Seen it before? No.
Holy crap was this movie brilliant. It's a perfect satire of the paranoia of the Cold War. Sterling Hayden plays General Jack D. Ripper, who is so worried about his "precious bodily fluids" that he orders an unprovoked nuclear strike on the USSR. (Easy to laugh at now, but there were some people who really did think water flouridation was a Communist plot.) Through a series of accidents and ill-conceived fail-safes, the combined US and USSR governments find it impossible to stop him.
The performances are hilarious, particularly George C. Scott as General Turgidson. Peter Sellers plays three roles, but they're all totally different; it's not like when Eddie Murphy does it. Much of the dialogue involves the actors saying the most insane things possible with a totally straight face. In fact, Slim Pickens wasn't even told it was a comedy.
My favorite scenes:
- Gen. Turgidson tries to explain what's happening to the war room
- Slim Pickens riding the bomb, and waving a cowboy hat
- The President calls the Soviet premier, who is apparently drunk - we only hear the President's side of the conversation, and it's hilarious
- The whole "mine shaft" discussion
- Mandrake needs to talk to the president, but all the phones are down, except a pay phone; he has no change, so he has Col. Guano shoot the lock off of a Coke machine
Position on the list: 30
Making his film debut: James Earl Jones
I suppose this was inevitable: My wife fell asleep 20 minutes in. Wake up sleepyhead Patricia Nicole!