A look back at this day in film history
January 29
Dr. Strangelove January 29, 1964
Dr. Strangelove released

In the 1960s — as today, actually — nuclear war was no laughing matter. Air raid sirens, bomb shelters, and young students being taught to “duck and cover” — all were familiar signs that amidst the Cold War nuclear Armageddon was a real possibility. So, when Stanley Kubrick decided to make a movie about nuclear war, he initially thought it should be a serious affair. But as screenwriter Terry Southern recounted in “Notes from the War Room,” published in Grand Street, Kubrick told him that he “’woke up and realized that nuclear war was too outrageous, too fantastic to be treated in any conventional manner.’ He said he could only see it now as "some kind of hideous joke.” With Peter Sellers playing multiple roles, including the film’s titular character, an ex-Nazi nuclear bomb scientist, Kubrick’s Doctor Strangelove opened on January 29, 1964 to a wide acclaim, with the film’s black comedy, including Slim Pickens as a cowboy pilot joyously and sexually straddling a nuclear bomb as it drops to its target, shocking an audience who maybe wanted to forget how plausible its true concerns were. As Southern would write in an unpublished Esquire article, later excerpted in Filmmaker Magazine, “From beginning to end, Dr. Strangelove is, among other things, an unrelenting indictment of the specious logic and the conveniently flexible semantics which have served militarists and politicians in such good stead from time immemorial.” Today, the biggest nuclear weapons threat comes from not a conventional world war but from accidental use. The Global Security Institute, founded by former Senator Alan Cranston, promotes the elimination of nuclear weapons through international treaties and cooperation.

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January 29, 1964
Alan Ladd commits suicide

An actor, famous for his brooding, emotionally troubled roles, ends his own life.

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