Dr. Strangelove

Dr. Strangelove Quotes and Analysis

"Do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous Communist plot we have ever had to face?"

Gen. Jack D. Ripper

Gen. Jack D. Ripper is the unhinged military man who sets off the chain reaction that results in nuclear devastation. This theory about fluoridation reflects an actual paranoid concern shared by millions at the time—that fluoridation of municipal water supplies was some insidious communist plot. Additionally, the quote reveals that 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.”

Col. "Bat" Guano

“Bat” Guano’s warning to Captain Mandrake comes just before he shoots a Coca-Cola vending machine in order to help Madrake find change to make a phone call to the White House to give the President the recall code. 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 the Military-Industrial Complex that Presisdent Dwight Eisenhower warned about a few years before the film’s release.

"Mandrake, have you ever seen a Commie drink a glass of water?"

Gen. Jack D. Ripper

Essential to a full appreciation of the satire of Dr. Strangelove is an understanding that the 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. We are given a glimpse of his psychosis when he repeatedly refers to the fact that he only drinks "grain alcohol and rain water," and the quote above more fully explains why; he insists that communists are poisoning the water supply in order to weaken Americans, and that a communist would never drink water because they know of this plot.

“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!”

Major T.J. "King" Kong

This long quote is a description of the contents of the survival kit given to members of the crew. The inclusion of several items unnecessary to survival is a satirization of the military-industrial complex. This quote is also notable because the original reading was "...a good weekend in Dallas," due to Major Kong's characterization as a Texan. Actor Slim Pickens was brought in to overdub that reading to change the site from Dallas to Vegas, because the studio feared it would upset some audiences by mentioning a "survival kit" and "Dallas" a mere two months after the assassination of Pres. John Kennedy in that Texas city.

"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 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.”

Gen. Jack D. Ripper

This quote is important for revealing General Ripper's underlying motivation for his conspiracy theory—he struggled to find some way to blame a loss of sexual prowess on anything other than his age. This draws out a clear thematic link between sex, ideology, and warfare, that runs throughout the film.

“The whole point of the doomsday machine is lost...if you keep it a secret! Why didn't you tell the world, eh?!”

Dr. Strangelove

When Ambassador de Sadesky reveals the existence of an armed Doomsday Machine, Dr. Strangelove, the title character, appears to explain the concept and how it would work. His explanation reveals the absurdity of the concept of mutually assured destruction, a major point of the film, and the stupidity of the secretive policies on both sides of the Cold War. The Doomsday Machine cannot be used as a deterrent—the only reason for its existence—if no one knows that it exists.

“Mr. President, we must not allow a mineshaft gap!”

General "Buck" Turgidson

Upon learning of the lone plane advancing toward its target, and the likely detonation of the Doomsday Machine, 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 a 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 catastrophic missiles each country had to the number of underground mines, capable of keeping survivors of those nuclear attacks alive, each country had.

“Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room.”

Pres. Merkin Muffley

An example of the kind of irony that defines Dr. Strangelove particular brand of satire, 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. President Muffley delivers it with an entirely straight face and voice, not understanding the connection between "fighting" and the "War Room" that is apparent to the audience.

“Mein Führer! I can walk!”

Dr. Strangelove

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 provided they assisted in the expansion of the US nuclear arms program. This is the final line of the movie and a particularly sharp bit of humor directed toward the hypocrisy of the American government, not only to allow scientists like Strangelove to escape punishment for the roles they played when working for Hitler, but to provide them with special dispensations that even concentration camp survivors never enjoyed. The constant referring to President Muffley as "mein fuhrer" is an indication of the immoral abyss into which the US was falling in the film, particularly at the very end as they were planning the mine shaft system.

“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?”

Pres. Merkin Muffley

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 conversation with the Soviet Premier, to warn him of the coming nuclear attack on his country, is stilted and ridiculous because of the Premier's drunkenness and Muffley's desire to appease him and keep him calm.

“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!”

General Turgidson

Turgidson’s excited explanation of how the rogue B-52 bomber could make it past the Soviet Defenses is yet another example of the satire directed against the military mind. Even in the face of global devastation, General Turgidson cannot contain his pride and excitement at the concept of American military prowess overcoming the Soviets.