Ready or Not
Forgot your password?
Don't have an account? Sign up here
Got more questions about news letters?
Already have an account? Log in here
and the Terms and Policies,
and to receive email from Rotten Tomatoes and Fandango.
Please enter your email address and we will email you a new password.
We encourage our community to report abusive content and/ or spam. Our team will review flagged items and determine whether or not they meet our community guidelines.
Please choose best explanation for why you are flagging this review.
Thank you for your submission. This post has been submitted for our review.
Sincerely, The Rotten Tomatoes Team
Incidentally imperfect, but perfect in its essence. A singular, unforgettable experience. A tragedy of Greek purity. Everyone . . . everyone was doing what they thought was right.
This is one of the most impressing films I've ever seen. Fonda, O'Herlihy, Hagman, Overton give masterful performances. Matthau's performance adds the eat of overcoming an unsympathetic script. (One of the weaknesses in this masterpiece is its willingness to flatten its "villains." Matthau smashes through this, poor Fritz Weaver is given little to work with and the result is a character only an ideologue could credit.)
Fail Safe was, by far, the superior movie concerning the realities of the cold war circa 1964. At an earlier point in time, the proceedings explicated in the movie could certainly have happened. The threat of a nuclear World War III were ever present in the 1960s.
The best thrilling movie ever made!
Fail-Safe is a fantastic film. It is about American planes that are sent to deliver a nuclear attack on Moscow, but it's a mistake due to an electrical malfunction. Walter Matthau and Henry Fonda give excellent performances. The screenplay is good but a little slow in places. Sidney Lumet did a great job directing this movie. I enjoyed watching this motion picture because of the drama and mystery. Fail-Safe is a must see.
An almost shot-for-shot twin of Dr Strangelove, but instead of black farce Sidney Lumet approaches the terrifying scenario of nuclear annihilation with cool detachment and it pays off in spades. Macho posturing - best illustrated by Walter Matthau's hawkish certainty - contrasts with Henry Fonda's stricken President, bunkered with just his translator (Larry Hagman), a jug of water and a hotline to Moscow. Absolutely riveting and still relevant.
People talking about bombs.
This movie is intense, brilliantly acted, and very understated. As a result, it also feels very realistic... and terrifying.
It is the early-mid-1960s and the Cold War is at its peak. An intruder on US radar sends US nuclear-armed bombers to their standby points just outside Russia - their Fail-Safe points. The alert turns out to be a false alarm and the bombers are stood down. However, due to a mechanical error one group of six supersonic bombers is ordered to proceed to its target - Moscow. Desperate to avoid World War 3 the US does everything to prevent the bombers reaching their target, including helping the Russians shoot them down. It becomes a race against time and mistrust with the fate of the world at stake.
1964 gave us the greatest movie on Cold War paranoia and the lunacy involved in the nuclear arms race. It was a rather funny and satirical movie with a very powerful and serious message. Directed by the great Stanley Kubrick it had Peter Sellers in three different roles and included an iconic image involving Slim Pickens. I am, of course, referring to Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Stop Worrying And Learned To Love The Bomb (Dr. Strangelove for short).
Fail-Safe was released in the same year and, while it covers many of the same themes and even has a similar plot, it is not in the same league as Dr. Strangelove. Using humour to convey the lunacy of the situation, Dr. Strangelove conveyed its message effortlessly and entertainingly, even subtly, while still retaining the direness of the situation. Fail-Safe resorts to soapboxing speeches and cartoon villains to get its message across.
Not that Fail-Safe is bad - it is still very intriguing and tension-filled. However, many of the scenes and characters are incredibly irritating. Walter Matthau's Professor Groeteschele has to be one of the most one-dimensional, cartoon-like characters in all of cinema history.
Add in a very implausible, contrived solution to the crisis and you feel cheated out of seeing what could have been a very powerful, realistic drama.
Overall: interesting and watchable, but only just. The US-Russia negotiations, the air battle scenes and the intrigue make for good watching. Any scenes involving Walter Matthau/Professor Groeteschele make you think of switching off.
I cannot recommend this movie enough! It was one of the best watching experiences I've had in a very long time. It's such a shame that this movie came out in the shadow of Dr. Strangelove, which essentially has the exact same plot. However, Stale-Mate delivers the same story with such earnestness that you cannot help but look past the fact that you've seen this movie before. The tension is painful, the agony and helplessness of the characters is so relatable to the viewer that the feeling of hopelessness almost brought me to tears. If you love cinema, especially forgotten or overlooked masterpieces, you owe it to yourself to watch this.
"Fail-Safe" is a tense black-and-white film about the military and diplomatic maneuvering of President Henry Fonda as he struggles to avert a nuclear holocaust. "Fail-Safe" was made over fifty years ago, but because it was directed by master Sidney Lumet, it still has the power to keep this retiree on the edge of his seat just as much as when he first saw it as a teen.
Some classify this movie as a Cold War thriller, but its scope is wider. "Fail-Safe" concerns itself with the horror of technology gone haywire. Thus, it has much in common with all Frankenstein and all zombie movies, as well as with "Ex Machina," "War Games," "2001: A Space Odyssey," and "Robocop."
How much of "Fail-Safe" is Hollywood fantasy? In 1964 were there really attack plans that after a minimal amount of time had absolutely no abort option? If so, this one-man-jury finds the architects of such technology guilty of the ultimate war crime: Stupidity in the First Degree.