Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (commonly known as Dr. Strangelove) is a 1964 black comedy film directed by Stanley Kubrick, starring Peter Sellers and George C. Scott, and featuring Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn and Slim Pickens. Loosely based on Peter George's Cold War thriller novel Red Alert (aka Two Hours to Doom), Dr. Strangelove satirized the nuclear scare.
The story concerns an unhinged US Air Force general who orders a first strike nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, and 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, as well as the crew of one B-52 as they attempt 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.
USAF Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper, the 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 which will lead to contamination of everyone's "precious bodily fluids." Ripper orders his nuclear-armed B-52s which were holding at a fail-safe point as part of a special training exercise, to initiate "Wing Attack Plan R" and move into Soviet airspace. Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, an RAF exchange officer serving as General Ripper's executive officer issues the command on Ripper's order, but later realizes that it was issued inappropriately, not in retaliation for a Soviet attack on America. He resolves to recall the planes on his own authority, but Ripper refuses to disclose the three-letter code needed to get the bombers back to base and locks the two of them in his office.
In the "War Room" at The Pentagon, General Buck Turgidson briefs President Merkin Muffley. He reports that Ripper apparently took advantage of Emergency Attack Plan R, which is supposed to give Field Commanders authority to retaliate with nuclear weapons in the event that a Soviet first strike obliterates Washington, DC and decapitates U.S. leadership. When President Muffley scoffs at the idea that such an option was ever considered, he is reminded that he supported and endorsed the plan when it was first proposed. When President Muffley stated that General Turgidson had assured him that the "Human Reliability Program" would make it impossible that a Field Commander would exceed his authority in this manner, the General responds that he thought it was "unfair to condemn the whole program due to a single slip-up."
Turgidson tries to convince Muffley to seize the moment, and eliminate the Soviet Union by launching a full-scale attack on remaining Soviet defensive capabilities. Turgidson believes the U.S. is in a superior strategic position and a first strike would destroy the majority of the Soviets' missiles before they could retaliate significantly. Without such a response, the US would be annihilated by "Red Retalliation." Muffley rebukes him and summons the Soviet ambassador, Alexei De Sadesky, calls Soviet Premier Dmitri Kisov on the hotline, and gives the Soviets information to help them shoot down the American planes.
Over the phone, a drunken Kisov tells his ambassador that their country has deployed a doomsday device which will automatically destroy all life on Earth if there is a nuclear strike against any strategic targets in the Soviet Union. The president expresses amazement that anyone would build such a device. The President now calls upon Dr. Strangelove, a former Nazi and weapons expert. Strangelove uses a wheelchair, is apparently paralyzed, and has little control over his right arm (it occasionally extends into a nazi salute and/or attempts to strangle him). In moments of excitement he forgetfully addresses the President as "Mein Fuhrer".
Dr Strangelove explains the technology behind the Doomsday Device and why, once activated, it is essential that not only should it destroy the world in the event of a nuclear attack but also destroy the world if anyone attempts to deactivate the Device. He further points out that the "whole point of the Doomsday Device is lost if you keep it a secret. Why didn't you tell the world?" Ambassador De Sadesky says it was supposed to be announced the following week at the (Communist) Party Congress because, "the Premier loves surprises."
U.S. Army forces arrive at Burpelson to arrest General Ripper. Because Ripper has warned his men that the enemy might attack disguised as American soldiers, the base's security forces open fire on them. A pitched battle ensues, which the Army forces finally win, and Ripper, fearing torture to extract the recall code, shoots himself. Colonel "Bat" Guano shoots his way into Ripper's office and suspects that Mandrake, whose uniform he does not recognize, is leading a mutiny and arrests him. Mandrake convinces Guano that he has to call the President to tell him the recall code, POE, which he has deduced from Ripper's desk blotter doodles. When Mandrake attempts to use a pay phone (the regular base lines having been destroyed in the battle) the operator refuses to let him make a collect call, and he convinces Guano to destroy a Coca-Cola machine with his gun in order to extract the necessary quarters. Mandrake finally contacts the Pentagon and is able to get the code combinations to the President and Strategic Air Command.
The correct recall code is issued to the planes, and all those that have not been shot down by the Soviet military turn back toward base except one. Its radio and fuel tanks were damaged by an anti-aircraft missile, leaving the plane unable either to receive the recall message or reach its primary or secondary targets, where the Soviets have concentrated all available defences at the urging of President Muffley. Instead, the pilot heads for the nearest target of opportunity, an ICBM complex. Aircraft commander Major T. J. "King" Kong goes to the bomb bay to open the damaged doors manually, straddling a nuclear bomb as he repairs sparking wires overhead. When he effects his electrical patches, the bomb bay doors suddenly open, the bomb releases and Kong rides it to the ground like a rodeo cowboy, whooping and waving his cowboy hat.
The bomb detonates, triggering the doomsday machine. According to the Soviet ambassador, life on Earth's surface will be extinct in ten months. Dr. Strangelove recommends the President gather several hundred thousand people to be relocated into deep mine shafts, where the radioactivity would never penetrate, so the U.S. can be repopulated. Strangelove suggests a gender ratio of "ten females to each male," with the women selected for their stimulating sexual characteristics and the men selected for physical strength, intellectual capabilities, and importance in business and government. He points out that with proper breeding techniques, the survivors could work themselves up to the present Gross National Product, and emerge after the radioactivity has ceased in about 100 years. General Turgidson warns of a possible "Mineshaft Gap" which might be a factor when the survivors emerge. When Strangelove informs the President he has a plan, he miraculously gets up from his wheelchair, takes a couple of steps, and shouts, "Mein Führer! I can walk!" The film then cuts to views of multiple nuclear detonations, accompanied by Vera Lynn's haunting "We'll Meet Again."
 Main cast
* Peter Sellers as
o Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, a British exchange officer.
o President Merkin Muffley, the American Commander-in-Chief
o Dr. Strangelove, the wheelchair-bound nuclear war expert and former Nazi past whose uncontrollable hand that apparently has a Nazi mind of its own.
He is a pastiche of German scientists such as Wernher von Braun, nuclear strategists such as Herman Kahn and particularly Edward Teller, father of the hydrogen bomb, Guenter Wendt and perhaps even Manhattan Project principal John von Neumann. 
* George C. Scott as General Buck Turgidson.
* Sterling Hayden as General Jack D. Ripper, who is paranoid and an ultra-patriot.
His name is a reference to Jack the Ripper.
* Slim Pickens as Major T.J. "King" Kong, the B-52 Stratofortress bomber's commander and pilot.
His name is a reference to the character 'T.J.' in the popular children's TV show Tom Corbett, Space Cadet  and obviously King Kong.
* James Earl Jones as Lieutenant Lothar Zogg, the B-52's bombardier.
* Keenan Wynn as Colonel "Bat" Guano, the Army officer who finds Mandrake and the dead Ripper.
* Peter Bull as Soviet ambassador Alexei de Sadesky.
* Shane Rimmer as Capt. "Ace" Owens, the B-52 co-pilot. Another Tom Corbett, Space Cadet character's name)
* Tracy Reed as Miss Scott, General Turgidson's secretary and mistress, the film's only female character. Reed also appears as "Miss Foreign Affairs", the centerfold in the June 1962 issue of Playboy magazine that Major Kong is shown reading in the cockpit.
 Peter Sellers's multiple roles
Columbia Pictures agreed to finance the film on condition that Peter Sellers play at least four major roles. This condition stemmed from the studio's impression that much of the success of Lolita (1962), Kubrick's previous film, was based on Sellers's performance in which his single character assumes a number of identities. Sellers had also played three roles in 1959's The Mouse That Roared. Kubrick accepted the demand, considering that "such crass and grotesque stipulations are the sine qua non of the motion-picture business."
Sellers ended up playing just three of the four roles written for him. He was expected to play Air Force Major T. J. "King" Kong, the B-52 Stratofortress aircraft commander, but from the beginning Sellers was reluctant. He felt his workload was too heavy and he worried he would not properly portray the character's Texas accent. Kubrick pleaded with him and asked screenwriter Terry Southern (who had been raised in Texas) to record a tape with Kong's lines spoken in the correct accent. Using Southern's tape, Sellers managed to get the accent right, and started shooting the scenes in the airplane. But Sellers sprained an ankle and could not work in the cramped cockpit set.
Sellers is said to have improvised much of his dialogue, with Kubrick incorporating the ad-libs into the written screenplay so that the improvised lines became part of the canonical screenplay, a technique known as retroscripting.
Group Captain Lionel Mandrake
According to film critic Alexander Walker, the author of biographies of both Sellers and Kubrick, the role of Lionel Mandrake was the easiest of the three for Sellers to play, as he was aided by his experience of mimicking his superiors while serving in the RAF during World War II. There is also a heavy resemblance to Sellers's friend and occasional co-star Terry-Thomas and the prosthetic-limbed RAF ace Douglas Bader.
President Merkin Muffley
For his performance as President Merkin Muffley, Sellers flattened his natural English accent to resemble an American Midwesterner. Sellers drew inspiration for the role from Adlai Stevenson, a former Illinois governor who was the Democratic candidate for the 1952 and 1956 presidential elections and the U.N. ambassador during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
In early takes, Sellers faked cold symptoms to emphasize the character's apparent weakness. This caused frequent laughter among the film crew, ruining several takes. Kubrick ultimately found this comic portrayal inappropriate, feeling that Muffley should be a serious character. In later takes Sellers played the role straight, though the president's cold is still evident in several scenes.
The title character, Dr. Strangelove, who was not in the original book, serves as President Muffley's scientific advisor in the War Room, presumably making use of prior expertise as a Nazi physicist. When General Turgidson says to Mr. Staines (Jack Creley) that "Strangelove" is a very bizarre name, Staines responds that Strangelove's original German surname was "Merkwürdigliebe," without mentioning that "Merkwürdigliebe" translates to "Strangelove" in English. Twice in the film, Strangelove accidentally addresses the President as "Mein Führer."`
The character is an amalgamation of RAND Corporation strategist Herman Kahn, mathematician and Manhattan Project principal John von Neumann, German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun and Edward Teller, the "father of the hydrogen bomb." Strangelove's accent was influenced by that of Austrian-American photographer Weegee, who worked for Kubrick as a special photographic effects consultant. Strangelove's appearance echoes the mad scientist archetype as seen in the character Rotwang in Fritz Lang's 1927 film Metropolis. Sellers's Strangelove takes from Rotwang the single black gloved hand (which in Rotwang's case is mechanical due to a lab accident), the wild hair and, most importantly, his inability to be completely controlled by political power. According to film critic Alexander Walker, Sellers improvised Dr. Strangelove's lapse into the Nazi salute, borrowing one of Kubrick's black leather gloves for the uncontrollable hand that makes the gesture. Dr. Strangelove apparently suffers from diagonistic apraxia, or alien hand syndrome. Kubrick wore the gloves on the set to avoid being burned when handling hot lights, and Sellers, recognizing the potential connection to Lang's work, found them to be menacing.
 Slim Pickens as Major T. J. "King" Kong
Slim Pickens, an established character actor and veteran of many Western films, was eventually chosen to replace Sellers as Major Kong after Sellers's injury. Terry Southern's biographer, Lee Hill, said the part was originally written with John Wayne in mind, and that Wayne was offered the role after Sellers was injured but he immediately turned it down. Dan Blocker of the Bonanza western TV series was approached to play the part, but according to Southern, Blocker's agent rejected the script as being "too pinko." Kubrick then recruited Pickens, whom he knew from working on Marlon Brando's One-Eyed Jacks.
Fellow actor James Earl Jones recalls, "He was Major Kong on and off the set—he didn't change a thing—his temperament, his language, his behavior." Pickens was not told that the movie was a comedy and was only given the script for scenes he was in, to get him to play it "straight."
Kubrick biographer John Baxter explained the documentary Inside the Making of Dr. Strangelove:
As it turns out, Slim Pickens had never left the United States. He had to hurry and get his first passport. He arrived on the set, and somebody said, "Gosh, he's arrived in costume!", not realizing that that's how he always dressed... with the cowboy hat and the fringed jacket and the cowboy boots—and that he wasn't putting on the character—that's the way he talked.
Pickens, who had previously played only minor supporting and character roles, said his appearance as Maj. Kong greatly improved his career. He later commented, "After Dr. Strangelove the roles, the dressing rooms and the checks all started getting bigger".
 George C. Scott as Gen. Buck Turgidson
Kubrick tricked Scott into playing the role of Gen. Turgidson far more ridiculously than Scott was comfortable doing. Kubrick talked Scott into doing "over the top" practice takes, which Kubrick told Scott would never be used, as a way to warm up for the "real" takes. Kubrick used these takes in the final film, causing Scott to swear never to work with Kubrick again.
During the filming, Kubrick and Scott had different opinions regarding certain scenes, but Kubrick got Scott to conform largely by repeatedly beating Scott at chess, which they played frequently on the set. Scott, a skilled player himself, later said that while he and Kubrick may not have always seen eye to eye, he respected Kubrick immensely for his skill at chess.
The character is said to be loosely based on Air Force General Curtis LeMay.
Novel and screenplay
Kubrick started with nothing but a vague idea to make a thriller about a nuclear accident, building on the widespread Cold War fear for survival. While doing research, Kubrick gradually became aware of the subtle and unstable "balance of terror" between nuclear powers. At Kubrick's request, Alistair Buchan (the head of the Institute for Strategic Studies), recommended the thriller novel Red Alert by Peter George. Kubrick was impressed with the book, which had also been praised by game theorist and future Nobel Prize in Economics winner Thomas Schelling in an article written for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and reprinted in The Observer, and immediately bought the film rights.
In collaboration with George, Kubrick started writing a screenplay based on the book. While writing the screenplay, they benefited from some brief consultations with Schelling and, later, Herman Kahn. In following the tone of the book, Stanley Kubrick originally intended to film the story as a serious drama. But, as he later explained during interviews, he began to see comedy inherent in the idea of mutual assured destruction as he wrote the first draft. Kubrick said:
My idea of doing it as a nightmare comedy came in the early weeks of working on the screenplay. I found that in trying to put meat on the bones and to imagine the scenes fully, one had to keep leaving out of it things which were either absurd or paradoxical, in order to keep it from being funny; and these things seemed to be close to the heart of the scenes in question.
After deciding to make the film a black comedy, Kubrick brought in Terry Southern as a co-writer. The choice was influenced by reading Southern's comic novel The Magic Christian, which Kubrick had received as a gift from Peter Sellers (which, coincidentally, became a Sellers film in 1969). Sellers is also sometimes considered an uncredited co-writer, as he improvised many lines later added to the script.
 Sets and filming
Dr. Strangelove was filmed at Shepperton Studios, in London, as Peter Sellers was in the middle of a divorce at the time, unable to leave England. The sets occupied three main sound stages: the Pentagon War Room, the B-52 Stratofortress bomber and the last one containing both the motel room and General Ripper's office and outside corridor. The studio's buildings were also used as the Air Force base exterior. The film's set design was done by Ken Adam, the production designer of several James Bond films (at the time he had already worked on Dr. No). The black and white cinematography was by Gilbert Taylor, and the film was edited by Anthony Harvey and Stanley Kubrick (uncredited). The original musical score for the film was composed by Laurie Johnson and the special effects were by Wally Veevers.
For the War Room, Ken Adam first designed a two level set which Kubrick initially liked, only to decide later that it was not what he wanted. Adam next began work on the design that was used in the film, an expressionist set that was compared with The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Fritz Lang's Metropolis. It was an enormous concrete room (130 feet long and 100 feet (30 m) wide, with a 35-foot (11 m) high ceiling) suggesting a bomb shelter, with a triangular shape (based on Kubrick's idea that this particular shape would prove the most resistant against an explosion). One side of the room was covered with gigantic strategic maps reflecting in a shiny black floor inspired by the dance scenes in old Fred Astaire films. In the middle of the room there was a large circular table lit from above by a circle of lamps, suggesting a poker table. Kubrick insisted that the table be covered with green baize (although this could not be seen in the black and white film) to reinforce the actors' impression that they are playing 'a game of poker for the fate of the world.' Kubrick asked Adam to build the set ceiling in concrete to force the director of photography to use only the on-set lights from the circle of lamps. Moreover, each lamp in the circle of lights was carefully placed and tested until Kubrick was happy with the result.
Lacking cooperation from The Pentagon in the making of the film, the set designers reconstructed the cockpit to the best of their ability by comparing the cockpit of a B-29 Superfortress and a single photograph of the cockpit of a B-52, and relating this to the geometry of the B-52's fuselage. The B-52 was state-of-the-art in the 1960s, and its cockpit was off-limits to the film crew. When some United States Air Force personnel were invited to view the reconstructed B-52 cockpit, they said that "it was absolutely correct, even to the little black box which was the CRM." It was so accurate that Kubrick was concerned whether Ken Adam's production design team had done all of their research legally, fearing a possible investigation by the FBI.
In several shots of the B-52 flying over the polar ice en route to Russia, the shadow of the actual camera plane, a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, is visible on the snow below. The B-52 was a Monogram 1:72 scale model composited into the arctic footage which was sped up to create a sense of jet speed. Home movie footage included in Inside the Making of Dr. Strangelove on the 2001 Special Edition DVD release of the film show clips of the Fortress with a cursive "Dr. Strangelove" painted over the rear entry hatch on the right side of the fuselage.
Red Alert author Peter George collaborated on the screenplay with Kubrick and satirist Terry Southern. Red Alert was more solemn than its film version and it didn't include the character of Dr. Strangelove, though the main plot and technical elements were quite similar. A novelization of the actual film, rather than a re-print of the original novel, was published by George, based on an early draft where the film was meant to be bookended by aliens trying to understand what happened after arriving at a wrecked Earth.
During the filming of Dr. Strangelove, Stanley Kubrick learned that Fail-Safe, a film with a similar theme, was being produced. Although Fail-Safe was to be an ultra-realistic thriller, Kubrick feared that its plot resemblance would damage his film's box office potential, especially if it were released first. Indeed, the novel Fail-Safe (on which the film of the same name is based) is so similar to Red Alert that Peter George sued on charges of plagiarism and settled out of court. What worried Kubrick most was that Fail-Safe boasted acclaimed director Sidney Lumet and first-rate dramatic actors Henry Fonda as the American President and Walter Matthau as the advisor to the Pentagon, Professor Groeteschele. Kubrick decided to throw a legal wrench into Fail-Safe's production gears. Lumet recalled in the documentary, Inside the Making of Dr. Strangelove: "We started casting. Fonda was already set... which of course meant a big commitment in terms of money. I was set, Walter [Bernstein, the screenwriter] was set... And suddenly, this lawsuit arrived, filed by Stanley Kubrick and Columbia Pictures."
Kubrick argued that Fail Safe's own 1960 source novel of the same name had been plagiarized from Peter George's Red Alert, to which Kubrick owned creative rights, and pointed out unmistakable similarities in intentions between the characters Groeteschele and Strangelove. The plan worked, and Fail-Safe opened eight months behind Dr. Strangelove, to critical acclaim but mediocre ticket sales.
The end of the film shows Dr. Strangelove exclaiming "Mein Führer, I can walk!" before cutting to footage of nuclear explosions, with Vera Lynn singing "We'll Meet Again." This footage comes from nuclear tests such as shot BAKER of Operation Crossroads at Bikini Atoll, the Trinity test, the bombing of Nagasaki, a test from Operation Sandstone and one of the massive hydrogen bomb tests from Operation Redwing. In some shots old warships (such as the German heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen), which were used as targets, are plainly visible. In others the smoke trails of rockets used to create a calibration backdrop can be seen. It was originally planned for the film to end with a scene that was filmed, with everyone in the war room involved in a pie fight.
Accounts vary as to why the pie fight was cut. In a 1969 interview, Kubrick said: "I decided it was farce and not consistent with the satiric tone of the rest of the film." Critic Alexander Walker observed that "the cream pies were flying around so thickly that people lost definition, and you couldn't really say whom you were looking at." Nile Southern, son of screenwriter Terry Southern, suggested the fight was intended to be less jovial. "Since they were laughing, it was unusable, because instead of having that totally black, which would have been amazing, like, this blizzard, which in a sense is metaphorical for all of the missiles that are coming, as well, you just have these guys having a good old time. So, as Kubrick later said, 'it was a disaster of Homeric proportions.'"
Peter Sellers, in a biographic documentary, was credited with suggesting the Vera Lynn music for the ending.
 The Kennedy assassination
A first test screening of the film was scheduled for November 22, 1963, the day of the John F. Kennedy assassination. The film was just weeks from its scheduled premiere, but because of the assassination the release was delayed until late January 1964, as it was felt that the public was in no mood for such a film any sooner.
One line by Slim Pickens – "a fella could have a pretty good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff" – was dubbed to change "Dallas" to "Vegas," Dallas being the city where Kennedy was killed. The original reference to Dallas survives in some foreign language-dubbed versions of the film, including the French release.
The assassination also serves as another possible reason why the pie-fight scene was cut. In the scene General Turgidson exclaims, "Gentlemen! Our gallant young president has been struck down in his prime!" after Muffley takes a pie in the face. Editor Anthony Harvey states that "[the scene] would have stayed, except that Columbia Pictures were horrified, and thought it would offend the president's family."
From the opening scene of a "boom and receptacle" aerial refueling between a USAF KC-135 Stratotanker and a B-52 Stratofortress (set to an instrumental version of Harry M. Woods's "Try a Little Tenderness") to General Ripper's sexual dysfunction being at the root of the eventual apocalypse, sexual references appear throughout the film.
The character of Dr. Strangelove is laced with innuendo, even aside from his suggestive name. He is the character responsible for creating fantasies of a polygamous post-apocalyptic society with a ratio of "ten females to each male,"
General Jack D. Ripper is named after Jack the Ripper, the infamous serial killer who murdered prostitutes in London in the late 1880s. General Ripper's primary concern about Communism is his assertion that water fluoridation is "a Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids," of which he was made aware when his "loss of essence" during "the physical act of love" fatigued him. Ripper's paranoia about water fluoridation is based on a conspiracy theory by the John Birch Society, which was prominent in conservative politics in the early 1960s. He continues to explain that women "seek the life essence" and then says, "I do not avoid women but... I do deny them my essence." Here "essence" is used as a synonym or euphemism for semen.
Many characters' names involve sexual wordplay. Group Captain Lionel Mandrake's last name refers to the Mandrake plant, which has mythical fertility properties. The Soviet Ambassador Alexei de Sadesky is named for the Marquis de Sade, and Premier Dmitri Kisov's last name is pronounced "Kissoff," a pun on "kiss off." Major "King" Kong rides a phallic-looking H-bomb, which explodes as he approaches the "target of opportunity," when they are unable to reach the primary target, Laputa (in Spanish: la puta means "the whore"), though the airborne island in Gulliver's Travels is also implied. President Merkin Muffley's first name, merkin, is a pubic wig, and his last name is a take on muff (a furry handwarmer, and also slang for pubic hair). The name of General Buck Turgid(s)on is derived from turgid, a biological term meaning full of fluid to the point of hardness, as in an erection, applied to "buck" as an explicit symbol of virility; in other words a military "hard-on." Colonel "Bat" Guano's name is a scatological (rather than sexual) play on words meaning bat feces which could echo the slang term bat-shit, meaning insanity.
The only female character in the film is General Turgidson's secretary (Tracy Reed) who appears in a sleek bedroom with twin beds and a sun lamp, wearing a bikini. Although she tells a caller they are working, there is a clear implication she and the general have a sexual relationship (in a later phone call, Turgidson tries to reassuringly say he will make her "Mrs Buck Turgidson"). Reed is also shown as the Playboy centerfold being looked at by Major Kong. In this photograph most of her bottom is hidden by the January 1963 issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, hence Tracy Reed was billed as "Miss Foreign Affairs."
 Satirizing the Cold War
Dr. Strangelove takes passing shots at numerous Cold War attitudes, such as the "missile gap," but it primarily focuses its satire on the theory of mutual assured destruction (MAD), in which each side is supposed to be deterred from a nuclear war by the prospect of a universal cataclysmic disaster regardless of who "won." Herman Kahn, in his 1960 On Thermonuclear War, used the theoretical example of a doomsday machine to illustrate the concept of mutual assured destruction (MAD); in effect, Kahn argued, both sides already had a sort of doomsday machine, since their nuclear arsenals were large enough to destroy most life on Earth. Kahn, a leading critic of American strategy during the 1950s, urged Americans to plan for a limited nuclear war, and later became one of the architects of the MAD doctrine in the 1960s. Kahn, as a physicist-turned strategist, reasoned that a nuclear war was inherently unwinnable (therefore, suicidal) and that suicide was illogical; thus, neither side would be willing to engage in all-out nuclear war. Kahn came off as cold and calculating; for instance, in his works, he estimated how many human lives the United States could lose and still rebuild economically. This attitude is reflected in Turgidson's remark to the president about the outcome of a pre-emptive nuclear war: "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops, uh, depending on the breaks." Turgidson also has a binder that is labelled "World Targets in Megadeaths."
The portrayals of Ripper and Turgidson are usually compared to the fiery personality of Air Force general Curtis LeMay and his direct subordinates in the Strategic Air Command.
The film has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. In 2000, readers of Total Film magazine voted it the 24th greatest comedy film of all time. It is one of the rare films to have received a 100 percent "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and it is ranked 15th top film of all time on TopTenReviews Movies. It is ranked number six in the All-Time High Scores chart of Metacritic's Video/DVD section with an average score of 96, and is currently ranked the 30th greatest film of all time at the Internet Movie Database.
Roger Ebert has Dr. Strangelove in his list of Great Movies, saying it is "arguably the best political satire of the century." It is also rated as the fifth greatest film – the highest rated comedy – in Sight & Sound’s directors’ poll.
The film was even a favorite of Strategic Air Command Nuclear Alert B-52 Stratofortress pilots before the stand-down of the alert forces.
 Awards and honors
The film was nominated for four Academy Awards and also seven BAFTA Awards, of which it won four.
Academy Awards nominations:
* Best Actor in a Leading Role: Peter Sellers
* Best Adapted Screenplay: Stanley Kubrick, Peter George, Terry Southern
* Best Director: Stanley Kubrick
* Best Picture
BAFTA Awards nominations:
* Best British Actor: Peter Sellers
* Best British Screenplay: Stanley Kubrick, Peter George, Terry Southern
* Best Foreign Actor: Sterling Hayden
BAFTA Awards won:
* Best British Art Direction (Black and White): Ken Adam
* Best British Film
* Best Film From Any Source
* UN award.
In addition, the film won the best written American comedy award from the Writers Guild of America and a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.
Kubrick himself won two awards for best director, from the New York Film Critics Circle and the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists, and was nominated for one by the Directors Guild of America.
American Film Institute recognition
* 1998 - AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies - #26
* 2000 - AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs - #3
* 2005 - AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes:
o "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here, this is the war room." #64
* 2007 - AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) - #39