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November 27, 2004

Die Welt According to Herr Doktor Merkwürdichliebe

As Europe goes toe-to-toe with the Ruskies in Kiev, as Washington and Moscow work to revive the nuclear arms race (at least at the level of bluster and bombast) and as the manly cry to Preserve Our Essence goes up on the homefront...

In a limited engagement at the Music Box, Nov 26–Dec 2: a fresh, 40th anniversary print of Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

I'm downright giddy.

Not a fan of the ranking game, I'll rarely cop to having a 'favorite' anything. But, if pressed for a favorite filmmaker, Kubrick is an easy choice. And, if pressed for a title, Strangelove generally tops my list.

Ebert and Wilmington discuss.

I'll resist the urge to quote the whole damned screenplay (at any rate, all that's available* is an early shooting draft featuring an odd extra-terrestrial narrative frame, a version of the infamous alternate pie-fight ending and nary a word about bodily fluids, and also naturally lacking all of Sellers' improvizational brilliance). So, just the classic moments, poached from IMDb:

General Jack D. Ripper: Mandrake, do you recall what Clemenceau once said about war?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: No, I don't think I do, sir, no.
General Jack D. Ripper: He said war was too important to be left to the generals. When he said that, 50 years ago, he might have been right. But today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought. I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.
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.

Not to neglect President Merkin Muffley's eleventh hour War Room phone call to Soviet Premier Dmitri Kissoff:

Hello?... Ah... I can't hear too well. Do you suppose you could turn the music down just a little?... Oh-ho, that's much better... yeah... huh... yes... Fine, I can hear you now, Dmitri... Clear and plain and coming through fine... I'm coming through fine, too, eh?... Good, then... well, then, as you say, we're both coming through fine... Good... Well, it's good that you're fine and... and I'm fine... I agree with you, it's great to be fine... a-ha-ha-ha-ha... Now then, Dmitri, you know how we've always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the Bomb... The Bomb, Dmitri... The hydrogen bomb!... Well now, what happened is... ah... one of our base commanders, he had a sort of... well, he went a little funny in the head... you know... just a little... funny. And, ah... he went and did a silly thing... Well, I'll tell you what he did. He ordered his planes... to attack your country... Ah... Well, let me finish, Dmitri... Let me finish, Dmitri... Well listen, how do you think I feel about it?... Can you imagine how I feel about it, Dmitri?... Why do you think I'm calling you? Just to say hello?... Of course I like to speak to you!... Of course I like to say hello!... Not now, but anytime, Dmitri. I'm just calling up to tell you something terrible has happened... It's a friendly call. Of course it's a friendly call... Listen, if it wasn't friendly... you probably wouldn't have even got it... They will not reach their targets for at least another hour... I am... I am positive, Dmitri... Listen, I've been all over this with your ambassador. It is not a trick... Well, I'll tell you. We'd like to give your air staff a complete run-down on the targets, the flight plans, and the defensive systems of the planes... Yes! I mean i-i-i-if we're unable to recall the planes, then... I'd say that, ah... well, ah... we're just gonna have to help you destroy them, Dmitri... I know they're our boys... All right, well listen now. Who should we call?... Who should we call, Dmitri? The... wha-whe, the People... you, sorry, you faded away there... The People's Central Air Defense Headquarters... Where is that, Dmitri?... In Omsk... Right... Yes... Oh, you'll call them first, will you?... Uh-huh... Listen, do you happen to have the phone number on you, Dmitri?... Whe-ah, what? I see, just ask for Omsk information... Ah-ah-eh-uhm-hm... I'm sorry, too, Dmitri... I'm very sorry... All right, you're sorrier than I am, but I am as sorry as well... I am as sorry as you are, Dmitri! Don't say that you're more sorry than I am, because I'm capable of being just as sorry as you are... So we're both sorry, all right?... All right.

On the Good Doctor's plan:

General "Buck" Turgidson: Doctor, you mentioned the ratio of ten women to each man. Now, wouldn't that necessitate the abandonment of the so-called monogamous sexual relationship, I mean, as far as men were concerned?
Dr. Strangelove: Regrettably, yes. But it is, you know, a sacrifice required for the future of the human race. I hasten to add that since each man will be required to do prodigious... service along these lines, the women will have to be selected for their sexual characteristics which will have to be of a highly stimulating nature.
Ambassador de Sadesky: I must confess, you have an astonishingly good idea there, Doctor.

"Mr. President, we cannot allow a mineshaft gap."

*Update: via Wikipedia, a Strangelove continuity script.

"Die Welt According to Herr Doktor Merkwürdichliebe"
Posted by Dan at 03:46 PM


Referenced in this post:

Chicago Sun-Times: Dr. Strangelove (Restored Version)—Roger Ebert
Chicago Tribune: New print enhances 'Strangelove's' bite—Michael Wilmington
Houston Chronicle: Putin's nuclear plans signal new arms race—Eric Rosenberg
IMDb: Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
IMDb: Memorable Quotes from Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
Music Box Theatre
Sci-Fi Scripts: Dr. Strangelove: or, How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb—shooting draft
SignOnSanDiego.com: Bob Jones to Bush: Re-election offers reprieve from paganism (AP)
Strangelove, Inc.: The Alternate Piefight Ending
The Kubrick Site: The Strangelove Continuity Script
Union of Concerned Scientists: The Troubling Science of Bunker-Busting Nuclear Weapons
Wikipedia: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Zaman: Russia and West Face off in Ukraine—Mirza Cetinkaya