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I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion, and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.
~ Ripper revealing his true nature to Mandrake

Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper is the main antagonist of the 1964 black comedy film Dr. Strangelove (or how I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb). He was Captain Mandrake's supervisor and the Strategic Air Command General who blamed the Russians for contaminating his "precious bodily fluids" and ruining his sexual performance and was convinced they were planning a sneak attack.

He was portrayed by the late Sterling Hayden.

History

Ripper is first seen calling British officer Group Captain Mandrake. Paranoid and crazed, he sat at his desk in a dark room smoking a cigarette and called about something important. He informed Mandrake about the declaration of a Red Alert. He thought there was a Russian sneak attack, and ordered Plan R, which was an emergency war plan where a lower echelon commander could order nuclear retaliation. As the alert got signaled by a siren sounding on the base, and the special code is transmitted to a fleet of B-52's (one of those being Major Kong's), Ripper closes his venetian blinds.

He used the PA system from his desk with his cigar in one hand and the phallic-looking microphone in the other. He paranoically proclaims the Red Alert to grim-faced guards and soldiers who stand ready. He claimed the Russians had no regard for human life, and told his troops to not trust anyone unless they personally knew them, that anything within 200 yards of the perimeter was to be fired upon, and to shoot first and ask questions afterwards. Taking extra precautions, General Ripper has effectively closed off his base so that it will be impossible to reverse the order or contact him. Changes would have to come personally from him.

He sends a jeep to confiscated the troop's radios so he could prevent the Russians from planting false radio transmissions. While listening to Ripper's voice, Mandrake found a transistor radio in the computer room as he was closing up. He switches it on and listens to soft jazz dance music instead of civil defense broadcasts.

At the Air Force base, Mandrake walks with the portable radio playing jazz tunes through the halls to Ripper's office. Demonstrating that regular "civilian broadcasting" is being played on the radio while twirling the dial, he tells Ripper that if a real Russian attack was under way, regular broadcasts wouldn't be playing. Ripper slowly rises from his desk, walks to the far end of the room, and locks the door. Ripper menacingly tells Mandrake, that he will not tolerate "any special prerogatives to question my orders" from an officer in the Exchange Programme. With typical British understatement, Mandrake suddenly realizes that the bomber attack orders originated not from the President but from Ripper himself, and he respectfully suggests they shouldn't start a nuclear war unless necessary.

As Mandrake stands in front of Ripper's desk, Ripper insists that he won't recall the planes. Mandrake suggests that there was off. Ripper tries changing the subject by getting him to mix a drink of grain alcohol and rainwater. Mandrake respectfully announces his duty to issue the recall code under his own authority and bring back the Wing - the code prefix that can radio the bombers to turn back in time. As he walks to the door, he finds that he is being held hostage - his only exit is locked. While Mandrake insistently asks for the door key and recall code, the demented Ripper uncovers his pearl-handled .45 revolver sitting on the desk.

Crazed with his plan, Ripper tries to justify his actions for starting a war and claims his actions will forestall the Soviet plot to fluoridate US drinking water.

Later on, guard soldiers were viewing approaching trucks of soldiers through their binoculars where a battle would start. They believe Ripper's admonition about Communist infiltration, accepting the fact that they are going to fight Russians disguised as Americans. The firefight battle (of American troops against Americans) commences between guards with machine guns in the foreground against their own troops in the distance. In Ripper's office, Mandrake and Ripper listen to the gunfire in silence.

Still in Ripper's office with gunfire sounding in the background, General Ripper puts a comforting (and menacing) arm around a worried Mandrake's shoulder, revealing his completely paranoidal, psycho-sexual, psychotic lunacy. As Mandrake realized he was speaking face-to-face with the real enemy and is literally being gripped by him, he nervously fingers and folds a piece of chewing gum in his fingers in front of him. According to him—who has found a scapegoat for his own sexual inadequacies in the Russkies—Commies were unaffected by the plot to pollute the water of the world because they drink vodka.

Machine-gun fire rips through Ripper's office, shattering his window, and knocking down his overhead fluorescent light unit. Ripper strides to the window and takes his own machine gun from a golf bag in his closet, sweeps his desk clear with the gun barrel, and mounts the gun on his desk, asking Mandrake to help feed the ammunition belt of cartridges into the machine.

Ripper, believing that Commie soldiers, disguised in US uniforms, are fighting their way into the base, wishes to fight them off. He orders Mandrake to help him fend off the invading army. On the couch, Mandrake begs off by gasping that he has a "gammy leg" from an old war injury and that he can't get up.

Ripper continues to defend himself against the attacking troops - his office is in shambles with glass flying in all directions. He continues his discussion about his concerns with fluoridation while Mandrake is feeding the machine gun. He first developed his theory and became aware of the international Communist plot during a strenuous bout of physical love-making in which he felt sexual anxiety. He blames his male impotency and sexual inadequacy on the Russian conspiracy. From then on, he hoards his bodily fluids and keeps them for himself.

General Ripper's defending troops surrender Burpelson. Mandrake still thinks there's time to "recall the wing." But Ripper strides through the debris in his office, using his machine gun as a crutch, to a chair where he sits and complains that his troops were like his children and they let him down. His cigar has gone out, hanging limply in his mouth. Man to man, Mandrake consoles Jack with talk of his own water-drinking habits and resultant virility.

Jack asks Mandrake about his experience as a POW facing torture. Worried about the passing time, Mandrake quickly tells Jack about his torture by the Japanese. Ripper mumbles about his fear that he'll be tortured to divulge the code. Mandrake, realizing his opportunity, cajoles and advises that Ripper could confide in him and divulge the code. Ripper expounds his belief in the afterlife. As Mandrake follows him to a bathroom, trying to see if he could get Ripper to reveal the recall code. Ripper closes the door behind him, and calmly shoots himself inside the bathroom with his loaded pistol and falls against the closed door, leaving Mandrake unable to push open the door from the outside.

Mandrake continues trying to figure out the code and takes a look at some doodles on a notepad left on Ripper's desk (Mandrake had trouble figuring out the code form the jumble of words that filled Ripper's mind in his last few hours ("Peace On Earth" and "Purity Of Essence" formed interlocking, crossword-like patterns). Arbitrarily, Mandrake whispers the letters: "O P E." They are twisted permutations of the recall code.

Gun shots destroy the lock on the office door. Colonel "Bat" Guano, the gun-happy leader of the attack forces, enters brandishing an M-1 rifle. Guano orders Mandrake to put his hands over his head and then inspects his uniform. Offended by the insult, Mandrake indignantly replies it was an RAF uniform. And revealed he was Ripper's executive officer.

Although Guano wants to question him about Ripper and take him prisoner, Mandrake is anxious to call SAC and urgently pleads with him to phone the President and try a recall code based on the POE patterns in Ripper's doodles. Unfortunately, both of Ripper's phones are inoperable (one was blasted away during the fighting, the other lacks a phone cord).

Guano holds Mandrake gunpoint and sends him out of Ripper's office to the main gate. Sexually-anxious like Ripper was, Guano assesses the situation and blames the "perverts", then he suspects that Mandrake is one of them.

As next in command after Ripper, Mandrake insists on talking to the President by phone in a nearby phone booth. He threatens Guano that he'd be lucky to wear a bloody toilet attendant's uniformm

Mandrake's able to convince Guano to let him enter a pay phone booth, but warns him not to try any perversions. Mandrake reaches for his change, places coins in the slot, and dials the operator for the President, requesting first a person-to-person call and then a collect call. The collect call is refused, and Mandrake doesn't have the necessary change to pay for the call - he's just 20 cents short. He asks Colonel Guano to shoot the lock off a nearby Coca-Cola machine to obtain change. Guano was hesitant to damage corporate property and threatened he'd have to answer to the Coca-Cola company if he failed to get the President on the phone. The Colonel fires into the machine, causing coins to spill out from the coin return slot. As he bends down to scoop them up, he is showered in the face with a jet stream of Coke from the machine.

Mandrake's able to make the call, and in the War Room, a voice on the PA announces that the recall code (OPE) had been successfully transmitted and acknowledged by the 843 bomber wing (except for four planes that were reported destroyed by enemy action). Jubilant cheers signal rejoicing over the announcement, before Turgidson hushes the room, climbs onto a chair, and offers a military-style prayer to God, as the camera focuses on Dr. Strangelove in the dark shadows.

The prayer is interrupted by a hotline phone call from Premier Kissof who revealed that one of the planes didn't turned back. The Russian air defense staff claims only three aircraft have been destroyed and the fourth plane, Kong's damaged plane flying at a low altitude, is still on its way to its target. Kong's plane couldn't respond to the recall code. One the nuclear bombs on the plane is dislodged as it reaches its target and sets off the Doomsday Machine which destroys all life on Earth.


Trivia

  • The name Jack D Ripper is an obvious play on Jack the Ripper