Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
Dr. Strangelove originated from the midst of the cold war, portraying the post-WWII Red Scare phenomenon in western countries in general and the United States in particular, in which largely unaccounted paranoia of nuclear world war and exaggerated political agendas were the central themes. The genius of Stanley Kubrick's wildly comedic but fundamentally serious satire is that he knew all too well that many contemporary viewers would see it mainly as an explicit alarm-clock on the dangers of communism and the Soviet Union, whereas today, the only educational reading will be the dangers of scare tactics and rearmament.
Kubrick's subtlety and courage lead the way for this riotously funny and thoroughly fascinating picture. Its relevance has only increased over the years as an important document of both film history and world history. Dr. Strangelove is the frankest of films, but yet in the end feels to have gotten away with something unruly and dangerous - a comment which was so manifested that it might have seemed too hard to take in.
In retrospect, the performances seem almost secondary, but it is the delicately composed artistry of Peter Sellers and the perfectly over-the-top performance from George C. Scott which gives the film such aggression and hilarious ambiguity. The words and actions of these characters seem to make them one-dimensional, but they are only so in the scope of the world presented, which is a delightful point to make. As Kubrick's puppeteers they alternate between giving life to the effectively menacing nature of the plot while seasoning the film with an absurdity which Kubrick claims reflects the entire situation he portrays. When it comes to form, this is about as perfect as the film medium gets.