Study Guide

Dr. Strangelove Director

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Stanley Kubrick

"Visionary filmmaker" is what you most often hear people calling director Stanley Kubrick. When you see his list of films, which is packed with other classics like 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, and The Shining, you can totally see how he earned the title.

Like every other Kubrick movie, Dr. Strangelove bucks the norms of moviemaking. And like every other visionary, Kubrick had to constantly fight to bring his visions to reality. With Strangelove, many thought it was a crazy idea to make a comedy about a nuclear apocalypse, especially Kubrick's longtime producing partner James B. Harris. Luckily for the rest of us, Kubrick said whatevs to the naysayers and made it happen.

Of course, you can't make visionary films that break all the rules without ticking some people off. While nobody could argue with the fact that Kubrick was a genius, he was also famously demanding and sometimes ruthless in getting exactly what he wanted.

For example, when George C. Scott resisted playing Gen. Turgidson as big as Kubrick wanted, the director asked Scott to play certain takes as big as possible, but promised not to use them in the film. Guess which takes Kubrick used? Uh huh, and now the world is blessed with Scott's screwball performance, which Scott himself later said was one of his favorite film roles.

There are a million little stories about Kubrick's exacting artistic eccentricities. Like when he asked the set designer to totally revamp the War Room with very little time before shooting, just because Kubrick suddenly felt like it wasn't right. Even though a few weeks before he'd been totally in love with the design. Or how about the fact that he had the War Room table covered with green fabric to give the actors the feel that they were in the midst of a giant poker game? Before you say that doesn't sound too weird, remember the fact that film is in black and white. Was it really worth the money for a thing the audience would never see? To Kubrick it was. He was the genius in the room, and part of his genius was getting exactly what he wanted.

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