Ben Richards’s review published on Letterboxd:
Ok so I enjoyed this film on my first viewing but having watched and re-watched a load of Kubrick over recent months I felt like a repeat viewing of Strangelove needed to be on the cards - as expected I enjoyed this film a lot more the second time round.
First time around I got a real kick out of Peter Sellers and picked up on some of the humour here and there but if I am being honest was a little let down with the picture and couldn't help feeling that the comedy felt a little dated. I remember thinking that perhaps I couldn't quite relate to the film's political commentary as I just didn't know enough about Cold War. I know that I certainly didn't appreciate just how insane a concept Strangelove as a film was at the time and perhaps that was the reason I wasn't head over heals for it first time round. Let me clarify though, that I did enjoy the film (and in fact gave it four stars) I just didn't love it as much as many other Kubrick films that I consider to be among the greatest films I've certainly ever seen.
Approaching it the second time however I knew what to expect and, having subsequently read a lot about the film and its production after my first viewing I was really interested to see what my second take on the film would be.
Unsurprisingly I felt like I got a hell of a lot more out of the film this time around! It is an incredibly funny film that, when you consider the time it was made and its source material, only makes even funnier. I think what always amazes with Kubrick is his ability to execute his artistic intentions SO adeptly and in that respect this film is certainly no different
Furthermore for me this time around it was the amazing performances and cast that really made this film. Peter Sellers, playing three completely different characters, is perhaps at his best ever. His portrayal of the President, a British officer and the titular Dr Strangelove reminded me so much of Alec Guinness In kind Hearts and Coronets except I sort of feel these performances go even beyond Guinness in that Sellers seems to completely inhabit each character to the point that they genuinely feel like different people.
Add to Peter Sellers some really great performances from Sterling Hayden (with all his crazy bodily fluid talk) and George C Scott, both of whom I feel are under appreciated when it comes to critiquing this film (it really is seen as the "Sellers show") and some of the best performances in a comedy I've certainly ever seen.
Performances aside I must mention the beautiful credits by Pablo Ferro as well as the set design by Ken Adam. With regards to the sets in particular it isn't often I take note of sets as amazing as the "War Room" in Strangelove as it manages to somehow feel claustrophobic in some shots whilst seeming immensely expansive in others.
All in all though credit must go to Stanley Kubrick. Who else had the nerve to make such a film at such a sensitive period in American history and on top of that make it a comedy! Furthermore you can talk all day about how good the performances, the music, the cinematography and design were on Strangelove but it ultimately all comes down to that man Kubrick. The puppet master who always seems to know just how to align the strings in such a way you never thought was possible.
Over the past few years I have seen my taste in Cinema change to the point that I just don't view some films in the same manner I used to. There is something about Stanley Kubrick's films however that I find incredibly hard to define but it is something that will always keep me coming back for more.