The title gives a big clue to the tone of this film. I'm not that big a Kubrick fan and this hasn't done much to change my opinion. Full Metal Jacket is a classic and The Shining is enjoyable enough. Apart from that, I'm not too bothered. I can see how good his films are technically, the compositions, the transitions and all that business, but I don't find them that enjoyable or fun.
Dr. Strangelove (can I stick with an abbreviated title, please?) tries to be fun. And succeeds at times. Some of the lines had me chuckling away like a baboon that's just seen a You've Been Framed clip of a gibbon falling into a liquidiser. My favourite quote, by the President of America, has something to do with a war room and fighting. Other attempts at humour fall suspiciously flat. The titular Dr. Strangelove in particular was really tiresome with his barely restrained nazi leanings.
As you may know, or have guessed from the title, Dr. Strangelove is about nuclear war. Brig. Gen. Jack Ripper (looking at the photo above, does he remind you of anyone else?) decides it's about time to teach those naughty commies a lesson and so, without Presidential authorisation, makes a pre-emptive nuclear strike on Russia. The planes make a bee line for their targets and prepare themselves for mass slaughter. One pilot even dons a cowboy hat. The President is miffed about the state of affairs and takes advice from his advisors and military (in the form of George C. Scott) who react in a typical militaristic fashion.
Having the eighties as the playground for my teenage years meant that the threat of nuclear war was all too real for me. Threads and When the Wind Blows didn't help matters and neither did the video for Frankie Goes to Hollywood's 'Two Tribes' that was initially shown in all it's glory on late night Channel 4 (preceded by the brilliantly seedy- but sadly not available on YouTube - 'Relax' video). All of these jolly songs and films led me to think that a crispy death was imminent. But strangely, I'd much rather watch any of these again rather than Dr. Strangelove despite their depressing nature.
It's partly down to Peter Sellers. Like Kubrick, I've never seen the fascination with Sellers. Here he plays three characters. And he's basically showing off (in true Doccortex fashion, any display of real talent is classed as "showing off"). Admittedly there's only Dr Strangelove who's irritating but I spent a fair portion of the film thinking about Sellers' acting skills and wondering whether he'd pop up as another character. Grudgingly, I would say that's he's pretty handy as an actor and maybe a comedy is the best place to play multiple roles. It still brought me out of the film though.
If you like this you could also try:
Kind Hearts and Coronets, Threads, When the Wind Blows, The Mouse that Roared.