Scheduled for release by Columbia Pictures in early fall, Dr. Strangelove is being shot in England, it was explained, to accommodate Peter Sellers, who was unable to leave the country for domestic reasons. In addition to the President, the protean Sellers also plays the title role of a German scientist, a Texas pilot of an H-bomber headed inexorably for Russia, and an R.A.F. exchange officer. What roles are left are handled by Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn, Peter Bull, James Earl Jones, and Tracy Reed, Sir Carol Reed’s daughter, who, as the sole girl in the cast, is making her screen debut as a Pentagon secretary.
Background air sequences were shot over the Arctic. The sole other nonstudio location, Kubrick stated, was at International Business Machines in London, where Computer 7090 – the same data processor that calculated where Astronaut John H. Glenn Jr. would descend into the ocean after his earth orbit – figured in sequences with Sellers.
The tea break over, the unit lined up for their felt slippers and padded back into the War Room. As cameras began to turn, 30 phones around the table were picked up simultaneously. The President was on the “hot line” to the Soviet Premier in the Kremlin (a full week, incidentally, before that headline-making announcement from Geneva). He spoke in the tones of a progressive nursery school teacher.
“Hello!… Hello, Dimitri…. Yes, this is Merkin. How are you?… Oh fine. Just fine. Look, Dimitri, you know how we’re always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the Bomb?… The Bomb? The HYDROGEN BOMB!… That’s right. Well, I’ll tell you what happened. One of our base commanders…”
The New York Times, April 21, 1963
There’s a distinct possibility I saw this movie screened much too young, as I did “The Graduate” (now, that’s a premiere I remember well, because I was the only six year old in a theater lobby filled with tuxedos and evening gowns and huge sparkling chandeliers) but back to Strangelove, it’s still one of my favorite movies.
A link to the New York Times movie review, January 31st, 1964