The Black and White Film Appreciation Thread: Part 1 Dr Strangelove

I’m sick of hearing younger folks give short shrift to films merely because they are black and white.
“I don’t watch Black and white movies… they suck”

Many brilliant films were filmed in this glorious method. And most of them hold up today.

In order to bust ignorance and prejudices against films which are not watched for merely being black and white
I invite those Dopers who have this prejudice to watch and discuss the film of the week. Of course fans are more than welcome to gush on these great features.

I wish to start with the Comedy Classic Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964)

This is a film in which colour would ruin the mood and feel of many of its scenes more specifically in the famous fictional War Room (rumoured to be the first place Regan wanted to see upon becoming President).

The pace of the comedy is not frantic but the lunacy of the characters and situation guarantee a few strong laughs especially in Peter Sellers three characters. The politics and technology may be out of date but the themes hold up well.

No one can deny that the final scene Slim Pickens is in is one of the most memorable in film history. This is not meant to be a slag but for years that image seemed to me to sum up what an American is.

Not the destroyer but the cowboy who will do his damndest to see something through no matter what the odds against him and will let you know he has succeeded and enjoys it.

There are so many funny lines that are thrown out that it takes more than one viewing to catch them and of course George C Sott’s performance is down right hilarious, especially when he gives his answer on the crews chances of getting through despite the entire soviet Defence.

I ask for people to view this masterpiece of black comedy and respond.

“Gentleman, you can’t fight in here… this is the War Room”

“Mr. President, we cannot have a doomsday gap”

“Premier Kissov is a man of the people, but he is a man, if you catch my drift”


Was the entire movie in black and white? I’ve only seen it once and it’s been a few years, but I seem to remember the scenes on the bomber being lit with a red light.

Nope entirely Black and white.

the movie is a small slice of genius… the scene where peter sellers as the president is on the phone with the russian president is one of the funniest in cinematic history… and you’re right, kubrick had such an eye for playing with shadows and light that the film would’ve been ruined in color…
another film by a filmmaker who used both black and white as well as color successfully was akira kurosawa…
now let’s be honest, rashomon (and most of his early films), would suck in color…

Some drunk guy in a bar once told me that this wasn’t a “black and white movie”, but instead was a “movie filmed in black and white”. His argument was that “black and white” movies are movies filmed before color filming was available, whereas “movies filmed in black and white” are movies filmed in black and white despite the availability of color filming. I wasn’t sure if this was some drunken logic or something he heard in a Film and Theate 101 class, as his explanation for why he distinguished the two didn’t make any sense :stuck_out_tongue:

That being said, I love this film :slight_smile:

My favorite part was the President’s telephone conversation with the Soviet Premier. Sellers makes it sound nothing like a conversation between the two most powerful men on the planet :smiley:

(lifted off of imdb and odds are it’s not verbatim):

Just reading that makes me want to watch the film! Good thing I have it on DVD :wink:

Sadly, I think we’ve crossed a new generational watershed. I taught this film in my freshman comp classes last year. To my great surprise, all but one of the students hated it. This particular student happened to be a fifth-year senior who was only just now getting around to taking freshman comp, hence old enough to remember the Cold War. The others simply didn’t get it – they had no idea what was being satirized, or even that it was satire at all. There were a few laughs when Mandrake shot the Coke machine, but everything else was lost on them.

At that moment, a month before my twenty-sixth birthday, I realized I was officially an Old Fogey. :frowning:

That one kills me too, it typified the one upmanship those two countries had at that time. “Don’t say you’re more sorry than I am”

My favorite Dr. Strangeloves Discussion of the possibility of a doomsday device. Noting that for it to work the enemy must know about it. His final shout of “Why did you keep it a seceret” Just floors me with his delivery

Yikes… there are people who don’t know what the cold war was?
What the heck are they teaching in school? I mean the students must know that the Cold war is what made the United States a Superpower and ensured their continued active roll in international politics right??

How old were these students? I mean the humour can’t all be just an age issue, in an time where lunatic conspiracy theories are abound would General Ripper’s Ravings not make for a few laughs?

General Jack D. Ripper: Mandrake, do you realize that in addition to fluoridating water, why, there are studies underway to fluoridate salt, flour, fruit juices, soup, sugar, milk… ice cream. Ice cream, Mandrake, children’s ice cream.
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Lord, Jack.
General Jack D. Ripper: You know when fluoridation first began?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: I-- no, no. I don’t, Jack.
General Jack D. Ripper: Nineteen hundred and forty-six. Nineteen forty-six, Mandrake. How does that coincide with your post-war Commie conspiracy, huh? It’s incredibly obvious, isn’t it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual. Certainly without any choice. That’s the way your hard-core Commie works.
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Uh, Jack, Jack, listen, tell me, tell me, Jack. When did you first… become… well, develop this theory?
General Jack D. Ripper: Well, I, uh… I… I… first became aware of it, Mandrake, during the physical act of love.
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Hmm.
General Jack D. Ripper: Yes, a uh, a profound sense of fatigue… a feeling of emptiness followed. Luckily I… I was able to interpret these feelings correctly. Loss of essence.
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Hmm.
General Jack D. Ripper: I can assure you it has not recurred, Mandrake. Women uh… women sense my power and they seek the life essence. I, uh… I do not avoid women, Mandrake.
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: No.
General Jack D. Ripper: But I… I do deny them my essence.

Great movie. The best black comedy ever.

You people are all a bunch of preverts.

Seriously, though, I think this film proves that Peter Sellers is one of the most underrated actors of the 20th century. What’d he do, 3 different roles in this film?

By the way: why was the plot of this film almost identical to that of Failsafe? Sure, one’s a comedy and one’s serious, but the general themes of the story are identical. Was this intentional?

Sellers was supposed to play four characters. But he couldn’t get the accent right for Maj.T.J Kong. So Slim Pickens got the part.

Eighteen. And I expect they knew what the Cold War was, in a vague and generalized way, but had very little concept of what it was like.

Curiously, Dr. Strangelove was based on a different serious novel, the all but forgotten Red Alert. I don’t think there was any deliberate connection with Fail-Safe.

If I remember correctly, it wasn’t that Sellers couldn’t get an accent right, but that he injured his leg or something and couldn’t do the moving around the B-52 set.

Amen. I get so tired of hearing youth used as an excuse for ignorance and lack of imagination. People can appreciate Hamlet without having been around in Elizabethan England, much less medieval Denmark.

Imdb says the broken leg just iced it. Perhaps without it he might have gotten the accent.

Another point. I always loved how the B-52 cast a B-17 shadow.


The combination Russian phrase book and Bible is just a stroke of genius :smiley:

One of my favorite movies.

You’re going to have to answer to the Coca Cola company.

I guess it has to be a gnerational thing. The movie was on the other night. I watched it. My duaghter (college sophomore and English major) was mildly interested in it only for the cultural references that she’s seen on the Simpsons or other places. Son #1 only wanted to see Major Kong ride the bomb down. Son #2 watched about 3 minutes and gave up.

Fretful Porpentine is right. Unless you actually lived through the Cold War, specifically flashpoints like the Cuban Missile Crisis and ideas like flouridation is a Communist plot, I don’t think you can possibly understand that the movie, while taken to absurdity, is entirely logical.

Awsome movie. One of my favorites.

For next weeks film, I would like to nominate “Night of the Living Dead”. :slight_smile:

Fagjunk Theology: Not just for sodomite propagandists anymore.

i actually took a class on kubrick when i was in college when i was 20(and for the record, i was born in 1980, so i don’t remember much of the cold war except the end of it, and i still think the movie was genius) and i’d like to clarify a couple things that other people have already pointed out…

one, a little known fact is that peter sellers didn’t want to do the role that slim pickens took over, so lied about the leg to get kubrick to let him out of it…

two, kubrick had seen failsafe and much of the movie is an intentional parody of it

three, the simpsons have parodied almost all of the films kubrick has made, predominatly parodying dr. strangelove(the opening where they ride the bomb down), a clockwork orange(where bart is dressed at a halloween party as alex) and 2001: a space odyssey(where pierce brosnan supplies the voice of a homicidal house unit that lusts after marge) and the shining(“don’t you mean ‘the shining’?” “hush boy, do you want to get sued?”) still waiting for lolita, barry lyndon, full metal jacket and eyes wide shut :slight_smile: