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12 July 2014
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Doctor Strangelove

Is the king of the Cold War a hot property?

Sinister strategist and nuclear weapons expert in the US President's War Room, with a black-gloved right hand that has a will of its own.

The vote has now ended.

Shane Rimmer

Why you should learn to love the man who made the bomb, by Shane Rimmer, who played Capt. G.A. 'Ace' Owens in the film, and voiced Scott Tracey in Thunderbirds.

It was often said about Stanley Kubrick that he was more interested in things than people, in places rather than personalities. But maybe an exception was made in the character casting of Doctor Strangelove. A more bizarre ensemble of military and political cuckoodom would be hard to imagine.

From a gung-ho USAAF Major to a Walter Mitty-like British Wing Commander to a deranged U.S. General with an obsession with bodily fluids. There was also a UN-ish type boardroom full of manic international delegates who should have been caged. And then right in the middle of all this centrifugal force they wheel in this ex-Nazi, spasm prone, megalomaniacal Space Scientist, Doctor Strangelove.

Kubrick hated the insanity of war and had a statement to make about that and the unhinged Doctor Strangelove was central to it. There had already been a lot of protest and anti war film footage around, much of it done in broad brush stroke earnestness. Kubrick wanted his film to be different - to unsettle the audience - make them laugh one minute and shudder the next through a mix of satire and death dealing seriousness.

Here was the world teetering on the brink of disaster and this film was making jokes about it - or were they?

Peter Sellers' brilliant caricature of Doctor Strangelove kept the question hanging. The audience still laughed - but the possible consequences of this man's growing influence were sounding a new and ominous note.

No longer was he a figure of derision - he prompted a rising feeling of unease - how really sure were the world's chances of survival if no sane resolution between East and est could be reached?

And how much had we just allowed all this to happen? It was time to ask some real questions. Doctor Strangelove had broken through the complacency barrier that had lulled the West for too long. People began to realize what was at stake and what they could try to do about it. It was wake up time in the West and the fearsome screen imagery of Doctor Strangelove has sounded the alarm!

Maybe he had something to do with all of us still being here. Who knows? On that premise alone, I think you should place Doctor Strangelove on the first rung of the Top Screen Scientist Vote - or at least get him a new wheelchair!

Shane Rimmer

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