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Written by Timothy Sexton
"Do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous Communist plot we have ever had to face?"
Gen. Jack D. Ripper is the unhinged military man who sets off the chain reaction that results in nuclear devastation that ends the film. This is an essential Dr. Strangelove quote for two reasons. One, it reflects an actual paranoid concern shared by millions at the time that fluoridation of municipal water supplies was part of some bizarre communist plot—many still subscribed to this conspiracy theory even today—and two: Gen. Ripper’s madness is the result of a convergence of his paranoia about communist plots and his own personal anxiety about those plots negatively impacting his sexual prowess.
“You're gonna have to answer to the Coca-Cola company.”
“Bat” Guano’s warning to the British Colonel Lionel Mandrake comes after the shooting of a Coke vending machine in a desperate effort by Mandrake to find change in order to make a phone call warning the White House about Gen. Ripper’s mad actions to start a nuclear war between Russia and America. The fact that Guano appears to have an overinflated fear of the consequences of defying the Coca-Cola Company is a subtle nod toward the overarching power of Military-Industrial Complex that Pres. Dwight Eisenhower warned about a few years before the film’s release.
"Mandrake, have you ever seen a Commie drink a glass of water?"
Essential to a full appreciation of the satire of Dr. Strangelove is an understanding that nuclear devastation results not from any political disagreement, but from the desperate attempt by a crazed member of the U.S. military to explain away the loss of his sexual power by any means necessary.
“Survival kit contents check. In them you'll find: one .45-caliber automatic, two boxes ammunition, four days' concentrated emergency rations, one drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine, vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills, one miniature combination Rooshin phrase book and Bible, one hundred dollars in rubles, one hundred dollars in gold, nine packs of chewing gum, one issue of prophylactics, three lipsticks, three pair of nylon stockings... Shoot, a fella could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff!”
This long quote is a description by the pilot of the B-52 bomber plane that fails to receive the code reversing the order to drop their payload of the contents of the survival kit given to members of the crew. This quote is most notable due to the fact that the original reading referenced having a great time in Dallas due to Major Kong hailing from Texas. Actor Slim Pickens was brought in to overdub that reading to change the site of having a great time from Dallas to Vegas as a result of the potential for offending some audiences by mentioning a "survival kit" for having a great time in Dallas a mere two months after the assassination of Pres. John Kennedy in that Texas city.
“You know when fluoridation began?...1946. 1946, Mandrake. How does that coincide with your post-war Commie conspiracy, huh? It's incredibly obvious, isn't it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual, and certainly without any choice. That's the way your hard-core Commie works. I first became aware of it, Mandrake, during the physical act of love...Yes, a profound sense of fatigue, a feeling of emptiness followed. Luckily I-I was able to interpret these feelings correctly. Loss of essence. I can assure you it has not recurred, Mandrake. Women, er, women sense my power, and they seek the life essence. I do not avoid women, Mandrake...but I do deny them my essence.”
Refer to the above analysis about flouridation, Gen. Ripper's obsession with communist conspiracies and his search for an explanation about his dwindling masculinity.
“The whole point of the doomsday machine is lost...if you keep it a secret! Why didn't you tell the world, eh?!”
When it becomes clear that something has happened aboard the B-52 piloted by Major Kong to make them either unable to receive the recall code or that they have determined unilaterally to ignore the recall command, the Soviets are forced to admit the existence of a doomsday machine which automatically goes off in the event of a successful nuclear attack upon their soil. The result of the doomsday machine is global annihilation.
“Mr. President, we must not allow a mineshaft gap!”
Upon learning of the doomsday machine’s existence, the President and his War Room staff begin making plans for how the survivors can continue living underground long enough to repopulate the planet. The phrase “mineshaft gap” is satiric commentary on the “missile gap” which was the term used to describe the difference between how many nuclear missiles the Soviets had at their disposal and how many the US had. The perception that having a greater number of nuclear missiles somehow translated into being more powerful threat was used to justify and propagandize the arms race between the two superpowers. The satire here was based on transforming the balance of power from the number of missiles each country had that each featured technological weaponry capable of destroying entire cities to the number of underground mines each country had capable of keeping survivors of those nuclear attacks alive.
“Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room.”
An example of the kind of irony that is the defining characteristic of the satire of Dr. Strangelove, this quote ranks number 64 on the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest movie quotes of the first 100 years of American cinema.
“Mein Führer! I can walk!”
The character Dr. Strangelove is a parody of all the Nazi scientists who were allowed to live in the United States following World War II without being charged with war crimes provided they contributed to the American defense system by assisting in the expansion of the nuclear arms program directed to the enemy that supplanted their old Nazi overlords following the victory of the Allies over the Axis. This is the final line of the movie and a particularly sharp bit of humor directed toward the hypocrisy of the American government to not only allow scientists like Strangelove to escape justice for their roles they played when they working for Hitler, but to provide them with special dispensations that even concentration camp survivors never enjoyed.
“I'll tell you what he did, he ordered his planes...to attack your country. Well, let me finish, Dmitri. Let me finish, Dmitri. Well, listen, how do you think I feel about it? Can you imagine how I feel about it, Dmitri? Why do you think I'm calling you? Just to say hello?”
The conversation that takes place between the American President and his Soviet counterpart is one of the comedic highlights of the film. Pres. Muffley is unusually soft-spoken for a Chief Executive and his engagement to inform the Soviet Premier of the coming nuclear attack on his country is yet another high point in the film’s brilliant use of irony as a vehicle for its comedy.
“If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!”
Turgidson’s excited delivery of just how unlikely it is that the rogue B-52 bomber could possibly be stopped from carrying out its bombing mission is yet another example of the satire directed against the military mind that come from a point of irony. Even in the face of global devastation caused by the success of the American nuclear weapons program, General Turgidson cannot contain his pride.
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Dr. Strangelove Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Dr. Strangelove is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
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Dr. Strangelove literature essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of the movie Dr. Strangelove directed by Stanley Kubrick.