Hollywood Flashback: In 1964, 'Dr. Strangelove' Put a Satirical Spin on Nuclear War

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Slim Pickens on the set of 1964's 'Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.'

While watching Stanley Kubrick's black comedy on Oliver Stone's four-part documentary 'The Putin Interviews,' Russian president Vladimir Putin took it too seriously.

A brief description of Oliver Stone and Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin viewing Dr. Strangelove together: Putin watches stoically and says director Stanley Kubrick "foresaw some issues even from a technical point of view," while Stone thinks the film is hilarious and seems disappointed his new Russian buddy doesn't get the humor. (For the whole encounter, Stone's four-part documentary The Putin Interviews airs on Showtime beginning June 12.)

In 1964, The Hollywood Reporter's reaction to Kubrick's black comedy masterpiece, whose full name is Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, was much closer to Stone's. THR called Kubrick "a director of rare gifts" and said the film "will outrage a pre­dictable percentage of the population and will enthrall an even greater percentage."

Kubrick came to make a comedy about accidental nuclear war because he himself was absolutely terrified of it happening. "He was living in New York and was convinced it would be one of the first targets," says Vincent LoBrutto, who wrote Stanley Kubrick: A Biography. "At one point, he wanted to move his family to Australia." Sound familiar, Trump haters?

Strangelove received an Oscar nomination for best picture, but it lost to My Fair Lady, a musical from the other end of the Hollywood movie spectrum. 

This story first appeared in the June 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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