Dr. Strangelove

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"Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!"
President Merkin Muffley

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb is a 1964 Black Comedy film by Stanley Kubrick. The plot is largely lifted from the 1958 novel Red Alert by Peter George.

One day, General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) goes mental. He orders the nuclear bombers under his command to carry out a surprise attack on the Soviet Union. He puts his entire military base in lock-down with all communications cut, ordering all radios confiscated (so that Communist infiltrators can't receive outside commands) and all troops to fire on anyone who tries to enter the base, even if they appear to be fellow Americans (because they will surely be Communists in disguise). Ripper's aide, British Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers), discovers one last unconfiscated radio - playing dance music. Realizing that civilian stations wouldn't be playing dance music while the country was under attack, Mandrake confronts General Ripper. Ripper explains that after he felt "a profound feeling of emptiness" following "the physical act of love" one night, he realized that the Communists were trying to contaminate America's "precious bodily fluids" by means of fluoridation and that a preemptive strike on the Soviet Union was necessary to force America to end the Communist threat once and for all.

In Washington, U.S. President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers again) holds a meeting in the War Room. The President's wheelchair-bound, ex-Nazi science adviser, Dr. Strangelove (also Peter Sellers), and the Soviet ambassador both confirm that an attack on the USSR will trigger The Doomsday Machine: a computer programmed to detonate a cobalt bomb that will kill nearly all life on Earth's surface with its radiation over the course of months, if the Soviet Union is attacked or if any attempt is made to disable the Doomsday Machine). The president gets on the hotline and desperately attempts to convince the drunken Soviet premier that the American attack is just a silly mistake as they attempt to call off the attack.

The film was supposed to be released in November 1963 (see Too Soon on the Trivia subpage), but was eventually released in January 1964.

Dr. Strangelove is the Trope Namer for:
Tropes used in Dr. Strangelove include:
  • Aluminium Christmas Trees / Truth in Television: Ripper's paranoia about water fluoridation.
  • Apocalypse How: "Obviously, you've never heard of Cobalt-Thorium G. When the bombs detonate, they'll create a radioactive cloud, that would circle the earth for a ninety-six years!"
  • Armed Farces
  • Ass in Ambassador: "Try one of these Jamaican cigars, Ambassador, they're pretty good." "No, I do not support the work of imperialist stooges." "Oh, only Commie stooges, huh?"
  • As You Know: The Premier loves surprises.
  • Attack Pattern Alpha: Delivered via Sealed Orders - Wing Attack Plan R, which is removed from a whole safe full of attack plans. This was Truth in Television.
  • Beneath the Earth: The future of mankind After the End is to dwell in underground facilities and fallout shelters for almost a century. That an Adam and Eve Plot and eternal vigilance by those who think that "a mine-shaft gap should not be allowed".
  • Better to Die Than Be Killed: Ripper's fate, although he mainly did it because he wasn't sure he could trust himself to not give up the code to call The Wing back if he was in fact given "a pretty good working over."
  • Black Comedy: Arguably cinema's greatest example of the form.
  • Bombers on the Screen: The primary purpose of The Big Board.
  • Cigar Chomper: Ripper.
  • Comically Missing the Point: After being informed of the badness of the Doomsday Machine, a world-ending device, Turgidson first reaction is : "Gee, I wish we had one of them doomsday machines!"
  • Conspiracy Theorist: General Jack D. Ripper.
  • Corpsing: If you look carefully, you can see Peter Bull (the Russian ambassador) shaking with barely controlled mirth and biting his own lip as Sellers fights with his Evil Hand.
  • Crazy Prepared: Ambassador DeSadesky accuses General Turgidson of trying to plant a spy camera on him, and is later shown with another spy camera. This means that either Turgidson always carries a spy camera in case of such an eventuality, or the Russian ambassador carried two spy cameras.
    • The survival kit carried by the crew of The Leper Colony arguably counts. There's a season's worth of MacGyver material in there.
  • Critical Research Failure: In-universe. DeSadesky explains that the Soviets built their machine because they feared a "Doomsday-gap" when they "discovered" that the Americans were building one. When the US President refutes that as a ludicrous fantasy, the ambassador replies: our source was the The New York Times.[please verify]
  • Cut Himself Shaving: Guano's ironically lampshades it against Mandrake when he is informed of Ripper's death.
  • Decapitated Army: "Plan R" is designed to subvert this contingency; if Washington leadership is incapacitated regional commanders have the authority to launch a counter-attack.
  • Deliberately Monochrome
  • The Determinator: Major Kong and the rest of the crew of The Leper Colony.
  • Dirty Communists: The Russian premier is presented as a lecherous Vodka Drunkenski by his own ambassador, and the ambassador does some spy shenanigans. On the other hand only Ripper and Turgidson loathe the Russians, most of the characters treat the Soviets with pragmatism or respect.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The opening scene, of a B-52 re-fueling in mid-air, set to an instrumental version of "Try A Little Tenderness" no less. Interestingly, it was taken from stock footage that Kubrick simply discovered and made one of cinema's most memorable opening scenes.
  • Doomsday Device

Gen. Turgidson: "Gee, I wish we had one of them doomsday machines!"
Strangelove: "We briefly investigated making a similar machine ourselves. Based on the findings of the report, my conclusion was that this idea was not a practical deterrent ... for reasons which at this moment must be all too obvious."

  • Double Vision
  • Do Unto Others Before They Do Unto Us: Ripper claims he's giving the US the best kind of head start he can.
  • Downer Ending: Probably one of the funniest.
  • Dressing as the Enemy. Ripper informs the personnel of the Air Force Base that "commie enemies" may pull this, and the defenders discuss it later when the forces sent by the US President are attacking them.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Riding a nuke all the way to the target, whooping and hollering like a cowboy all the way down is about as awesome as a death gets! It's one of the most memorable (and parodied) scenes in the film.
  • Either or Title
  • The End of the World as We Know It
  • Evil Hand: Dr. Strangelove has one, which seems to act on Strangelove's violent and Nazi subconscious. The portrayal was so influential that the real life condition "alien hand syndrome" is also known as "Dr. Strangelove Syndrome".
  • Exact Time to Failure: Averted in a daring bit of Shown Their Work.
  • Failsafe Failure: The Doomsday Machine is deliberately Fail Deadly. Otherwise it wouldn't be much of a Doomsday Machine, as Strangelove points out. Unfortunately it didn't occur to the Soviets to tell anyone about the device well after it became operational, rendering it a complete liability as Strangelove once again points out.
  • Fan Service: Precisely one female character appears in this movie. She is a secretary, heard in one scene and seen in a bikini in another. She is also a Playboy centerfold.
    • Specifically, Tracy Reed (the actress (and character?) who appears as General Turgidson's mistress) also posed for "Miss Foreign Affairs", the centerfold seen on board the B-52.
  • The Fantastic Trope of Wonderous Titles
  • A Father to His Men: When the base falls Ripper feels let down and remarks that the soldiers were like his children. It rings as true as anything else he says.
  • The Film of the Book: This was based on a novel by Peter George called Red Alert and was originally conceived as a straightforward drama. During the development of the script, Kubrick and company realized the potential for satire in the story and completely overhauled it. George subsequently wrote a Novelization of the finished film.
  • Fog of War: The Soviets are unable to detect the last B-52, The Leper Colony. The Americans urge them to concentrate the search around the assigned targets but the crew switches them for targets of opportunity and fly at low altitude to escape detection.
  • Forever War: Implied; the jingoist generals and advisers are planning After the End schemes to maintain the status-quo of the Cold War, prevent Soviet expansionism and a "mine-shaft gap". Reinforced by the We Will Meet Again final Apocalyptic Montage.
  • Freud Was Right: Invoked by the film itself. A central theme of the movie is the portrayal of sexual symbolism as more than symbolism; Kubrick paraphrases Clausewitz "war is the continuation of sex by other means" without much room for interpretation. The opening refueling scene of two bombers "coupling", Mandrake attempting "preversion" with a vending machine coin return slot, the not-even-veiled sexual references that drive the madness of General Ripper and the very meaningful names of the two warmongerings (him and Turgidson) who push against the peaceful one (Merkin Muffley). Near the end there is yet another Mood Dissonance when the characters are happily planning a post-nuclear scenario where the male to female ratio would land them with their own harems to repopulate the world.
  • Gallows Humor: Given that it was made against the real-life backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis, in which nuclear war was a genuine possibility, much of the film's humor would have qualified at the time.
  • General Ripper:
    • The Trope Namer, obviously.
    • General Turgidson has some elements too, since they are both based on the hardliner General Curtis Lemay. Turgidson is loyal but trigger-happy and contemptuous and loathes Muffley's mild approach. Ripper is calmly collected and Turgidson is over-the-top. Out of context and without some dialogue, Ripper would seem the sane one. Overall, Ripper's an insane conspiracy theorist bent on World War III, and Turgidson's letting his inner five-year old playing with army men out.
  • Genius Cripple: Doctor Strangelove.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Honed to an art form. Almost everything is a sexual reference of some kind if you look hard enough—Kong's target (Laputa), Buck Turgidson's name, Jack D. Ripper (the murderer Jack the Ripper mutilated women's sexual organs), Merkin Muffley (speaking of "country" matters), etc. etc. See Visual Innuendo below, also.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: A semi-straight example- General Ripper won't allow himself to ejaculate during sex (the fear of losing his 'essence' is the motivating factor for his insane behavior); on the other hand, General Turgidson has a normal relationship with his Sexy Secretary and is not much better.
  • Government Drug Enforcement: What General Ripper fears fluoridation has become.
  • Herr Doctor: Strangelove, of course. With elements of Morally-Ambiguous Doctorate.
  • Hiroshima as a Unit of Measure: "Each B-52 can deliver a nuclear bomb load of 50 megatons, equal to 16 times the total explosive force of all the bombs and shells used by all the armies in World War II".
  • Hitler Cam: Gen. Ripper.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • No fighting allowed in the War Room.
    • Also how General Turgidson deeply respects his lover as a person and wants to make her "Mrs. Buck Turgidson." before he reminds her to say her prayers.
    • SAC's motto "Peace Is Our Profession" is offhandedly highlighted by the camera angle several times; when Ripper explains how he's "preventing" World War III with his first-strike and later when the soldiers are fighting for the base.
  • If You Know What I Mean: "Premier Kissov is a man of the people but he is also a man, if you know what I mean."
  • Insane Troll Logic: What led Ripper to first suspect the Communists of trying to "sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids" through fluoridation. "A profound sense of fatigue, a feeling of emptiness followed" sex = loss of 'essence'! Fluoridation starts in 1946 = part of postwar commie conspiracy! It all makes sense!
  • Irrevocable Order: The entire plot, as the general puts the base on lock-down.
  • It Got Worse: Anything that could go wrong in the prevention of the end of the world, does.
  • Kubrick Stare: General Ripper.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Subverted: It was impossible to launch a wing of B-52s on an irrevocable mission, and the movie acknowledges this, not to show their work but to calm potential hysterical moviegoers down.
  • Large Ham: George C. Scott originally gave a subtle portrayal of Colonel Turgidson. At the end of each scene Kubrick would tell him to do one take over the top to help entertain the crew. Almost the entire performance that made it into the film was made of these takes. It works. It works so hard. Notably, Scott was very upset at which takes were used, as he had been assured that his 'serious' takes would be ones used.
  • Lawful Stupid: "You're gonna have to answer to the Coca-Cola Company."
  • Leitmotif: 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home' plays whenever Major Kong's B-52 appears. It could, knowing Kubrick, also be a musical Double Entendre on the much, much darker 'Johnny I hardly knew ya'.
    • Note that it's the same tune for "The Ants Go Marching One By One". For whatever you'll make of that.
  • Loads and Loads of Roles: Peter Sellers plays three roles. He was originally slated to play Major Kong, but broke his ankle during filming and the part was recast. Sellers also had trouble with the accent.
  • Long Title
  • Madness Mantra: "Purity Of Essence", for General Ripper.
  • Mad Scientist: The titular doctor is a Shout-Out to Rotwang from Metropolis and classical StockCharacters.
  • Malaproper : Bat Guano keeps on saying "preversion".
  • Meaningful Name: Just about every name in the film has some sort of suggestive connotation regarding sexuality, playing on the film's theme that war is fueled by masculine sexual urges.
    • General Turgidson is a horn-dog whose name refers to a "turgid" erection.
    • Group Captain Mandrake is a voice of reason, and his name refers to a fertility herb.
    • General Ripper is motivated by sexual frustration (he's afraid of losing his "essence" through ejaculation) to spread destruction and is named for the misogynistic killer.
    • And President Merkin Muffley is a pussy.
    • Colonel "Bat" Guano is "batshit" insane. His Meaningful Name is lampshaded by Mandrake, who asks him if his name is real.
    • The target for the bomber is Laputa. La puta is Spanish for "the whore". Doubles as a Shout-Out to Gulliver's Travels.
    • The Russian ambassador's name DeSadesky refers to the outrageous Marquis de Sade, trope namer of the sexual tendency.
    • Premier Kissov, piss off.
  • Military Alphabet: Most famously "Wing Attack Plan R for Romeo." Also used by the bomber crew. Major Kong's accent could be a shining example of why a phonetic alphabet is useful.
    • General Ripper uses "R for Robert" when speaking to Mandrake on the phone. The Royal Air Force commonly used a different phonetic alphabet (including R for Robert) until adopting the NATO standard in the late 1950s—shortly before the events of the film. Since Grp Cpt Mandrake is a former RAF fighter pilot, Ripper may use it for Mandrake's convenience. Or maybe it's only an oversight filmed before someone could Do The Research.
  • Milkman Conspiracy: General Ripper tries to start nuclear war with the Russians over one such conspiracy. While tampering with our water supply would be a good way to deal a lethal blow to major population centers in the United States, Ripper comes to the conclusion that the Russians are doing this because when he tried having sex his "essence" was denied exit from his body. If he had seen people dying or getting sick from drinking water then there would be some validity to Ripper's claim, but as it stands The General brought on nuclear war with Russia just because he couldn't get it up.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: General Turdgidson enthusiastically reports an unofficial analysis for the contingency summarizing that the United States would suffer reduced megadeaths (20M vs 150M) if they capitalize on the situation and commit to a full attack.
  • Mood Dissonance: It's hard not to root for the crew of The Leper Colony, even with the knowledge that when they succeed, they've doomed the world.
  • Mr. Exposition: General Turgidson and Doctor Strangelove are advisers and explain most of the strategical and technical details to the President, and to the audience by extension.
  • Mutually Assured Destruction: Turgidson thinks it can be averted with a preemptive strike since the United States has a five-to-one missile superiority. Enforced once the Doomsday Machine comes into play as an involuntary Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Non fantasy example, when Turgidson learns Strangelove changed his name (Merkwurdichliebe) he comments "a Kraut by any other name".
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • President Muffley has some similarities to Adlai Stevenson. Gens. Ripper and Turgidson could both be seen as caricaturing different aspects of real-life USAF General Curtis LeMay. And Strangelove himself has aspects of several real-life nuclear scientists, but his Nazi past specifically evokes Werner von Braun.
    • Other scientists upon whom the Strangelove character was based were Herman Kahn, Edward Teller and John von Neumann. Contrary to popular belief, Strangelove was not based on Henry Kissinger, who at the time was not well known outside of academic circles.
    • Arthur C. Clarke, who knew both Stanley Kubrick and Werner von Braun, reported that Kubrick once asked him to "tell Werner I wasn't getting at him". Clarke adds, "I never did because, firstly, I didn't believe him, and secondly, even if Stanley wasn't, Peter Sellers certainly was."
  • Noodle Implements: The survival kit - which was based entirely on real survival kits of the second world war.
  • Not So Different: The Americans and Soviets: it's not at all clear which side is meant to be the good guys, they both indulge in highly morally questionable behavior (The Soviets build a Doomsday Device which is bad enough, only to compound things by not telling the Americans about it, while the American Plan R is simply a manual Doomsday Device that's also designed to fail deadly, and they're using an obvious Nazi as a science adviser). Each side is just as scheming or conniving or manipulative as the other, constantly harping on about various "gaps" (missile, doomsday, mineshaft, etc), and even after causing The End of the World as We Know It they just can't take a step back, look at themselves and wonder how much of this is their own fault.
  • No, You Hang Up First: The first conversation between the American and Russian presidents is modeled this way. It overlaps with Casual Danger Dialogue and projects a ridicule image of Muffley.
  • A Nuclear Error
  • Oh Crap:
    • Explain, Explain, Oh Crap : Under normal circumstances, a commander would be proud of his own units getting to its target against all odds. However a successful bomb by the unrecalled lone plane would trigger the Doomsday Device, dooming planet Earth. Gen. Turgidson misses this point for a while, gushing on about the toughness and skill of the surviving B-52 bomber and its crew. Finally, Pres. Muffley cuts in and asks directly: (on reaching the target and dropping a bomb, even through the entire Soviet air defense grid) "Has he got a chance?" Turgidson: "Has he got a chance? HELL YE...ohhh..." Turgidson's realization face is priceless.
    • Also when Mandrake realizes what's happened.

Mandrake: "Well, I'm afraid I'm still not with you, sir, because, I mean, if a Russian attack was not in progress, then your use of Plan R - in fact, your order to the entire wing... Beat] Oh. I would say, sir, that there were something dreadfully wrong somewhere."

  • The One Thing I Don't Hate About You:
    • Mandrake laments his treatment in a Japanese POW camp, but admits that the Japanese do make bloody good cameras.
    • Downplayed by Turgidson, he despises the Russians but tries to balance the scolding with a fair compliment.

Turgidson: The Russki talks big, but frankly, we think he's short of know-how. You can't expect ignorant peons to understand a machine like our boys. And that's not meant as an insult. We all know how much guts the average Russki's got. Look at all of them the Nazis killed off, they still wouldn't quit!

  • Only Sane Man: Mandrake, at the base; Muffley, in the War Room; and most ironically the bomber crew (save, perhaps, for Kong).
    • Arguably Strangelove himself. Despite the Dead Hand Syndrome, there's a brief scene with the president demanding to know who would create a doomsday device; the camera lingers on Strangelove, calmly smoking in the shadow, the president off-screen. A few minutes from later, Strangelove casually suggests the mine shaft survival plan, a new system of government, including who lives and who dies. For all intents and purposes, he takes over the US government right then and there, in front of its actual leaders, who are oblivious. Nobody said the Only Sane Man has to be a good person.
    • Actually, while he looks and speaks like a Looney Tunes character, everything he says is coldly rational. See his Doomsday Device analysis quoted above.
  • Operation Blank: Turgidson tells the President that the bombers in Ripper's wing were airborne "as part of a special exercise we were holding called Operation Drop-Kick".
  • Orchestral Bombing: And what a bombing.
  • Parody Names: The BLAND Corporation. A parody of the Real Life RAND Corporation.
  • The Password Is Always Swordfish: Mandrake is able to guess the Override Command because Ripper's madness had it spelled all over the place.
  • Peter Sellers: In three roles. He was originally going to play Major "King" Kong as well, however a broken leg prevented him from getting into and out of the B-52 set, so Slim Pickens was added to the cast.
  • Pointless Doomsday Device: The Soviets activated the Doomsday Machine before they told anyone about it, eliminating the whole point of its role as a deterrent from nuclear war. Dr. Strangelove points this out, and the Soviet ambassador counters that they were saving its announcement for a special occasion (see As You Know above).
  • Poor Communication Kills: Mandrake has problems reaching the president to recall the bombers, he finds a Pay Phone but has not enough pocket change and a brief issue with British vs American terms. Finally one of the bombers cannot be recalled via the Override Command because its communication system has been destroyed. Armageddon ensues. And of course the Soviets didn't tell the world about their Doomsday Device because their premier "loves surprises".
  • Punny Name
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Averted with a vengeance. It's especially noticeable in President Merkin's phone call to the Soviet premier.
  • Red Right Hand
  • Refuge in Audacity: Remember, this movie was made at the near-height of the Cold War, when the fear of nuclear apocalypse was cruelly plausible—and it's Played for Laughs.
  • Riding the Bomb: The Ur Example of this.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have a Nuke: The point of the Doomsday Machine. Not that it does the Soviets any good in the long run.
  • Secondary Character Title: The good doctor is a memorable character, to be sure, but, definitely not the main one.
  • Sensor Suspense: When the missiles are approaching the nuclear bomber.
  • Sexy Secretary: Turgidson's bikini-clad playmate, Miss Scott.
  • Short Title: Long Elaborate Subtitle
  • Shown Their Work: The movie is filled with references to military life and then quite obscure research. Also subverted, what the cockpit of a B-52 looked like was classified so Kubrick and crew just made what a B-29 would look if the plane was shaped like a B-52. They were so close to correct that they were briefly investigated to make sure there was no spying going on! Also all the procedures inside the aircraft (e.g. going through the checklists) are absolutely believable.
  • Slave to PR: Turgidson suggests to capitalize on the mistake and do a full scale attack. Muffley shuts his down with an aversion of Would Be Rude to Say Genocide, Turgidson slaps back.

Muffley : You are talking about mass murder not war [...] I'm not going down in history as the greatest mass murderer since Adolf Hitler.
Turgidson : Perhaps it might be better, Mr. President, if you were more concerned with the American People than with your image in the history books.
Muffley : General Turgidson, I've heard quite sufficient from you. Thank you very much.

  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The ending montage, of course. In-universe, the playing of pleasant civilian music over the radio during a supposed nuclear attack is what clues Mandrake into Ripper's lie.
  • Soviet Superscience: Subverted, Stangelove points out the Doomsday Machine is within the means of even the smallest nuclear power.
  • Stealth Pun: Dr. Strangelove is strangled by his glove.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Mandrake for a while, until Bat Guano's obstructionism makes him lose it.
  • Straight Man: Peter Sellers plays two of these, oddly enough. His third role more than makes up for it.
  • Strawman Political: President Muffley is a well-meaning but ineffectual liberal (look-up the meaning of merkin, or, for that matter, muff) and General Ripper is an insane "John Bircher" conservative.
  • Superweapon Surprise: The Doomsday Machine, "as you know the Premier loves surprises" . It was meant to be announced on Monday.
  • Stupidest Thing I've Ever Heard: Pronounced by Major Kong during his initial incredulous reaction when the crew receives the go ahead codes for "Plan R".
  • This Is a Work of Fiction: The US version has this kind of disclaimer.[1] Actually a subversion or a false reassurance since it conveys the stated position of the Air Force about the subject but not the acknowledgement of the film makers.
  • This Is Not a Drill: Uttered by Ripper (exercise). Mandrake and the crew of the B-52 -except Kong- initially assume that "Plan-R" is a drill or a loyalty test.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Dr. Strangelove is portrayed as a comically bizarre weirdo who is revealed to be completely insane at the very end of the film.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: "Meihn Führer, I Can Walk!"
  • Understatement:
    • "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed..."
    • President Muffley, on the phone with the Soviet Premiere -- "One of our generals went a little... "funny"... and went and did a silly thing..."
  • Unwitting Pawn: The crew of The Leper Colony. Poor guys are just following orders. They don't know that the guy who gave them has lost it.
  • Visual Innuendo: There are a number of phallic and sexual images throughout the film to highlight its theme of sexuality. The famous opening credits sequence of planes refueling in a way which looks like sexual congress. General Ripper is particularly fond of compensating for his impotency with enormous cigars. Major Kong straddles the strikingly tubular bomb just before it explodes.
  • Vodka Drunkenski:
    • Even though we hear only President Muffley's side of the conversation, it's quite obvious that Premier Kisov is sloshed out of his gourd. It's more than hinted earlier when DeSadesky warns Muffley beforehand of a probably intoxicated Kissov.
    • General Ripper asks Mandrake if he has ever seen a Russian drinking water and then "concludes" that they only drink vodka.
  • The War Room: A very influential Ur-example. A huge, elaborate set designed by Ken Adam.
  • Water Source Tampering: General Ripper has a paranoid belief that there is a Communist conspiracy involving water fluoridation which will lead to contamination of everyone's "precious bodily fluids".
  • We Will Meet Again: The memorable final montage plays the song of the same name over images of atomic explosions, implying the two superpowers are destined to trade blows ever after.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: A pastry table seen in one scene refers to the original ending, a colossal pie fight, which was deleted from the film's final cut for being too farcical. The fact that a joke was made about the President being "struck down in his prime" by one of the pies didn't help its case (see Too Soon in the Trivia section).
  • World Gone Mad: Oh yes.
    • Every single group of people are various sorts of insane, incompetent, and/or incapable of focusing on the important subject at hand. Except for the bomber crew, who are all well-trained and manage to adapt to the various obstacles in their path. Too bad they're the one group that desperately needs to fail.
      • Mandrake isn't too bad either. He actually manages to guess the password and get the wing recalled except for one.
  1. It is the stated position of the U.S. Air Force that their safeguards would prevent the occurrence of such events as are depicted in this film. Furthermore, it should be noted that none of the characters portrayed in this film are meant to represent any real persons living or dead.