Stanley Kubrick – I started work on the screenplay with every intention of making the film a serious treatment of the problem of accidental nuclear war. As I kept trying to imagine the way in which things would really happen, ideas kept coming to me which I would discard because they were so ludicrous. I kept saying to myself: “I can’t do this. People will laugh.” But after a month or so I began to realize that all the things I was throwing out were the things which were most truthful. After all, what could be more absurd than the very idea of two mega-powers willing to wipe out all human life because of an accident, spiced up by political differences that will seem as meaningless to people a hundred years from now as the theological conflicts of the Middle Ages appear to us today? So it occurred to me that I was approaching the project in the wrong way. The only way to tell the story was as a black comedy or, better, a nightmare comedy, where the things you laugh at most are really the heart of the paradoxical postures that make a nuclear war possible.
Peter Sellers – One day Stanley suggested that I should wear a black glove, which would look rather sinister on a man in a wheelchair. “Maybe he had some injury in a nuclear experiment of some sort,” Kubrick said. So I put on the black glove and looked at the arm and I suddenly thought, “Hey, that’s a storm-tropper’s arm.” So instead of leaving it there looking malignant I gave the arm a life of its own. That arm hated the rest of the body for having made a compromise. That arm was a Nazi.
George C. Scott – Kubrick has a brilliant eye; he sees more than the camera does. He walks in in the morning and says, “This is awful!” and you get used to kicking things around. I used to kid him by saying, “I should’ve gotten the screen credit for Dr. Strangelove because I wrote half the goddam picture.” There’s no B.S. with him, no pomposity, no vanity. The refreshing thing is he hates everything… He is certainly in command, and he’s so self-effacing and apologetic it’s impossible to be offended by him.
Sterling Hayden – I had a terrible time the first day in front of the camera. I lost control and went 48 takes working with a cigar, chewing on a cigar, blowing my lines, and sweating. Finally, I couldn’t take it and went up to Stanley and apologized. I said, “I’m sorry.” He said the most beautiful thing: “Don’t be sorry. The terror on your face might just give us the quality we need. (He said, "Us.”) If it doesn’t work out, come back in six or eight weeks, and we’ll do the scenes then. Don’t worry about it.“ I went back to my room with my wife, Kitty, got a little drunk that night, and had no more problem.
In Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Gen. Ripper’s (Sterling Hayden) paranoia about water fluoridation being a Communist plot is based on a conspiracy theory circulated by the extreme-right-wing John Birch Society in the 1950s and 1960s. The organization, which was founded in 1958, was quite influential in conservative politics at the time, and the “fluoridation is a Communist plot” theory took hold in many rural areas of the US, with some small towns going as far as to not only ban fluoridation of water but to pass ordinances requiring the arrest and jailing of anyone who advocated it (x).
“In its iconography, Le Samouraï, like Le Doulos, multiplies Hollywood citations: the line-up at the police station, ‘lifted’ from The Asphalt Jungle, with Jef, like Dix (Sterling Hayden) staring down at police and witnesses, the police station offices, the black-and-white views of American fire escapes through Jef’s (sash) windows. These, however, are not examples of ‘copying’ or ‘reproduction’, as Tavernier and others would have it, but formal elements that are self-consciously reworked in Melville’s original design.” – Jean-Pierre Melville: An American in Paris