King of the Cold War crisis film, Dr. Strangelove became a cultural touchstone from the moment of its release in 1964. The duck-and-cover generation saw it as a satire on nuclear issues and Cold War thinking. Subsequent generations, removed from the film’s historical moment, came to view it as a quasi-documentary about an unfathomable secret world.
Sean M. Maloney uses Dr. Strangelove and other genre classics like Fail Safe to investigate a curious pop cultural contradiction. Nuclear crisis films repeatedly portrayed the failures of the Cold War’s deterrent system. Yet, the system worked. What does this inconsistency tell us about the genre? What does it tell us about the deterrent system, for that matter?
Blending film analysis with Cold War history, Maloney looks at how the celluloid crises stacks up against reality — or at least as much of reality as we can reconstruct from these films with confidence. The result is a daring intellectual foray that casts new light on Dr. Strangelove, one of the Cold War era’s defining films.