Dr. Strangelove Or: How Stanley Kubrick Invented Black Comedy

By Cyn Felthousen-Post
Left: Peter Sellers as Dr. Strangelove. Right: George C. Scott as General 'Buck' Turgidson. Source: IMDB
Stanley Kubrick's 1964 nuclear-war farce Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb has been called the first black comedy in film history. The film, starring Peter Sellers and George C. Scott, addresses many rather serious questions of the era, when the Cold War cast its ominous shadow over daily life in America. The United States and the Soviet Union were capable of destroying each other many times over -- was this concept of "mutually assured destruction" supposed to make us sleep easy at night? The "peace," if that is the word for it, depended on a precarious balance -- what if something goes wrong? And what if the people in power -- who are endlessly wargaming doomsday scenarios and coldly crunching numbers -- are slightly crazy? While the outcome of these quandaries in the film is complete annihilation, the film is able to find the absurdity in the situation and satirize it.

Audiences had never quite seen anything like Dr. Strangelove, and there hasn't been a film quite like it since.