Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on November 3rd, 2004
Sterling Hayden, as the demented General Jack D. Ripper, sends a squadron of bombers offto nuke the Soviet Union. The principle bomber pilot is the equally demented Slim Pickens.Captain Mandrake (Peter Sellers) desperately tries to stop the bombers. The President (PeterSellers again) summons his principle aids to the war room and the assembled characters(including George C. Scott, and Sellers again as the titular character) do all they can to avert adoomsday scenario.
It’s absurd, but frighteningly logical. It’s hilarious, yet disturbing. It’s the black farcevariation on Fail-Safe, and it’s probably the Kubrick film with the most propulsive pace.The characterizations are delicious caricatures, and though the specific context of the Cold Warmay have past, the film’s conceit of ideological loons sending us all on to Hell in a handbasketis as relevant as the day it was released. A masterpiece.
Three options here: the original mono, DTS, and 5.1. There isn’t a lot to choose frombetween the 5.1 and the DTS, but shouldn’t be too surprising — that a remix from mono soundsas resonant as it does should be ample for most people. Sterling Hayden’s tones, for instance,are now the Voice of Doom. There isn’t that much by way of surround, but the effort is made,and there are none of the flaws that usually plague remixes. A decent job, in other words.
The picture is presented in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen. This means that watching thison a 16×9 monitor will involve a bit of cropping, but the lack of grain makes up for this. Whatgrain there is on the print itself is very minor, and there is no visible edge enhancement. Theblack-and-white tones are superb, with the blacks being an absolute pitch. There is a tiny bit ofspeckling early on, but otherwise the print is in excellent shape.
No commentary track. Instead, the extras are all on Disc 2. A series of 5 short documentaries(ranging in length from 18 to 46 minutes) can be played as a single multi-part entity with self-explanatory titles: “No Fighting in the War Room: Dr. Strangelove and the Nuclear Threat,”“Inside Dr. Strangelove,” “Best Sellers or: Dr. Strangelove and Peter Sellers,” “The Art ofStanley Kubrick: From Short Films to Strangelove” and “A Conversation with RobertMcNamara” (the latter has the former Secretary of State discussing the chances such a thingcould have happened). The result is a pretty thorough exploration of the movie and the talentsinvolved, even if there is some ground that is gone over more than once. There are split screeninterview with Scott and Sellers (promotional tools that would have had local interviewers fillingthe rest of the screen, so we never actually hear the questions), filmographies for the main castand Kubrick, an advertising still gallery, and theatrical trailers for the feature, The Bridge onthe River Kwai, Farenheit 9/11, The China Syndrome, On theWaterfront and From Here to Eternity. The menu is fully animated and scored. Onelast little extra is a scrapbook booklet with an essay by Roger Ebert.
A fabulous film, with pretty solid extras.
Special Features List
- “No Fighting in the War Room: Dr. Strangelove and the Nuclear Threat” Documentary
- “Inside Dr. Strangelove” Documentary
- “Best Sellers: Peter Sellers and Dr. Strangelove” Featurette
- “The Art of Stanley Kubrick: From Short Films to Strangelove” Featurette
- “A Conversation with Robert McNamara”
- Split Screen Interviews with George C. Scott and Peter Sellers
- Advertising Gallery