The Oscar Project
A film that has more than five words
This is one I haven’t watched in probably 20 years but remember loving it when I first saw it in one of my high school history classes. Thinking back, I was initially a bit surprised we were even allowed to watch it in school until I re-watched it recently.
This is considered a classic film from the 1960s and one of director Stanley Kubrick’s best (along with 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining, and A Clockwork Orange) yet it’s one that I bet many people have never seen. It is a bit of an odd duck, and while some parts of it feel dated (discussions of fluoridation in the water, simple model planes superimposed over sped up background footage) there are many piece that feel just as relevant today as they were 56 years ago when it was released.
For those unfamiliar, the basic premise of the film is one of pending nuclear war, which moves from pending to reality when the base commander for the bombers armed with nuclear warheads goes rogue and orders those planes to attack Russia (aka the Soviet Union) without the proper authorization from the president. The commander locks down the base and cuts off all communication, including to the Pentagon so no one can countermand the orders he’s given.
The American president manages to contact the Russian Premier and assures him that they are doing everything possible to recall the planes before they can drop their bombs. The Russians manage to shoot down several planes and all the rest are turned back with the exception of one that has a damaged radio. That plane flies on and eventually drops a bomb on an alternate target with the pilot riding the bomb out of the bottom of the plane.
There are so many iconic parts of this film it’s hard to get them all down here. From the over-the-top acting of George C. Scott in the role of General Buck Turgidson to the multiple roles played by Peter Sellers, to the stark set used for the scenes in the bowels of the Pentagon, you could go on for days about this film. One of my favorite appearances here is that of James Earl Jones as the bombardier for one plane that doesn’t turn back.
If you haven’t seen this classic, I strongly recommend checking it out. It’s a quick watch at only about an hour and a half and feels like even less. It’s a great introduction to Kubrick’s work and much less esoteric than his science fiction follow-up 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Available on TCM.com.
Day 2 - A film you like that starts with the first letter of your name | Day 4 - A film with a number in the title
I'm just a film buff who wants to watch great movies. Where else to find the best, than the list of those nominated by the Academy each year?