Tag Archives: Terry Southern

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964)

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Director – Stanley Kubrick

Writers – Terry Southern, Peter George, Stanley Kubrick

For me, Peter Sellers is the best British comic actor of all time. Chaplain was perhaps more charming and elegant, Rowan Atkinson perhaps more dexterous and refined, but Sellers has a versatility and brio that is unrivalled. In Dr. Strangelove, he manages to show us just how brilliant he is by playing three vastly different roles. He doesn’t rub his performance in our faces, showing off with wild abandon as some would, he just does it subtly downbeat and straight. As the effete British officer Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, Sellars gives a charming performance, having to think and act quickly and rationally in a bid to avert global disaster. As the US President Merkin Muffley, he asserts natural leadership qualities, giving a conscientious performance full of presense. (If only real presidents were this noble, but I suppose that’s the point. This is a satire, after all!)

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Dr. Strangelove himself is Sellars’ piece de resistance, or not, as a resistance is probably the last thing that Stranglove would agree with. Clouseau was an iconic film character, but his cheeky, confused persona are dwarfed in movie history by the imprint of Strangelove. The film is named after him, predominantly, after all, with the added title ‘How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb’. This is Mutually Assured Destruction at its most scabrous and scathing. See it before the world goes up in flames!

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Easy Rider (1969)

Easy Rider

Director – Dennis Hopper

Writers – Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, Terry Southern

What can you say about Easy Rider that hasn’t already been said? It’s a film about some guys, Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper), who ride across the country on motorbikes. That’s the basic summary, but there’s more to it than that. The creators, Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda, could never agree on who officially wrote it, not realising that they both probably did together, but were too frazzled to remember. It was the sixties, after all. There are hitch-hikers and crazy communes, dirty deals and a psychedelic trip to Mardi Gras, all shot with stunning cinematography. Jack Nicholson comes along for the ride in a spectacular performance as affable lawyer George Hanson who wants to cut loose, and each actor contributes to the glowing whole in its intense entirity.

The soundtrack itself was revolutionary too, taking in Bob Dylan, Steppenwolf and the irascible Holy Modal Rounders amongst others, creating a swathe of free-wheeling odes to freedom, liberty and sticking it to The Man.

This is an exploration of the American Dream, and some of the realities that arise from it after you wake up. Ultimately, if you resist the Establishment, you pay the price.

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Get hold of a copy of Easy Rider here!