Impact of the Film, Dr. Strangelove, on American Attitudes Towards the Atomic Bomb and Cold War

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Impact of the Film, Dr. Strangelove, on American Attitudes Towards the Atomic Bomb and Cold War

"The truth is bad enough--but nowhere near as bad as you probably think. The truth will do away with a lot of silly ideas, a lot of completely wrong notions, which millions of people now believe about the atomic bomb. These ideas could easily cause great panic. And right now the possibility of panic is one of the best weapons any enemy could use against us." (Gerstell, How to Survive an Atomic Bomb 1)

"Why should the bomb be approached with reverence? Reverence can be a paralyzing state of mind. For me the comic sense is the most eminently human reaction to the mysteries and the paradoxes of life. I just hope some of them are illuminated
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Dr. Strangelove opened in January 1964, denouncing the nuclear arms race and its players only a few months after American President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev signed a treaty banning the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons (Time 2 Aug. 1963: 9). More importantly, these same two leaders had been on the verge of taking their countries to war only two years before in a showdown over Cuba, so the American people were well aware of how it felt to be on the edge of nuclear disaster. In October 1962 President Kennedy threatened Soviet Premier Khrushchev with war if Soviet missile bases on Cuba were not dismantled and shipments of arms bound for the island were not aborted. The country waited for one tense week for the nuclear bombing to begin--but it never happened. Khrushchev blinked and prevented the end of civilization (Hoberman 18-20). Dr. Strangelove did not. Rather, Dr. Strangelove created a nightmarish scenario of atomic annihilation in which the mad Strategic Air Force (SAC) general Jack D. Ripper seals off his base and orders his bombers to attack their Russian targets. He acts under the provisions of "Plan R," a contingency plan that authorizes lower-level military officers to launch a nuclear strike in the event that the President is unable to do so himself. The men who must deal with this rogue general and his threat to civilization are satirically

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