If you’re seeing Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, you can make it a double bill with his comic masterpiece Dr. Strangelove (1964), which will be expiring from Crackle at the end of February. Written by Kubrick, Terry Southern, and Peter George, based on George’s book, the movie is strangely similar to Sidney Lumet’s straightforward drama Fail-Safe, made the same year, but it’s more satisfying to laugh at these incidents than to worry about them.
The story, of course, is about a crazy general (Sterling Hayden) who orders a nuclear attack, and it follows all the other players as they try to figure out what to do and how to make it stop. Peter Sellers plays three roles, Captain Mandrake of the Royal Air Force, the President of the United States, and the zany title character; at some point, he was set to play a fourth, the pilot ordered to drop the bomb, but, happily, Slim Pickens took over.
George C. Scott rounds out the cast as a Pentagon general, and everyone is brilliantly funny. Gilbert Taylor’s cavernous black-and-white cinematography de-emphasizes the absurdity, making it even funnier. The movie received four Oscar nominations, for Best Picture, Actor (Sellers), Director, and Screenplay, but lost all four. Amazingly, the movie’s political shenanigans do not seem at all dated.