Thursday, May 12, 2011

Movie Moments: #28

To give the firm its full title, Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, is a 1963 black comedy directed, produced and co-written by Stanley Kubrick. It satirises the nuclear scare by depicting a rogue general sending a flight of B52’s into Russia for a first strike nuclear attack. With the assistance of the US President and military, most of the bomb carrying planes are shot down.  The rest are brought back when the recall code is obtained, except for one. That plane, commanded by Major T J “King” Kong, is severely damaged and has had its communications and electronics knocked out but manages to stay airborne until it reaches its target. Finding that the bomb is unable to be released, Major Kong straddles it and releases it manually, riding it down whilst whooping and waving his cowboy hat, the biggest phallic symbol in all of moviedom. The movie closes with film of multiple nuclear explosions as Vera Lynn sings “We’ll Meet Again”.

Major T. J. "King" Kong: “Well, boys, I reckon this is it - nuclear combat toe to toe with the Roosskies . . . Survival kit contents check. In them you'll find:
one forty-five calibre automatic;
two boxes of ammunition;
four days' concentrated emergency rations;
one drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine, vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquiliser pills;
one miniature combination Russian phrase book and Bible;
one hundred dollars in rubles;
one hundred dollars in gold;
nine packs of chewing gum;
one issue of prophylactics;
three lipsticks;
three pair of nylon stockings.
Shoot, a fella' could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.”

There are some production associations with the death of President John F Kennedy:

• The film was produced and filmed during the spring and summer of 1963 with the first test screening scheduled for November 22, 1963, the day that John F Kennedy was assassinated. Because the movie is a black comedy involving the American President, the premiere was rescheduled for late January 1964.

• Major Kong's above comment about the survival kit was originally "A fella could have a pretty good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff". "Dallas" was overdubbed with "Vegas" after President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Although it is heard as“Vegas”, Kong still mouths the word "Dallas".

• There is a deleted pie-fight scene in the War Room during which US President Muffley took a pie in the face and fell down, prompting General Turgidson to cry, "Gentlemen! Our gallant young president has just been struck down in his prime!" Stanley Kubrick had already decided to cut the pie fight, and the line about the President, by the time President John F Kennedy was assassinated.

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