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Fail-Safe (1964)

Approved | | Drama, Thriller | 15 January 1965 (Finland)
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?

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(screenplay), (from the novel by) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

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

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

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Drama | Thriller

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Approved | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

15 January 1965 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

Fail Safe  »

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(RCA)

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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Hal Schaefer wrote a score for the film but director Sidney Lumet decided to release it without any music. However a promotional single by The Hal Schaefer Quintet, "Fail Safe Parts 1 and 2" was released on the Colpix label. There is music on the trailer, and it is probably extracted from Schaefer's score. 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

Prof. Groeteschele: [viciously slapping a beautiful young woman who has tried to seduce him after a cocktail party] I'm not your kind.
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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 Sympathy for the Devil (1968) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Serious As a Crutch
9 April 2007 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Interesting that both Failsafe and Dr. Strangelove both came out in 1964 the year that Barry Goldwater and his candidacy brought up the nuclear issue. After seeing both those films together with the flip comments Goldwater made about nuclear war, he was never to be anything other than a Senator from Arizona.

Everyone remembers Stanley Kubrick's black comedy Dr. Strangelove about a nuclear exchange. Failsafe which is as serious as a crutch is less remembered. Still viewed today it still has an important message, maybe more important now than when it was a bi-polar world. At least everyone then seemed to be on one side or the other.

My favorite performer in this film is Frank Overton who worked mostly in television. On the big screen he's probably best known as the small town sheriff in To Kill A Mockingbird. Though he did a lot of television work until he died in 1967, Failsafe turned out to be his last big screen performance. Overton does a great job as the general in charge of the Strategic Air Command in Omaha who is very reluctantly trying to help the Russians shoot down SAC bombers who've had one squad of them accidentally given the go ahead for nuclear war.

Henry Fonda is the beleaguered president of the United States who is issuing commands from a deep underground bunker beneath the White House with only Russian interpreter Larry Hagman there. The whole claustrophobic atmosphere adds to the desperation of Fonda's performance. By the way note the large closeups of Fonda as he's trying to order the SAC bombers back from their mission.

You might also note in a tiny role at the SAC command center Dom DeLuise in a very serious role as a sergeant. This may be the only time DeLuise ever had a serious part.

At the Pentagon is Defense Department consultant Walter Matthau also in a serious role as a Herman Kahn type, looking to 'win' a nuclear exchange. He's one frightening fellow.

The world is no longer bi-polar, but the lessons of Failsafe have yet to be learned.


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