Netflix came through with Dr. Strangelove overnight, so I got a reminiscence of my earlier life in the United States Air Force, in SAC (Strategic Air Command). The “Peace is our Profession” logo and poster was even more ubiquitous at McConnell Air Force Base, a real one, than at Burpelson Air Force Base, the fictional one in the movie.
However, this slogan was almost absent from a Google image search. But in those good old days, late 50s early 60’s, it was on the dinner table place mats, on the napkins, on the walls, on the stationery, and everywhere else for that matter; I never noticed any on the toilet paper though. Often the slogan had a picture of a nice New England style church with a B-47 flying over it.
But, I didn’t find one of those but it looked sort of like this B-47 with a church under it.
The various Strangelovian characters are beautifully acted in an comic noir style, and they are loosely based on various real world participants. The general consensus is that George C. Scott’s character was based on the real SAC commander General Curtis LeMay; but I felt Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper was a much closer portrayal of LeMay. But, there is no need for me to quibble over these trivialities because all of the characters are simply fictional composites. The real pleasure is in the movie, and how its underlying horror is made into very funny dialogue. The visuals were quite accurate, with a few strange exceptions like the shadow of a visible B-52 is cast as a B-17, and the amateurish, model of a B-52, wobbling about over mountains in “Siberia”.
One disturbing thing for me was that the quality and consistency of the reasoning of the characters in the movie was much better than their real world counterparts. The real people were just as crazy as those portrayed, but they were constrained by regulations and, reality. I was there and knew some of those people pretty well. For example, one of the more bizarre events in my life as a pilot was late one night when a couple of drunken B-47 pilots came into my BOQ, and with a knife sliced up a map of the world I happened to have on my wall, saying, “I want to drop the bomb; I really want to drop the bomb – it would make me feel really good to drop the bomb.” That’s a direct quote which I found very easy to remember all of these years. I suppose a bomber pilot has to be willing to drop his bombs, but I don’t think it is desirable for him, or for the rest of us, for him to be eager to drop his bombs, especially when they are H-bombs.
It is probably a good idea to watch this movie every decade or so, just to keep ones sanity. Keeping in mind the sub-title – How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb