Fail-Safe

Fail-Safe

4.0 6
Director: Sidney Lumet

Cast: Henry Fonda, Walter Matthau, Frank Overton

     
 

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Based on the novel by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler, Fail-Safe is set for the most part at Strategic Air Command headquarters, where a misguided transmission sends a squadron of bombers hurtling towards Russia, fully prepared to drop their atomic weaponry on Moscow. Air Force commander Frank Overton desperately tries to establish radio contact with theSee more details below

Overview

Based on the novel by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler, Fail-Safe is set for the most part at Strategic Air Command headquarters, where a misguided transmission sends a squadron of bombers hurtling towards Russia, fully prepared to drop their atomic weaponry on Moscow. Air Force commander Frank Overton desperately tries to establish radio contact with the bombers, but once the pilots have passed the "fail safe" point, they've been instructed to disregard any reversal of orders. Racing against time, US President Henry Fonda, through his interpreter (Larry Hagman), informs the Russian premiere of the impending nuclear disaster. Working in concert with SAC, the Russians send up interceptors to shoot down the American bombers, while some of the planes run out of fuel and crash. Unfortunately, one aircraft, piloted by Edward Binns, manages to escape destruction and continues on its fatal mission. Realizing that Moscow is doomed, the President must decide how to avert World War III. Featured in the cast of Fail Safe are Walter Matthau as a hawkish scientist, Fritz Weaver as a round-the-bend colonel, and Dom DeLuise (billed as "DeLouise") as a weeping sergeant. Fail-Safe is followed by a government-dictated disclaimer insisting that the events leading up to the nuclear disaster depicted in the film could not possibly happen.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
One little glitch threatens the world with a thermonuclear nightmare in Sidney Lumet's definitive cold-war drama, Fail-Safe. The plot is clean and to the point: A few U.S. bombers are accidentally sent toward Moscow, and the powers that be, including the president (Henry Fonda), spend the next desperate hour or so trying to stop World War III. There are some top-notch war room scenes here, and plenty of philosophical debate about whether nuclear war is winnable, yet despite the sensational subject, Lumet directs with magnificent restraint: Fail-Safe is shot in stark black-and-white and has no musical score. Fonda is the soul of the film as he presides over the crisis from a small bunker below the White House; he gives a brilliantly low-key performance, projecting a kindly, wise, and almost eerie calm, while his unspoken fears are clearly visible in his eyes. The result is a somber, chilling cautionary tale that builds slowly but inexorably to a surprising -- and very disturbing -- climax.
All Movie Guide - Michael Costello
Sidney Lumet's cold war thriller, adapted from the novel by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler, is a reasonably tense and well-played cautionary tale on the threat of nuclear holocaust with echoes of the then-recent Cuban missile crisis. The plot, which bears such a striking resemblance to that of Dr. Strangelove that director Stanley Kubrick threatened the studio with a plagiarism suit, centers on a group of SAC bombers that receive a mistaken order to unload nuclear warheads on Moscow. Lumet's theater and live television experience dovetailed nicely with a script that called for SAC headquarters to become the sole locus for most of the film, creating an atmosphere of claustrophobic suspense. Most of the steps in this doomsday genre follow a familiar ritual, and there is little here that is new. Familiar as the material may be, Lumet evokes fine performances from an excellent cast, including Henry Fonda, Walter Matthau, Fritz Weaver, and Larry Hagman.

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Product Details

Release Date:
10/31/2000
UPC:
0043396055902
Original Release:
1964
Rating:
NR
Source:
Sony Pictures

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Henry Fonda President
Walter Matthau Groeteschele
Frank Overton Gen. Bogan
Edward Binns Col. Grady
Dan O'Herlihy Gen. Black
Fritz Weaver Col. Cascio
Larry Hagman Buck
William Hansen Secretary Swenson
Russell Hardie Gen. Stark
Russell Collins Gordon Knapp
Sorrell Booke Cong. Raskob
John P. Connell Thomas
Frank Simpson Sullivan
Hildy Parks Betty Black
Janet Ward Mrs. Grady
Dana Elcar Mr. Foster
Stuart Germain Mr. Cascio
Louise Larabee Mrs. Cascio
Frieda Altman Jennie
Nancy Berg Ilsa Wolfe
Dom DeLuise Sgt. Collins

Technical Credits
Sidney Lumet Director,Producer
Walter Bernstein Screenwriter
Albert Brenner Art Director
Harry Buchman Makeup
J.C. Delaney Set Decoration/Design
Harry Falk Asst. Director
Gerald Hirschfeld Cinematographer
Storyboard Inc Special Effects
Anna Hill Johnstone Costumes/Costume Designer
Charles H. Maguire Associate Producer
Ralph Rosenblum Editor
Max E. Youngstein Producer

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