Like all film geeks, I adore the work of Stanley Kubrick (it's a Federal law -- if you don't love Kubrick, you're barred from working in the field. Look it up.) and I'm always on the lookout for new and interesting things about the director or his films. I'd stumbled upon this old promotional interview for Dr. Strangelove not too long ago, and since Neatorama highlighted it today I figured this was as good a time as any to share what I've taken to calling Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Staged Split Screen Interviews.
The seven minute clip is fascinating on a variety of levels. It features George C. Scott and Peter Sellers (two men I love) answering questions we never hear while in character. In the good old days, before crazy paparazzi and TMZ, interviewers would send in a list of questions for their subject. The interviewee would then answer them in a split shot on camera. This footage would then be sent back to the questioner so he could film and insert the question segments and the whole thing would be spliced together, creating the illusion of a real live interview. Seems like a lot of work ...
Scott's segment is up first and it features everything I love about him: the measured voice that manages to somehow be gruff yet soft, the sly sense of humor and his distinctive face that let you know the actor didn't suffer fools kindly. After Scott's "interview" ends, Peter Sellers comes on, in his President Merkin Muffley ensemble. It's vintage Sellers, with the actor showcasing his variety of accents and a surprisingly subtle sense of humor. The clip is ultimately bittersweet, if only because both of these performers are no longer with us.
Sentimentality aside, the piece is still interesting. Not only do you get to see two of the stars from one of Kubrick's many classic films doing promotional work in character, you also get to see how our presentation of celebrity media has changed in dramatic ways over the past few decades. These aren't so much interviews as they are performances -- particularly in the measured responses to questions that aren't really being asked by people who aren't there. In some ways, it's like its own little film, and anything that gives us another performance from these two legends is worthy of appreciation.
Check out the clip below to see George C. Scott and Peter Sellers discuss Dr. Strangelove.