RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Peter Sellers

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb)

Posted on
Dr Strangelove

Image credit: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, 1964.

If you’re like me, when the daily news becomes too depressing, and reality is just a little too real, you retreat into fiction. With this in mind, I recently re-watched the classic Kubrick film Dr. Strangelove (DVD/Download).  Despite the fact that the world may now be on the brink of actual nuclear war, and Russians are still being Russians, somehow Peter Sellers manages make me laugh about all of it.  Better than crying right?

This political satire about a lunatic rogue General setting off a chain reaction of nuclear warfare doesn’t sound like my normal cup of tea. But great writing is something I can always appreciate, and this script zings with double entendres, madcap conspiracy theories, and what I fear is frightfully accurate military defense strategy. The film hinges on the brilliant performances by Peter Sellers (in 3 impressive roles), Slim Pickens as the Texan bomb pilot, and George C. Scott as the bumbling military commander. The way Sellers transforms himself into characters is like nothing I’ve seen before or since his time in pictures (sorry Eddie Murphy). Also, keep an eye out for the scenes onboard the plane carrying the nuclear warhead- I spy some Wes Anderson-esque camera work, AND James Earl Jones.

In a toast to the German Dr. Strangelove, ex-Nazi and all around scary creep, I’ll be drinking a spirit I’ve shied away from for many years, Jägermeister. I’ve heard nothing but horror stories of hangovers and blackouts, but like Major King Kong, I’m gonna strap myself to that bomb and go for it. While watching Dr. Strangelove, I recommend drinking a Jägerbomb.

Jägerbomb

1 shot of Jägermeister

1 can of Red Bull energy drink

Pour can of Red Bull into a glass, and drop the Jagermeister into it. Drink quickly before the doomsday device ends us all!

Jagerbomb

The final scene of atomic bomb detonations set to the tune of Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again” is both funny and frightening. After spending the last 90 minutes giggling at Jack D. Ripper’s antics and his rants about precious bodily fluids, my eyes see the bombs, my ears hear the music, and I start to laugh at the irony. But then the screen goes dark, and a grim thought seeps in- maybe Kubrick was right, about all of it. Maybe we’ll meet the bomb again, some sunny day. All I have to say is: drink up while you can. Cheers!

Advertisements

Lolita

Image credit:  Lolita 1997 (left), Lolita 1962 (right)

Image credit: Lolita 1997 (left), Lolita 1962 (right)

Although it probably won’t ever make the required reading lists of any high school, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov is one of the best books ever written. There, I said it. It was my favorite book as an adolescent, still my favorite in my 20’s, and even upon a recent re-reading, it remains a superb example of English prose. The sexual deviancy of the narrator (a man who preys upon teenage girls) would probably turn many people off, but they’d be missing the gorgeous linguistic skills of the author. “She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.” Sentences like this are what have kept me championing this book for decades, and what keep me going as a writer. I’ll never be Nabokov, but one should always have a distant level of genius to aspire toward.

This book is so great in fact, that it took two film adaptations to really tell the story. Most people know of Stanley Kubrick’s 1962 Lolita (DVD/Download) with James Mason as the sophisticated, depraved Humbert Humbert, and I’m certainly a fan. I think it’s beautifully shot, with symbolic close-ups standing in for more gruesome scenes (I’m thinking particularly of the final showdown with Quilty) but it isn’t exactly an accurate adaptation of the book. It’s playful and light, almost a comedy. It captures the spirit of America that I think Nabokov was striving for, but it leaves out most of the emotion and depravity of the book. In contrast, Adrian Lyne’s 1997 version of Lolita (DVD/Download), was a very accurate adaptation plot-wise, nearly to the point of being too much to handle. I’m thinking again of the final showdown with Quilty, which in this version becomes a bloody, gory, gruesome mess- think Tarantino without the humor. However, Jeremy Irons is AMAZING as Humbert. Unfortunately I don’t think either Sue Lyons or Dominique Swain were altogether fantastic as Lolita, but both versions have wonderful Quilty’s, played by Peter Sellers and Frank Langella, respectively.

Whichever version of Lolita you prefer (and I really do suggest watching them both), I recommend harkening back to the novel for cocktail inspiration.  Humbert mentions his preferred drink, the Pin (pineapple juice and gin), so I’ll be enjoying that combination, with an added flirtation of champagne. While watching Lolita, I recommend drinking a Nymphette.

Nymphette

1 oz Gin

2 oz Pineapple Juice

1 oz Champagne

Lemon sugar for rimming

Rim a coupe glass with lemon sugar.  Combine Gin and Pineapple Juice over ice in a shaker.  Shake until chilled, then strain into prepared glass.  Top with Champagne.

Nymphette

You may notice in the above photo that I’ve got a copy of the Lolita audio book as read by Jeremy Irons.  If you’ve never heard it, go find it today (don’t worry if you already threw out your Walkman- it’s available on Audible or CD too).  That velvet voice is a perfect complement to Nabokov’s words, and I find myself getting lost in the beautifully crafted sentences. As poor, tortured Humbert Humbert admits, “You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style.” Cheers!

The Party

Posted on
Image credit The Mirisch Corp., The Party, 1968

Image credit The Mirisch Corp., The Party, 1968

I can’t believe it’s been 7 months of Cinema Sips greatness, and I have yet to discuss the ultimate cocktail movie, the one that made me want to do this blog in the first place. This week, I am beyond excited to feature one of my top favorites, and certainly my absolute favorite film to screen during any cocktail-fueled gathering– The Party (DVD). Truly, this is a great movie to have playing in the background of any party because the physical humor and gorgeous sets mean you don’t necessarily need sound to appreciate it. You would be missing out on Peter Sellers’ absurd Indian accent and a delicious score by Henry Mancini, but you would still have all of your party guests wondering what this fabulous movie is.

This 1968 Blake Edwards classic stars comedy genius Peter Sellers as the bumbling Hrundi V. Bakshi, an Indian actor who accidentally gets invited to a dinner party at a Hollywood producer’s home. He arrives, loses his shoe, mingles with movie stars, spills bird seed everywhere, sticks his hand in caviar, and gets a chicken caught on a woman’s tiara. And that’s just in the first half! There are a lot of sight gags involving the ultra-modern home set, such as people falling in the water feature that runs through the house, guests getting burned by the indoor fire pit, and floors and walls disappearing at the flick of a switch. It’s a ridiculously impractical home, but if I had a million dollars I would build it for myself in a second. The sets and costumes truly capture that 60’s Mod era in a way that Mad Men could only dream of. Beyond that, Peter Sellers is adorable and funny in a pre-Mr. Bean, fish-out-of-water role that only he could pull off, and his love interest played by Claudine Longet is French perfection. Zou-bisou-bisou indeed!

What makes this movie such a great fit for Cinema Sips is the plentiful alcohol that is poured and consumed on-screen for a solid hour and a half. A drunken waiter offering vodka and scotch; Peter Sellers refusing alcohol then getting wine poured all over his hand anyway; Hollywood power players sipping cocktails at the retro bar- it’s a classic cocktail lover’s paradise. Playing off the mix of cultures at this party, I’m crafting a cocktail this week with Indian roots, yet with a hint of French flavoring. Referencing the one scene that gives me the giggles every time, I’m calling it a Howdy Part-en-er.

Howdy Part-en-er

1.5 oz vodka

1 oz unsweetened jasmine green tea (bottled is fine)

½ oz St. Germain Elderflower liqueur

½ oz lemon juice

Mix all ingredients in a shaker over ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass, and enjoy!

Howdy Partener

Once Hrundi gives in and actually has a drink, The Party becomes a wild, nutty ride featuring an elephant, a Russian ballet troupe, and a house full of bubbles. Perhaps you’ve thrown a party or attended one that evolved into something crazier and crazier as the night went on, ending only when the sun comes up. If not, watching this movie makes you feel like you have. I’m sure in real life I would be the neurotic hostess fretting about her hair getting wet while her house is being destroyed, but when I watch this I like to pretend I’m the loopy, drunk actress who sees imaginary things in the bottom of her cocktail glass. After a couple of these vodka-green tea concoctions, I might not be too far off. Cheers!