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 »
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 »
Spanning nearly 40 years from 1925 to 1964, two Texas farm boys; straight-arrow Gid and laid-back Johnny fight over the affections of the beautiful and headstrong Molly Taylor, who ... See full summary »
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 »
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 »
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
With one exception (see goofs entry), all shots of US Air Force "Vindicator" bombers are views of the same Convair B-58 Hustler, taken from a stock piece of film after the Department of Defense declined to cooperate with the filmmakers. See more »
Many of the Air Force officers are wearing non-existent award ribbons on their uniforms, especially in the lower rows. See more »
Defense Secretary Swenson:
The President says he may have to order our fighters to shoot down Group Six. He wants our opinion.
I oppose it, sir, on the grounds that it's premature. Our planes have not yet reached Soviet territory, they're still hundreds of miles away.
Brigadier General Warren A. Black:
We've got to do it, and fast! Right now before it's too late!
It might be too late anyway. Those fighters swung away from the bombers when they got the all-clear signal, they've been flying in opposite directions.
See more »
The Ultimate Moral Dilemma In Superior Cold War Drama
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.
36 of 43 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?