When it was released on this day 50 years ago, director Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb became an instant countercultural classic.
This satirical take on the Soviet-U.S. arms race and the Cold War stars British comic actor Peter Sellers in several roles, including that of the titular character, who eventually finds it impossible to restrain the impulse to give the U.S. president a Nazi salute with his leather-gloved hand.
- The film’s first test screening was delayed two months because it had been scheduled on Nov. 22, 1963—the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
- George C. Scott, who played General Buck Turgidson, vowed never to work with Kubrick again after the director goaded him into his over-the-top performance by filming what he said were practice runs that would not be seen.
- The Dr. Strangelove character’s accent was inspired by Kubrick’s Austrian-American photographer, Weegee.
- Sellers was initially supposed to play Major T. J. “King” Kong, the role that went to country crooner Slim Pickens after Sellers was injured.
- Set design was handled by Ken Adam, who had worked on several James Bond movies, including Dr. No.
- Among the other titles Kubrick was considering for the movie were Dr. Doomsday or: How to Start World War III Without Even Trying, Dr. Strangelove’s Secret Uses of Uranus and Wonderful Bomb.
- Kubrick had originally planned the ending to be a massive pie fight in the war room. The scene was actually filmed, but then cut out.
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