Stanley Kubrick Narrates a Promo Reel for Dr. Strangelove: Features Unused Takes

Yes­ter­day we fea­tured a trail­er for Cit­i­zen Kane nar­rat­ed by its direc­tor, a cer­tain Orson Welles. Today we give you footage of anoth­er film that needs no intro­duc­tion spo­ken over by anoth­er film­mak­er who does­n’t need one, either: Stan­ley Kubrick­’s Dr. Strangelove: or, How I Learned to Stop Wor­ry­ing and Love the Bomb. But instead of a pol­ished trail­er, Kubrick put togeth­er this near­ly twen­ty-minute “pro­mo reel,” which appears in a two-part playlist above. “Split over two parts and record­ed off the wall from the pro­jec­tion of the rare 35mm reel, the pro­mo reel fea­tures some alter­nate takes not used in the final cut,” writes Cain Rodriguez at Indiewire. “While we’re not exact­ly sure what the reel’s orig­i­nal func­tion was — maybe to pla­cate investors since the satir­i­cal ele­ments are some­what down­played — we’re glad to see this has sur­faced online.” Kubrick recounts the sto­ry of Dr. Strangelove — one as deeply famil­iar as ancient myth to those who have, like me, seen the movie count­less times, always the­atri­cal­ly. He does so in a sur­pris­ing­ly flat, straight­for­ward man­ner, giv­en that the final prod­uct turned out so thor­ough­ly shot through with the black com­e­dy of the absurd.

Over audi­ble pro­jec­tor noise, he tells of all the now-famil­iar ele­ments: the B52‑s 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. But as Kubrick talks about these scenes, some of the most mem­o­rable in 20th-cen­tu­ry cin­e­ma, we see dif­fer­ent ver­sions of them than the ones to which we’ve long grown accus­tomed: dif­fer­ent angles, dif­fer­ent cuts, even dif­fer­ent lines. Despite down­play­ing the com­e­dy, this reel does hint at the bril­liance of the mate­r­i­al, and more­over of Kubrick­’s then-coun­ter­in­tu­itive treat­ment of it. But can any­one who saw it have imag­ined to what an extent the final film would change the way we think about U.S. for­eign pol­i­cy, mil­i­tary intel­li­gence, and the very con­cept of glob­al ther­monu­clear war?

via Cinephil­ia and Beyond

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Inside Dr. Strangelove: Doc­u­men­tary Reveals How a Cold War Sto­ry Became a Kubrick Clas­sic

Aban­doned Alter­nate Titles for Two Great Films: Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove and Hitchcock’s Ver­ti­go

Watch Orson Welles’ Trail­er for Cit­i­zen Kane: As Inno­v­a­tive as the Film Itself

675 Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, etc.

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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