Stanley Kubrick’s jet-black anti-nuke farce, from 1964, is being projected in the narrower screen format the writer-director intended—close to the shapes of old movies, TV tubes, and standard comic-book panels. It’s the perfect frame for Kubrick’s devastating deadpan burlesque of (among other things) sappy Hollywood war sagas, gassy newsreel coverage, and, above all, theories about acceptable nuclear atrocities that belong in futuristic nightmare comics or in Mad magazine. In ninety-three jolting minutes, Kubrick and his co-writers, Terry Southern and Peter George, depict what happens when Sterling Hayden’s deranged General Jack D. Ripper orders a nuclear attack, Slim Pickens’s wily Major (King) Kong moves to deliver his B-52’s payload in the Soviet Union, and the top Yanks in the war room try to pick up the pieces. The moviemakers establish a cutthroat satiric tone, and the cast carries it through, from Pickens and Hayden to Peter Sellers in three roles (the mad Teuton Strangelove, a Stevenson-like President, a low-key British captain) and George C. Scott, who’s at his juiciest and funniest as General Buck Turgidson.
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