February 2, 1964 [Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb]

TV is going crazy for color: Bonanza makes Can-Can look pallid in comparison--so if you want ‘em planted in their seats at the movies, you better give ‘em colors.

But not, Stanley Kubrick decided, if you’re filming the end of the world, which needs only the clarity of bright lights, the growing pools of darkness at the periphery, the glare of fluorescents. Dr. Strangelove uses black and white like a newscast, Walter Cronkite confirming your fears--no, like a comic strip, Ignatz Mouse chucking the biggest rock ever--better yet, an old crime movie, gun-toting heels on the Late Late Show laughing at the straight world. The “blood-dimmed tide is loosed,” kiddies--and the worst men are running the show.

--Or maybe just one man: Peter Sellers, both President and Group Captain--and most of all as Strangelove himself, curled up in his wheelchair like a leather reptile, looking always like he’s ready to bite.

Or is it Sterling Hayden, his cigar thrust upward, his fluids pure, the bathroom waiting? Or “Buck” Turgidson, George C. Scott flashing a meat-eating grin, no longer content to take down only “Fast” Eddy Felsen? Or Slim Pickens as Maj. “King” Kong, happy he has a job to do, turning the picture into the last Western we’ll ever get to see?

Kubrick reminds me more and more of an angry Genesis Jehovah:
And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
--which makes me worry when the movie sings, “We’ll meet again …”


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