"Cold war hilarity, still timely"
Dir. Stanley Kubrick; writ. Peter George (novel), Kubrick and Terry Southern; feat. Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Slim Pickens (PG)
Nuclear annihilation — how do you get your brain around it? Do you bite your nails and root for Ben Affleck to head it off at the pass in Sum of All Fears? That's fun, but do you really feel better after Ben saves the world? Maybe a little gallows humor is in order.
In Strangelove, nuclear war is triggered because one cigar-chomping general has penis problems. And this story was written before the Clinton administration. It ends with a deranged scientist plotting a secret underground colony in which government officials will be spared the apocalypse — and that's before we heard about the Shadow Government.
Stanley Kubrick's sense of humor was never so evident as in this film, and he was smart enough to use lead actor Peter Sellers in not one, but three roles, including the immortal Strangelove. The film's full of great one-liners and weird, quotable dialogue, but it endures because this humor conveys some ugly but undeniable truths about wars — the idiotic things that get us into them, the difficulty our leaders have getting out of them. Anybody can show the world blowing up, but it takes a certain inspiration to accompany those images with the sentimental strains of "We'll Meet Again." Texas Public Radio gets extra irony points for scheduling this a few weeks before Patton, a George C. Scott film with a slightly different take on war and peace.
Screens at 7:30 pm, Tuesday, June 4 as part of Texas Public Radio's Cinema Tuesdays.
AMC Huebner Oaks, $10 members/$12 non-members.