Dr. Strangelove as a Secondary Source

Dr. Strangelove was actually one of two 1964 movies that explored the theme of accidental nuclear devastation. The other movie was Fail-Safe, based on the 1962 bestseller by Harvey Wheeler and Eugene Burdick. The difference between the two movies is that Dr. Strangelove is a comedy while Fail Safe plays the story straight.[1] Directed by Sidney Lumet, Fail Safe did not capture the public’s imagination. Kubrick also based his movie on Peter George’s Two Hours to Doom (1958) which was published in the US as Red Alert. Kubrick bought the rights for Red Alert from George and in 1963, together with George and Terry Southern, he began to write the screenplay for Dr. Strangelove. For the majority of the movie, Kubrick stuck to the book; however, he made a radical difference with the ending. In Red Alert the bomber is stopped and Earth is saved, but Kubrick decided to stick to his darkly comic vision and followed the definitive premise of deterrence theory to its terrifying conclusion.[2]


[1] Boyer, Paul. Fallout: A Historian Reflects on America’s Half- Century Encounter with Nuclear Weapons. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1998.

[2]Boyer, 97.



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