George C. Scott, who was critical of his acting ability throughout his career, famously declared his role in Dr. Strangelove as General Buck Turgidson to be his favorite performance from his vast career. This shouldn’t be any surprise considering two things: George C. Scott was brilliantly hilarious within the film and he held up his own alongside the talented Peter Sellers, who starred in the movie in three separate roles.
Dr. Strangelove is the satirical response to the Cuban Missile Crisis that occurred only two years before. Within the fictional plot General Ripper, who is in command of the fighter planes, all armed with nuclear bombs, believes that the Russians are stealing “our bodily fluids” and gives each plane the order to proceed to their target. Furthermore, General Ripper takes RAF Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers) hostage, leaving Mandrake to attempt to talk down Ripper and give him the plane recall codes, Elsewhere in the process to stop the bomb, The President of the United States (Peter Sellers again) meets in his Pentagon “War Room” with his generals in an effort to recall the planes and also try to appeal to Russia in the chance a bomb is accidentally detonated in their region. What further complicates the matter is the revelation that the Russians have a “doomsday device” that will go off if their region is bombed, as indicated by Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers once again). These plotlines weave together one of the most brilliant satires and comedies of all time.
The plot is absurd, yet in typical Stanley Kubrick style, the film is appealing in a comedic way. The film’s satirical tone diminishes the fear element of the plot and instead interjects a commentary of how inane governments are, while also providing commentary on how easily war can be provoked and evoked in a matter of minutes. George C. Scott’s Buck Turgidson is the hilarious general who is insisting to the President that a “sneak attack” is the best strategy. He figures the planes can’t be recalled, so we might as well “catch them with their pants down!” George C. Scott’s character is a hilarious caricature of generals during the Cuban Missile Crisis who were urging President Kennedy to fire first when it seemed that the sea blockage may be breached by Russia. It’s an unapologetic performance from George C. Scott, who gave the performance his all and is stunningly effective within the comedy genre.
George C. Scott was famously known for rejecting Oscar nominations, citing that the film industry was a “meat market” and he had no interest in being in competition with other actors. For this sentiment, George C. Scott’s was most likely ignored and not even taken into consideration. Instead, Academy members placed focus on Peter Sellers and were wowed by his ability to be three completely different characters within a single movie and maintain humor with all three. Yet George C. Scott, despite his views about the Oscars, would eventually go on to be nominated twice, even winning once for Lead Actor for Patton (which he rejected). This creates the claim that his lack of a nomination by the Oscars for Dr. Strangelove was indeed an Oscar snub.