, everybody knows the classics "I
do not avoid women, Mandrake, but I do deny them my essence";
"You'll have to answer to the Coca-Cola Company"; and, "You can't
fight in here. This is the War Room!"
But, really, every line is great. Gradually the less-conspicuous
Strangelove lines seep into your vocabulary and become part of
"I smell a big fat commie rat."
"The redcoats are coming!"
"The premier man of the people, but he is also a man, if you know
what I mean."
These are paraphrases. Alas, I don't have a copy of the script.
I'd restate more of the plot and dialogue, but writing about a
great movie is like writing about a poem: Didn't the poet say
One question that has always intrigued me is whether Dr.
Strangelove's cult status is strictly a conservative phenomenon.
I include movie references in only one out of every dozen columns
or so. But it's always the same movie. Do liberals obsessively
recite lines from Dr. Strangelove, too? Could this be, finally,
a common bond that we share with our liberal friends?
Admittedly, they might not like Peter Sellers's parody of Adlai
Stevenson as the hapless, milquetoast, Carteresque president. Or
the (off-screen) Soviet premier being portrayed as a drunken
Russian who must always be asked by the president to turn the
music down. But Dr. Strangelove is, after all, a movie about a
Bircher setting off a nuclear war. Liberals ought to like that.
Alas no. When it comes to nuclear war, liberals sound like the
punch line to a feminist joke. ("That's not funny!") Remember,
Dr. Strangelove is a comedy. Peter Sellers plays three different
parts (only because he fell off the bomb during filming, injured
himself, and was unable to play four). Here are some real-life
quotes from movie reviews of Dr. Strangelove in the past few
" a forceful reminder that somewhere in the human spirit lurks
the mad impulse and the means to blow up the world."
" a cautionary tale of an ideological war from which there is no
return, a message still relevant today."
" the image of nuclear holocaust just a button and a madman away
still haunts us."
" scary "
Please. If we can't laugh about nuclear annihilation, what can
we laugh about?
These are the people who wanted to stock cyanide pills at
college-health centers in case of nuclear attack. When President
Ronald Reagan warmed up a radio mike once by saying, "In five
minutes, we begin bombing," liberals solemnly manufactured
posters showcasing the quote superimposed over a sinister-looking
Reagan at five minutes to noon! I don't know if any liberals
bought the posters, but conservatives couldn't stock them fast
Dr. Strangelove is most likely the funniest movie ever made.
Stop worrying and learn to love the bomb.