Today In History: Dr. Strangelove Hits Theaters
Think of films that qualify to be on an authoritative “top ten comedy films ever made” list and Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 masterpiece Dr. Strangelove will almost certainly make the cut. The movie, considered one of both the funniest and smartest movies in the history of cinema, first debuted on this day in 1964.
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb was adored by both critics and the public. Its dark comedy struck exactly the perfect chord with an American moviegoing body that felt ever-escalating anxiety over the threat of nuclear war with the USSR. Public opinion of America’s nuclear program had deteriorated significantly, especially after the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Kubrick’s depiction of a Pentagon filled with delusional crackpots appealed to this cynicism.
John Patterson of The Guardian writes, “There had been nothing in comedy like Dr Strangelove ever before. All the gods before whom the America of the stolid, paranoid 50s had genuflected – the Bomb, the Pentagon, the National Security State, the President himself, Texan masculinity and the alleged Commie menace of water-fluoridation – went into the wood-chipper and never got the same respect ever again.”
Strangelove was also deemed “arguably the best political satire of the century” by Roger Ebert.
If you’ve never seen the film, today is a good day for it.