MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Down 2,675 this week

Fail-Safe (1964)

8.0
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 8.0/10 from 12,959 users  
Reviews: 123 user | 30 critic

American planes are sent to deliver a nuclear attack on Moscow, but it's a mistake due to an electrical malfunction. Can all-out war be averted?

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (from the novel by), 2 more credits »
0Check in
0Share...

Watch Now

From $9.99 on Amazon Instant Video

Editors' Spotlight

Emmy Awards 2014

We have the winners, photos and more in our 2014 Emmys section.


User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 30 titles
created 14 Apr 2011
 
a list of 41 titles
created 19 Oct 2011
 
a list of 36 titles
created 14 Sep 2012
 
a list of 30 titles
created 15 May 2013
 
a list of 26 titles
created 4 months ago
 

Related Items

Search for "Fail-Safe" on Amazon.com

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: Fail-Safe (1964)

Fail-Safe (1964) on IMDb 8/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Fail-Safe.

User Polls

3 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Fail Safe (TV Movie 2000)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Cold War tensions climb to a fever pitch when a U.S. bomber is accidentally ordered to drop a nuclear warhead on Moscow.

Director: Stephen Frears
Stars: Walter Cronkite, Richard Dreyfuss, Noah Wyle
Vu du pont (1962)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Eddie Carbone, a Brooklyn longshoreman is unhappily married to Beatrice and unconsciously in love with Catherine, the niece that they have raised from childhood. Into his house come two ... See full summary »

Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: Raf Vallone, Jean Sorel, Maureen Stapleton
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

Four Jewish intellectuals carpool to the funeral of their old friend Leslie Braverman, who died suddenly at age 41.

Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: George Segal, Jack Warden, Jessica Walter
The Hill (1965)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

In a North African military prison during World War II, five new prisoners struggle to survive in the face of brutal punishment and sadistic guards.

Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: Sean Connery, Harry Andrews, Ian Bannen
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: James Coburn, Lynn Redgrave, Robert Hooks
The Sea Gull (1968)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Film adaptation of Anton Chekhov's story of life in rural Russia during the latter part of the 19th century. An aging actress Arkidana pays summer visits to her brother Sorin and son ... See full summary »

Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: James Mason, Vanessa Redgrave, Simone Signoret
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A British agent sets out to uncover the hidden facts behind a British government employee's suicide.

Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: James Mason, Maximilian Schell, Simone Signoret
The Group (1966)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

It's 1933, and eight young women are friends and members of the upper- class group at a private girl's school, about to graduate and start their own lives. The film documents the years ... See full summary »

Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: Candice Bergen, Joan Hackett, Elizabeth Hartman
Drama | Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

In 1944, Kay and Jane travel on an overnight train from Miami to New York, accompanied by Harry. Kay is the mistress of "The Man", a rich industrialist, whom they are to meet so that they ... See full summary »

Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: Sophia Loren, Tab Hunter, Jack Warden
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A Jewish pawnbroker, victim of Nazi persecution, loses all faith in his fellow man until he realizes too late the tragedy of his actions.

Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: Rod Steiger, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Brock Peters
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

The lawyer Federico Fendi has reasons to believe that his wife Carla in secret is Rome's highest paid prostitute.

Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: Omar Sharif, Anouk Aimée, Didi Perego
Stage Struck (1958)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A young woman arrives in New York City determined to become a great theatrical star, but discovers that her goal may not be as easily attainable as she had hoped.

Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: Henry Fonda, Susan Strasberg, Joan Greenwood
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Colonel Grady (as Ed Binns)
...
...
...
William Hansen ...
Russell Hardie ...
General Stark (as Russell Hardy)
Russell Collins ...
...
Nancy Berg ...
...
Frank Simpson ...
Hildy Parks ...
Edit

Storyline

A series of human and computer errors sends a squadron of American 'Vindicator' bombers to nuke Moscow. The President, in order to convince the Soviets that this is a mistake, orders the Strategic Air Command to help the Soviets stop them. Written by KC Hunt <khunt@eng.morgan.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The screen zeros in on the most suspenseful adventure drama of our age! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

15 January 1965 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

Angriffsziel Moskau  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The view of the satellite zooming into a closer shot is actually film taken from a camera mounted on a captured German V2 rocket launched from White Sands, New Mexico. The film is run backwards to show the illusion of zooming closer to the ground. See more »

Goofs

Many of the Air Force technicians in the command post are wearing leather name tags. Actual name tags of that period were made of rigid blue plastic with white lettering. See more »

Quotes

Prof. Groeteschele: Excuse me. Every minute we wait works against us. Now, Mr. Secretary, now is when we must send in a first strike.
Gen. Stark: We don't go in for sneak attacks. We had that done to us at Pearl Harbor.
Prof. Groeteschele: And the Japanese were right to do it. From their point of view, we were their mortal enemy. As long as we existed, we were a deadly threat to them. Their only mistake was that they failed to finish us at the start, and they paid for that mistake at Hiroshima.
Gen. Stark: You're talking about a different kind of war.
Prof. Groeteschele: ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

[FINAL CREDIT]: The producers of this film wish to stress that it is the stated position of the Department of Defense and the United States Air Force that a rigidly enforced system of safeguards and controls insure that occurrences such as those depicted in this story cannot happen See more »

Connections

Referenced in WarGames (1983) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

The Ultimate Moral Dilemma In Superior Cold War Drama
28 May 2003 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The ultimate moral dilemma confronts the President of the United States when everything goes wrong with the strategic offensive power of a US Air Force bomber squadron, leaving viewers shaken at the end of a superior Cold war drama highlighted by its extraordinary claustrophobia.

Filming of Fail-Safe coincided with filming of Dr. Strangelove, and Stanley Kubrick succeeded in getting his film done first. The earlier publicity for Strangelove hurt Fail-Safe's exposure, and this is doubly disappointing because Fail-Safe is in most ways a superior film, telling its story straight and highlighting superior performances by the entirety of the cast, from Henry Fonda, Frank Overton, Fritz Weaver, and Dan O'Herlihy to a stunningly strong performance by comedian Dom Deluise in a rare dramatic role.

What begins as a routine albiet annoying tour for a visiting Congressman of Strategic Air Command's headquarters in Omaha turns into the ulitmate nightmare. An unidentified aircraft is spotted on a course toward Detroit and airborne bombers are scrambled to fixed points orbiting Soviet Russia until the UFO can be identified. The scramble is routine but this particular one becomes more dramatic as identifying the UFO proves more troublesome than usual, but eventually all is cleared up.

But replacement of a faulty componant in SAC's mainframe briefly flashes the base's plotting board, and activates an attack signal in Bomber Group Six under the command of old-school Colonel Jack Grady (Edward Binns). Attempt to contact Omaha runs into unexpected and mysterious jamming, and the attack signal is verified - Moscow.

It is here that the real nightmare begins, and the President himself must summon Peter Buck (Larry Hagman) down to the underground command shelter in which lies the direct "hotline" oral communication hookup to Soviet Russia's ruling chairman himself. From here the President must coordinate with the Pentagon and SAC HQ to try and stop the bombers, despite endless jamming and the crew's own orders not to answer further contacts.

The actions to stop the bombers drive the drama and bring out the excellence of the cast. Frank Overton is the SAC commanding general whose faith in his systems is shaken by the accident. Fritz Weaver is his XO, driven by shame over his upbringing (shown when he gets into a fight with his alcoholic father before being summoned to SAC HQ) and more likely to crack under the strain. Dan O'Herlihy is a Brigadier General harboring endless doubt about the sagacity of the US strategic arsenal - "We've got to stop war, not limit it," he says, against the better judgement of his peers - who plays a pivotal role in the crisis' outcome.

But even with the excellence of these and others, it is Henry Fonda as the President and Larry Hagman who drive the drama in their hotline conversations with the Soviet chairman; the pivotal angle of these conversations is Peter Buck's whispered comments about the intangibles of the Russian leader's words and expression of them - when the Soviet claims no knowledge of jamming equipment, Buck expresses belief that the Russian is lying - and also his analysis of arguments among the Russian leader's own staff; as the conversations continue on Buck takes on more and more of the role of outright surrogate for the Soviet chairman.

The running battle to stop the bombers leaves the President with a decision that is the only hope, should the bombers succeed, to prevent Russia from a full-scale retaliatory attack that will incinerate the world; the President's decision is of course outrageously implausible in real life but nonetheless works in the context of the film, and leads to a delicious bit of irony at the very end that ties in a bizarre fixation with a matador.

Among the liberties the film takes to tell the story, aside from the hotline telephone (the actual hotline was a teletype transmitter, continuously updgraded over the years), are the types of bombers used and the speed and weapon capability of these craft. Such focus on hardware often hurts dramatic pull, but here it is kept to a minimum and only serves to help move the story along, a nice balance that exemplifies the strength of the story and the performances within.


33 of 39 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Dan O'Herlihy: harmless old man, or left-wing nut? Bob_Schuka
What does 'I hear you five by five' mean? Lukerdog
Would YOU sacrifice New York City ...? blubb06
Did he pick New York because they did not vote for him? sprinter1610
The speed of light is pretty darn fast lanlguy
Scene of a woman watching a missile launch from her mirror? nyredt
Discuss Fail-Safe (1964) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page