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Fail-Safe (1963)

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Release Date: Oct 7, 1964 Wide

audience

91

liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 6,859

My Rating

Movie Info

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

Unrated,

Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Classics

Walter Bernstein

Oct 31, 2000

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

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All Critics (15) | Top Critics (2) | Fresh (12) | Rotten (1) | DVD (11)

Lumet's tense political drama is riveting, but unfortunately it was released the same year as Kubrick's similarly-themed Dr. Strangelove, which was a satire and more thus more popular

July 3, 2011 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Lumet, o mais subestimado dos diretores, mantém a tensão sempre constante, extraindo ainda grandes atuações de seu elenco e investindo num desfecho impactante e corajoso.

February 2, 2009
Cinema em Cena

Tense, chilling and earnest Cold War political thriller.

July 19, 2007 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Still impressive Cold War thriller from a time when WW III seemed inevitable.

October 20, 2004
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Wow! One of the scariest black and white films of all time.

August 8, 2002
Sun Newspapers of Cleveland

Audience Reviews for Fail-Safe

This is the flip-side of the coin upon which you find Dr. Strangelove. Riveting performances and incredibly tense telephone exchanges lead to an ending you will not forget. The closing sequence is so impossibly unacceptable that it becomes absolutely believable in its inevitability. True, it's a bit dated, but If they'd found a part for Peter Sellers in this, I'm sure I would give it a full five stars : ) A seriously amazing movie that came out just months after Dr. Strangelove . Definitely the second best anti-war movie ever. Freakin riveting.
July 10, 2011
binky013

Super Reviewer

An incredibly dramatic and intense depiction of the exagerated armamentistic career and the state of paranoia among superpowers, triggered not only by mechanical failures but by fanatism, extreme rigurosity or simple lack of human decency. Lumet's concatenation of silent and claustrophobic close ups work as a time bomb in a countdown to explotion with each passing second and the screenplay has the necessary ideological ambiguity of a tragedy, divergent positions over the same issue bouncing around, leading us to feel uneasy and desperate to work out a solution ourselves if we were among the politicians that decide our fate in the war room.
For some, like the pragmatic but souless character played by Walter Matthau, human casualties are only statistics, war is effective to preserve the economical strenght of his country; others like the President played by Henry Fonda, are willing to take any action to straight the balance. An executive decision that seems far fetched, but makes the film even more powerful and rounds up more biblical and mythological allusions to make it seem timeless, therefore a highly probable worst case scenario.
May 11, 2011
pier007

Super Reviewer

This movie is pretty much exactly the same as Dr. Strangelove except that it's more dialogue driven, as Lumet's movies usually are. It also has some boring scenes as Dr. Strangelove did. Overall it's pretty good too.
December 4, 2010
ajv2688

Super Reviewer

How do more people not know about this movie? It's amazingly good.

I actually screamed holy shit 4 separate times.
February 13, 2008
kenstachnik

Super Reviewer

    1. President: Colonel Grady, this is the President. What you are flying has been caused by a mechanical failure. I order you and your men to fly back at once.
    2. Col. Grady: I am beyond the point of voice commands.
    3. President: Damn it Grady, this is the President.
    – Submitted by Al R (2 years ago)
    1. President: What we'll hear is a sharp high pitched noise. The will be the sound of the Ambassadors phone melting from the fireball.
    – Submitted by Randy G (2 years ago)
View all quotes (2)

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Latest News on Fail-Safe

March 9, 2006:
Trailer Bulletin: Find Me Guilty
Wondering what Vin Diesel's been up to lately? Well, he's been off making a fact-based courtroom...

Foreign Titles

  • Angriffsziel Moskau (DE)
  • Fail-Safe (UK)
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