MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Down 1,429 this week

Fail Safe (1964)
"Fail-Safe" (original title)

Approved  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Thriller  |  15 January 1965 (Finland)
8.0
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 8.0/10 from 13,762 users  
Reviews: 130 user | 33 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 $2.99 on Amazon Instant Video

ON DISC

IMDb Picks: May

Visit our IMDb Picks section to see our recommendations of movies and TV shows coming out in May, sponsored by COVERGIRL.

Visit the IMDb Picks section

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 24 titles
created 20 Jun 2011
 
a list of 25 titles
created 19 Mar 2013
 
a list of 23 titles
created 19 Apr 2014
 
a list of 27 titles
created 2 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
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
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

After winning a game show contest, a newlywed couple travels to New Orleans where the husband seeks to collect back his ancestral plantation mansion from his biracial step-brother.

Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: James Coburn, Lynn Redgrave, Robert Hooks
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
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
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
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
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
Lovin' Molly (1974)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

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 »

Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: Anthony Perkins, Beau Bridges, Blythe Danner
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:

It will have you sitting on the brink of eternity! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

15 January 1965 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

Fail Safe  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Columbia Pictures produced both this movie and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964). Director Stanley Kubrick insisted his movie be released first, and it was, in January 1964. When Fail Safe (1964) was released, it garnered excellent reviews, but audiences found it unintentionally funny because of "Strangelove", and stayed away. Henry Fonda later said he would never have made this movie if he had seen "Strangelove" first, because he would have laughed too. See more »

Goofs

When the fighters count down to light off their afterburners to try to catch up with the bombers, the shot where they light off their afterburners is actually a shot of the fighters launching missiles as you can see the missiles streak ahead of the fighters. See more »

Quotes

Defense Secretary Swenson: The President says he may have to order our fighters to shoot down Group Six. He wants our opinion.
Prof. Groeteschele: 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!
Gen. Stark: 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 »

Crazy Credits

introducing Fritz Weaver See more »

Connections

Featured in Mister President (2008) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Brilliant
25 November 2001 | by (Korea) – See all my reviews

I saw this movie via two instances of serendipity. First I just happened to be living in an area that offered The Disney Channel in the basic cable package (which is all I ever get) and that as a Bruce Springsteen fan I was excited that the Disney Channel was going to broadcast a special concert short on The Boss. Of course I'm an older Springsteen fan, so instead of staying up late to watch it I just put a tape in and pressed record. The next day I enjoyed the concert, but forgot to hit stop when it ended. What followed next was "Fail Safe". After a few minutes it caught my interest, and now is one of my favorite films.

I'm not sure if this was a precursor to "Strangelove" or vice versa, for they are both listed as 1964 releases. Oddly they both have the same texture about them which leads me to believe that there was more than coincidence in their respective productions. Both are piece de resistances in Cold War studies. The main sundering is that where "Strangelove" excels in parody, "Fail Safe" is rich in tension.

Of course an anxious film about nuclear war on the brink can easily invoke tension (remember "War Games"?), but this film exceeds a good plot. The filmmakers use a backdrop of soceital depravity to create neurasthenia and presentiment; as shown by the strange and erotic scene with Walter Matthau and the woman in the car (kind of a mass-sadisim, lust thing) and the implied domestic violence in the apartment scene. The movie is also deliciously philosophical (the clever "criminals and file clerks will survive" theory) as well as adroit phsycological character development for all the main characters.

The picture is also darkly filmed, remarkedly minimalist and low-budget as if to show the limits of technology, in order to symbolize the sophistry of our trust in it. BTW I love the Matthau character's (the political science professor) line as he explains the faults of missles that have no human intuition. "The rockets have the defect of their virtues" he says in explaining how they cannot make a conscious decision to abort after receiving an order. But the message in this film is clear; even if technology breaks down it is only a symptom of our doom, ultimately it is humans who are responsible.


15 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
I don't buy one of the underlying premises in the film robert3750-92-607013
Dan O'Herlihy: harmless old man, or left-wing nut? Bob_Schuka
The Vindicator Jetfire1959
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
Discuss Fail Safe (1964) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page