Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
This 1964 Stanley Kubrick, movie is considered a classic. The movie is a dark comedy set in the early 1960’s. In 1998 The American Film Institute (AFI) rated it the 26th best movie of the first 100 years of film. And in 2002 it was give the designation of the 5th best comedy of the first 100 years of film, also by the AFI. The academy award winner that year was My Fair Lady, AFI rated it the 91st best movie of the first 100 years.
It is arguable if this movie is a comedy, political satire or a drama with some humor. Frankly as a child it scared the bejeebers out of me and I bet if I watched it today I would still be scared. Some kids worried about the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz, I worried about the fleeting image of Slim Pickens as Major T. J. "King" Kong riding the nuclear war head to a massive explosion. If you know the movie because of a mistake an American B-58 Hustler aircraft drops a war head on a soviet city and in exchange for the mistake a bomb is dropped on New York City. Since I lived less than 10 miles from a main base for the B-58’s; we were often told that our city would be one of the first to be bombed if the Soviet Union sent missiles to the United States. Frankly I was so freaked out after seeing it, that when the B-58’s would fly over our house, creating a sonic boom and knocking things off shelves, I used to think the bomb had been dropped. You would be surprised at how any times I ducked and covered.
Thinking back on it now, I should have been worried that the prescribed method of surviving a nuclear bomb was to duck and cover. Somehow thinking back about the situation, it was pure lunacy that gave me comfort in putting my hands over my head to survive a nuclear blast. Later in my life someone told me that putting my hands over my head was a positive thing since it would give me something to do in the last moments of my life. I suppose that is something, exactly what I don’t know for certain. I guess someone was thinking I might not keep my hands to myself in those last minutes, if I was left to fend for myself.
So why am I discussing this movie? There must some reason I bet you are hoping? Well yes there is and that something is Peter Sellers. Peter Sellers was contracted to play 4 parts in the movie. In fact the studio insisted that he play no less than four parts in the movie. Otherwise, the studio would not green light the movie for production. Four parts in a movi e is nearly unheard of and in the end due to an injury Peter Sellers had to give up one of the four parts. He played:
Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, a British RAF exchange officer
President Merkin Muffley, the American President and Commander-in-Chief
Dr. Strangelove, the wheelchair-bound nuclear war expert and former Nazi, whose gloved but uncontrollable right hand apparently has a mind of its own
He had to give up the part of Air Force Major T. J. "King" Kong, after he sprained his ankle and could not comfortably fit in the mockup of the cockpit.
I think there is a lesson in this part of the story for Diabetics. How many times are we called on to fulfill too many roles? For Peter Sellers, he felt from the beginning that being Air Force Major T. J. "King" Kong, was too strenuous and that he could not play the role correctly. There are conflicting reports, but Peter Sellers may have sacrificed ¼ of his salary when he refused the fourth part.
Diabetics have to fulfill so many roles, employee, spouse, parent, dating partner, mechanic, cook, maid and of course medical specialist. Is one of these roles, one too many? We know that some roles we can never give up. I will always be a parent and spouse. But I had to come to grips with the fact that I am not a mechanic and now because of RA I can no longer work.
I suppose Peter Sellers never ducked and covered but sometimes many of us have to duck and cover in order to be able to fulfill the obligations we cannot give up. Among those we cannot give up is being Diabetic. No matter how many times we might try.
I think the lesson is that today Peter Sellers is considered a genius for the way he played the three parts he kept. Would he have done so well if he had kept all four parts? Sometimes, giving up a portion of what we do, can vastly improve the roles we keep.