4 pm update: Before anything else, consider information supplied this morning by Lee Hill, a British-residing HE reader and Terry Southern biographer who stated that the Dr. Strangelove pie-fight sequence exists on film and is currently being stored in British Film Institute archives.

Earlier: This morning I stumbled upon a fascinating article by Dr. Strangelove co-writer Terry Southern. Titled “Notes From The War Room“, it contains several inside-baseball stories about the making of Stanley Kubrick‘s 1964 classic comedy, and particularly a blow-by-blow description of the pie-fight scene:

“[Then] we began shooting the famous eleven-minute ‘lost pie fight,’ which was to come near the end of the movie. This footage began at a point in the War Room where the Russian ambassador is seen, for the second time, surreptitiously taking photographs of the Big Board, using six or seven tiny spy-cameras disguised as a wristwatch, a diamond ring, a cigarette lighter and cufflinks.

“The head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force General Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott) catches him in flagrante and, as before, tackles him and throws him to the floor. They fight furiously until President Merkin Muffley intervenes: “This is the War Room, gentlemen! How dare you fight in here!”

“General Turgidson is unfazed. ‘We’ve got the Commie rat redhanded this time, Mr. President!’

“The detachment of four military police, which earlier escorted the ambassador to the War Room, stands by as General Turgidson continues: ‘Mr. President, my experience in these matters of espionage has caused me to be more skeptical than your average Joe. I think these cameras” — he indicates the array of ingenious devices — “may be dummy cameras, just to put us off. I say he’s got the real McCoy concealed on his person. I would like to have your permission, Mr. President, to have him fully searched.’

“‘All right,’ the President says, ‘permission granted.’

“General Turgidson addresses the military police: ‘Okay boys, you heard the President. I want you to search the ambassador thoroughly. And due to the tininess of his equipment, do not overlook any of the seven bodily orifices.’ The camera focuses on the face of the ambassador as he listens and mentally calculates the orifices with an expression of great annoyance.

“‘Why, you capitalist swine!’ he roars, and reaches out of the frame to the huge three-tiered table that was wheeled in earlier. Then he turns back to General Turgidson, who now has a look of apprehension on his face as he ducks aside, managing to evade a custard pie that the ambassador is throwing at him.

“President Muffley has been standing directly behind the general, so that when he ducks, the president is hit directly in the face with the pie. He is so overwhelmed by the sheer indignity of being struck with a pie that he simply blacks out. General Turgidson catches him as he collapses.

“‘Gentlemen,’ he intones, ‘The president has been struck down, in the prime of his life and his presidency. I say massive retaliation!’ And he picks up another pie and hurls it at the ambassador. It misses and hits instead General Faceman, the joint Chief representing the Army. Faceman is furious.

“‘You’ve gone too far this time, Buck!’ he says, throwing a pie himself, which hits Admiral Pooper, the Naval Joint Chief who, of course, also retaliates. A monumental pie fight ensues.”