The Top 5 Films of Stanley Kubrick

Early on in his career Kubrick was a photographer for Look magazine. His experience would greatly influence his film making.
Early on in his career Kubrick was a photographer for Look magazine. His experience would greatly influence his film making.

Stanley Kubrick was a prolific film director, producer, editor, screen writer, and cinematographer born July 26, 1928 to Jewish parents. His films were most noted for their exceptionally bleak outlook on life, distrust in the human condition and amazing visual effects. His films were always meticulously shot, and his later works border on expressionism and surrealism, abandoning traditional storyline.

Kubrick has a number of classics from a variety of genres, from science fiction to war films, sex and romance to historical biography, and social satire to insidious dark comedy. Kubrick was known for being a perfectionist yet reclusive regarding his personal life, and yet was identified by some to be egotistical. This landed him in quite a bit of hot water on multiple occasions, and left many who worked with him to hold him in contempt. Kubrick stated several times throughout his that that he was not religious and did not believe in any of the Earth's monotheistic Gods. He died on March 7, 1999.



5. Dr. Strangelove. Or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Movie Poster
Movie Poster

Release Date: Jan. 29, 1964

Based on: Red Alert by Peter George

Run Time: 94 minute

Budget: $1.8 Million

Gross: $9,164,370


Dr. Strangelove is a black comedy starring Peter Seller's and George C. Scott. satirizing the cold war. The basis of the plot is that unbalanced U.S. general decides to bomb the U.S.S.R. because he thinks they are fluoridating the American water supply.

Dr. Strangelove truly is an American classic. Kubrick took a stone-cold subject and flipped it onto itself. The movie captures a time when humanity was on the brink of total self-anihiliation, and makes the subject literally into one big joke. Great performances by Peters Sellers and George C. Scott and a memorable script make this a timeless classic.


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Peter Sellers and the paralyzed former Nazi Dr. Strangelove.Sellers as British Group Captain Lionel Mandrake.Sellers as U.S. President Merkin Muffley.
Peter Sellers and the paralyzed former Nazi Dr. Strangelove.
Peter Sellers and the paralyzed former Nazi Dr. Strangelove.
Sellers as British Group Captain Lionel Mandrake.
Sellers as British Group Captain Lionel Mandrake.
Sellers as U.S. President Merkin Muffley.
Sellers as U.S. President Merkin Muffley.

Interesting Facts

  • Peters sellers played three roles: Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, U.S. President Merkin Muffley, and Dr. Strangelove
  • George C. Scott and Stanley Kubrick had differing opinions about many scenes, but Scott would concede after Kubrick beat him multiple times a chess
  • Scott would never work for Kubrick again; Kubrick shot what he told Scott were over-the-top "practice" shots that would never be in the film. Kubrick used this footage in the final film and Scott vowed never to work for Kubrick again. Scott still respected Kubrick for his skill in chess
  • This film was deemed "culturally significant" by the United States' congress in 1989 and has been preserved in the National Film Registry.

The Shining (1980)

Corridor shot of the Twins.
Corridor shot of the Twins.

Based On: The Shining By Stephen King

Run Time: 142 minutes

Budget: $22 million

Gross: $44,017,374


The Shining is one of the most iconic horror films of all time. Starring Jack Nicholson, one of the most decorated actors in film history, The Shining is suspense-packed pyschological thriller that leaves its audiences awed and disturbed.

Jack Torrance's (Nicholson) collapse from a struggling alcoholic father into a ravaging lunatic is one of the best transformations in film history. Notice the ghosts; whenever Jack is talking to a ghost he is always facing a mirror. This adds an ambiguous touch of madness to the film which is both perplexing and frightening.





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Interesting Facts an Trivia

  • The only awards this film was nominated for were two Razzies: Worst Director (Kubrick) and Worst Actress (Shelly Duvall) winning the former.
  • This was the second time in movie history, and the first time for Kubrick to use a Steadicam, a then stat-of-the-art technology in which the operator's movements did not affect the camera shot. This allowed for smooth footage.
  • Renowned director Martin Scorsese ranked the Shining 11th on his scariest movie list.
  • Stephen King felt the film adaptation ignored the themes of alcoholism and the disentegration of the family. King took this to heart because he wrote the novel while he was suffering from alcholism, so the novel was in part autobiographical.

3. Full Metal Jacket (1987)

R. Lee Ermey as the intimidating Gunnery Sergeant Hartman.
R. Lee Ermey as the intimidating Gunnery Sergeant Hartman.

Based On: The Short-Timers by Gustav Harsford

Run Time: 116 minutes

Budget: (estimated) $17,000,000 million


One of the best war movies of all time, and most definitely one of the most realistic.A full metal jacket refers to a full magazine of bullets, used by infantry during the Vietnam war. The film follows a platoon of U.S. marines through training and goes through two soldiers' experiences during the Tet Offensive.

Jacket is a bleak outlook on the Vietnam war with the themes of the meaninglessness of the loss of life, and the duality of mankind. R. Lee Ermey gives the performance of a lifetime. Kubrick captures the brutality of war without any of the misleading propaganda that was typical of earlier war films.

Interesting Facts and Trivia

  • Jacket was nominated for an academy award for Best Screenplay
  • Bruce Willis was offered a role, but turned it down to film the first 6 episodes of Moonlighting
  • Kubrick received 3,000 audition tapes, 2,200 which had been filtered out by his staff, and 800 of which he watched personally.
  • R. Lee Ermey was orginally hired as techinical support. Kubrick thought Ermey was not vicious enough to play the role. In order to change Kubrick's mind, Ermey video taped himself badgering Royal Marines while being pelted by tennis balls and oranges by nearby onlookers.
  • Acorrding to Kubrick, Ermey improvised of 50% percent of his dialoge, and came up with over 150 pages of insults. Kubrick said Ermey was "a genius for this part."

2. A CLockwork Orange (1971)

Based on: A Clockwork Orange By Anthony Burgess

Run Time: 137 minutes

Budget: $2.2 milliion

Gross: $26,598,355


Starring Malcolm McDowell, Orange takes place in a dystopian future where the streets of Britain run rampant with “hooligans” who delight in running around drinking drugged milk and committing “ultra-violence.”

Malcolm McDowell gives a chlling performance as the twisted Alex Delarge. One of the most intriguing aspects of the film is the "Nadsat" language which has its roots in Russian. The film explores pyschology, morality, and philosophy. Kubrick digs into the dark nature of mankind, and what it means to be a moral person.

Interesting Facts and Trivia

  • The movie left out the last chapter, as did the American version of the novel. In the British version of the novel, Alex redeems himself deciding to change his ways of violence.

  • The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office for Film and Broadcasting gave the film a rating of "C" for condemned, despite Anthony Burgess' defense of the film for active Christian moral points in opposition to Alex's violent nature throughout the film.

  • David Prowse, the future physical Darth Vader, plays the role of the bodyguard

Written concurrently with Arthur C. Clarke's novel of the same name

Run Time: 161 (Premiere) 142 (Theatrical)

Budget: $10.5 million

Gross: $56,715,371


2001: a Space Odyssey is an epic film, documenting the advancement of mankind from ape, human and beyond. This film is as factually realistic as it is ambitious. 2001 attempts to explore human evolution, the possibilty of extraterrestrial life, and the future of mankind. It is a film that every person needs to see.

The film has limited use of dialoge, and instead relies on then state-of-the-art technology and a masterful musical soundtrack. The film is as culurally relevant today as it was in its premiere in 1968. The predictions of flatscreen devices and the exopential development of artificial intelligence still echoes in today's world, and makes the audience wonder about the future of tommorrow.



Interesting Facts and Trivia

  • The depiction of alien life in the film was suggested by none other than Carl Sagan, famous astronomer and creator of the television series "Cosmos."
  • Nominated for four academy awards: Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, Best Art Direction, and Best Visual effects, winning the last one to give Kubrick his only personal Oscar
  • Ridley Scott, a famous and successful director said that 2001 was an unbeatable film and in a way killed the science fiction genre.

What is Your Favorite Stanley Kubrick Film?

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Comments 6 comments

Eric Prado profile image

Eric Prado 5 years ago from Webster, Texas

Awesome hub! I thought Kubrick's films were very interesting. =)


Richard Fernandez profile image

Richard Fernandez 5 years ago from Detroit, MI Author

Thanks Eric, Kubrick really does have an eclectic bunch of films!


Tina 5 years ago

Great Hub!! Love his films, He was way before his time!!


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

Great and interesting hub.....Peter Sellers was supposed to play a fourth part but because he broke his foot, he was unable to play Major "King" Kong....Slim Pickens played the 4th part....voted up, I really enjoyed your hub.


deblipp profile image

deblipp 5 years ago

I'm actually not a fan of The Shining -- I also dislike Barry Lyndon -- but I know I'm in the minority. I love the other films.


Dustin Dye profile image

Dustin Dye 5 years ago from Kansas City

Great hub, Richard! I love Kubrick too. My top five: (1) Dr. Strangelove, (2) Paths of Glory, (3) A Clockwork Orange, (4) 2001: A Space Odyssey and (5) Full Metal Jacket.

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