Did a WWI Recruiting Poster Inspire the Most Iconic Shot in Dr. Strangelove?

Behold a seaman straddling a torpedo like a bull.

Recall the climactic scene from Dr. Strangelove, where Major Kong straddles the atomic bomb, riding it like a rodeo bull as it plummets toward nuclear apocalypse:

What was the inspiration for that scene? It's impossible to know for sure. But as I was strolling through the Deutsches Historisches Museum, where there's a substantial section on World War I, I unexpectedly came across this American recruitment poster:

Did Stanley Kubrick ever see that poster? Either way, it's a hell of an image to persuade someone to risk his life in the fight against unrestricted submarine warfare!

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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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