Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, commonly known asDr. Strangelove, is a 1964 black comedy film which satirizes the nuclear scare . It was directed, produced, and co-written by Stanley Kubrick , starring Peter Sellers and George C. Scott , and featuring Sterling Hayden , Keenan Wynn , and Slim Pickens . The film is loosely based on Peter George 's Cold War thriller novelRed Alert, also known asTwo Hours to Doom.
The story concerns an unhinged United States Air Force general who orders a first strike nuclear attack on the Soviet Union . It follows the President of the United States , his advisors, the Joint Chiefs of Staff , and a Royal Air Force (RAF) officer as they try to recall the bombers to prevent a nuclear apocalypse . It separately follows the crew of one B-52 as they try to deliver their payload.
In 1989, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry . It was listed as number three on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs .
United States Air Force Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper ( Sterling Hayden ), commander of Burpelson Air Force Base, initiates a plan to attack the Soviet Union with nuclear weapons in the paranoid belief that there is a Communist conspiracy involving water fluoridation and contamination of everyone's "precious bodily fluids". Ripper orders his nuclear-armed B-52s , which were holding at their fail-safe points, to move into Soviet airspace. Group Captain Lionel Mandrake ( Peter Sellers ), a Royal Air Force exchange officer serving as General Ripper's executive officer , issues the command on Ripper's order but later realizes it was not issued in retaliation to a Soviet attack on America. However Ripper refuses to disclose the three-letter recall code and locks the two of them in his office.
In the "War Room" at The Pentagon , General Buck Turgidson ( George C. Scott ) briefs President Merkin Muffley (Sellers). He reports that Ripper apparently took advantage of "Wing Attack Plan R," a wartime contingency plan which is intended to give Field Commanders authority to retaliate with nuclear weapons in the event that a Soviet first strike obliterates Washington, D.C. and incapacitates U.S. leadership. When President Muffley angrily begins to question the merits of this, the General responds that he does not "think it's quite fair to condemn a whole program because of a single slip-up". When Muffley proposes that troops be sent to the Air Force Base to seize Ripper (and hopefully force the recall code from him), Turgidson warns that General Ripper will have put the security forces there on high alert—ready to repel any outside force.
Turgidson tries to persuade Muffley to seize the moment and eliminate the Soviet Union by launching a full-scale attack on the Soviet Union. The General believes the United States is in a superior strategic position and a first strike would destroy the majority of the Soviets' missiles before they could retaliate. Without such a response, the US would be annihilated. Muffley refuses to have any part of such a scheme, and instead summons the Soviet ambassador, Alexei de Sadeski ( Peter Bull ). The Ambassador calls Soviet Premier Dimitri Kisov on the " Hot Line " and gives the Soviets information to help them shoot down the American planes, should they cross into Soviet airspace.
The Ambassador reveals that his side has installed a doomsday device that will automatically destroy life on Earth if there is a nuclear attack against the Soviet Union. The American President expresses amazement that anyone would build such a device. But Dr. Strangelove (Sellers), a former Nazi and weapons expert, admits that it would be "an effective deterrent... credible and convincing." However, a recent study by an American think tank had dismissed it as being too dangerous to be practical.