This fascinating footage was posted about a year ago on YouTube, representing the first time in decades, if ever, that it had been made available for public viewing. It’s a promo reel for Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, lasting roughly 20 minutes (it’s broken up into 2 YouTube videos) that was recorded off the wall from the projection of the scarce 35mm reel with what appears to be Kubrick himself providing a kind of play-by-play for the various scenes that are depicted—many of which have become utterly iconic by this time.
It was the essential blog Cinephilia and Beyond who first spotted this, to my knowledge. The reel includes, as Open Culture’s charmingly Strangelove-obsessed Colin Marshall put it, “the B52s circling constantly, refueling in midair; Brigadier General Jack Ripper’s sudden order to bomb Russia; General Buck Turgidson’s wee-hour departure for the ‘War Room’; the siege of Burpelson Air Force Base; Group Captain Lionel Mandrake’s struggle for the recall code and subsequent confrontation with the ‘prevert’-fixated Colonel Bat Guano; President Merkin Muffley’s bad news-breaking call to Russian Premier Dmitri Kissoff; the titular German expatriate scientist’s plan to restart society after the nuclear apocalypse.”
The footage is undeniably raw—considering it was filmed from a projected image—and some of the takes are unfamiliar. This was a work in progress of one of the most galvanizing cinematic successes of the 20th century, and it’s fascinating to hear the flat, Bronx-bred accent of the master walk the viewer through the movie. It’s not clear what the purpose of this promo reel was, but Cain Rodriguez at The Playlist speculates that the idea may have been “to placate investors since the satirical elements are somewhat downplayed.”
Continues after the jump…