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Dr. Strangelove - Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (****)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Written by Peter George (novel) and Stanley Kubrick
Dr. Strangelove
Principal Cast
Peter Sellers -- Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake/President Merkin Muffley/Dr. Strangelove
George C. Scott -- General "Buck" Turgidson
Sterling Hayden -- General Jack D. Ripper
Keenan Wynn -- Colonel "Bat" Guano
Slim Pickens -- Major T. J. "King" Kong
Peter Bull (I) -- Ambassador de Sadesky
James Earl Jones -- Lieutenant Lothar Zogg
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

I'm a big fan of wide-screen movies, but the two DVDs reviewed in this issue prove that full-screen can be good and wide-screen bad.

When I found out that the DVD of this classic was not in wide-screen format, I turned it off and resolved not to watch it. But then I read the liner notes. It seems that one of Stanley Kubrick's last projects was to personally oversee the transfer to DVD of several of his films. The DVD of 2001 is wide-screen. Kubrick chose not to do Dr. Strangelove in wide-screen. I decided to give it a fair viewing.

Within minutes, I was lost in the film, and forgot all about the invisible wall between me and the action. Truly one of the greatest films of all time, this is a pristine version that is easy to get lost in. The transfer is so crisp that you can see every detail of the aircraft's instrument panel, every gesture of George C. Scott's over-the-top performance.

The highest praise I've heard for this film was in a review on A teen wrote that his parents had to force him to watch the film, because it was, you know, black and white. But he loved it. So, if you've been trying to educate your teen about black and white, this is the film that should do the trick. The same is true if you are a teen, and want to find out what black and white is all about. If I can learn better about wide-screen vs. full-screen, then Dr. Strangelove on DVD has something to teach all of us.

It says on the case that "Because this particular movie was originally photographed with MULTI-ASPECT RATIOS the proportions of the screen image will change periodically throughout the film." Sounds awful, like that early Ben-Hur on Beta that jumped to wide-screen for the chariot race or the Bridge on the River Kwai on VHS with wide-screen only in the opening minutes.

This DVD is nothing like that. If there are changes in the aspect ratio, I was totally unaware of them, which is the only way that changing aspect ratio could be called a success.

I recently watched Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus (***) on DVD and was disappointed, both because the DVD had bugs in it and because the film really loses momentum the minute Tony Curtis walks on screen. I have no inside information about Stanley Kubrick's sexual orientation, and don't want to know, but many of his films have a gay sensibility, and sometimes it gets in the way of the story. After the scene between Tony Curtis and Lawrence Olivier, Spartacus comes to a screeching halt. (Do keep watching, if only for the scene with Peter Ustinov and Charles Laughton, which is wonderful.)

But I seem to have gotten off the subject. Wide-screen doesn't help Spartacus. Full screen doesn't hurt Dr. Strangelove. I'm looking forward to Kubrick's DVD version of A Clockwork Orange.

The first three really good SF films were all by Kubrick. Don't get me wrong. I love Things to Come (****), Destination Moon (****), and Forbidden Planet (****), but there are parts of each that make me blush and shuffle my feet when I watch them. Dr. Strangelove, 2001, and A Clockwork Orange are first rate films by even the highest standards.

Battlestar Galactica (*)

Battlestar Galactica And then I watched, or tried to watch Battlestar Galactica, mainly because it was available in DVD wide-screen. Wide-screen doesn't help.

I watched every single one of the Battlestar Galactica episodes when they were originally on the air. I knew they were bad even then, but I watched them, and enjoyed the good bits. I still have my Dagget action figure. But, I'm older now, and my time is more valuable.

I like the ship models and the music, but as soon as the deeply stupid Glen A. Larson script had one of the spaceship pilots say "Lower the breaking flaps" I started to fast-forward, and soon found myself mercifully listening to the end credits music.

Copyright © 2000 by Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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