Fail-Safe - Rotten Tomatoes

Fail-Safe (1964)


No critic reviews yet...

Release Date: Oct 7, 1964 Wide


Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

In this film, a misguided transmission sends a squadron of bombers hurtling towards Russia. 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.

Rating: G
Genre: Drama , Mystery & Suspense , Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Walter Bernstein
In Theaters:
On DVD: Oct 31, 2000
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment


as Groeteschele

as President

as Gen. Black

as Gen. Bogan

as Col. Grady

as Col. Cascio

as Secretary Swenson

as Gen. Stark

as Cong. Raskob

as Ilsa Wolfe

as Sullivan

as Betty Black

as Mrs. Grady

as Sgt. Collins

as Foster

as Mr. Cascio

as Mrs. Cascio
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Fail-Safe

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (2)

Full Review… | June 29, 2011
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The cold war gets hot in this nuclear disaster film.

Full Review… | February 17, 2015
Three Movie Buffs

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

Full Review… | July 3, 2011

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.

Full Review… | July 19, 2007
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

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.

Lanning : )

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.

Pierluigi Puccini

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.

AJ Verser

Super Reviewer

Fail-Safe Quotes

– Submitted by Al R (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Randy G (3 years ago)

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