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Fail Safe
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Reviews & Ratings for
Fail Safe (TV) More at IMDbPro »

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

George Clooney and this phenomenal cast do an Excellent job! First Rate!

10/10
Author: kubrick4277 from Home
9 April 2000

I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing the original "Fail Safe" with Walter Matthau and Henry Fonda, but I was exceptionally pleased with this version. It was chilling. It was thrilling. I never thought that a TV movie could have me on the edge of my seat! George Clooney and Harvey Keitel gave one of their best performances since they last worked together on "From Dusk Till Dawn." I hope this has a repeated viewing so that people can see how great this was. It takes a lot of talent to do a live broadcast of a movie and these actors used their talents in stride! I could watch this over and over again. George Clooney was a genius to decide to do this. I hope it does well in the Nielsen's!

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Numbing Drama-Thriller

10/10
Author: wig2160 from Detroit, Michigan
19 December 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

--Contains spoilers-- Excellent mind numbing drama-thriller, a must see film for everyone. Superb acting, from a fabulous cast. Fail Safe tugs at your very core and evokes emotions from love to the vary basic instincts of survival and extreme sacrifice in a climax that will not disappoint. There are many many emotional moments in this film ,but near the end ,when the Airforce pilots son is pleading to his own father not to proceed with his mission, a mission that has been en-grained in his soul to complete no matter what the cost is perhaps the most heart wrenching moment I have experienced in film. I watched this with a heavy heart and was so engrossed that I just sat there at the end of the movie numb from its effects, now thats a great movie.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

quality TV, for a change

10/10
Author: Sam_Gray from Auburn, AL
26 April 2000

It's taken me a while to get around to commenting on this, but I have to say, this is the best thing to have hit TV in a long time. I can't remember the last time I thought that any feature-length, made for TV product was actually good. Knowing that this was done live only impresses me more.

And I've got a say, I've never been a big fan of George Clooney. I've never much watched ER, and From Dusk Till Dawn and Batman & Robin both left a bad taste in my mouth. But, knowing the prominent role Clooney played in getting this on TV, I'd actually be interested to see what he does next. This is that good.

If Fail Safe ever comes on TV again, I'll surely record it. I'd advise you to do the same. 10/10

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Great LIVE TV. WOW!!!!

10/10
Author: Pat1973 (whitetigerpat@webtv.net) from Frankfort Illinois
9 April 2000

All I can say is was live and ready to go. From start to finish it was suspenceful and very edgy and entertaining. There were no mistakes in this great tv event. The acting was flawless and exciting. The drama of this heart pounding story was about fighter pilots bombing Russia. It was a war story true and through. I highly recommend this great tv movie. All I can say is it's so honest and very scary to even think about this even happening. Just watch and see this great acted film. I can't wait till it's on DVD. For now it was on CBS channel 2 on April 9th. It's been 39 years since a live tv event has happened. It was great. All I can say is just watch! Staring George Clooney, Don Cheadle, Harvey Keitel, Richard Dreyfuss, Noah Wyle, Sam Elliott, Hank Azaria, Brian Dennehy, James Cromwell and John Diehl, and directed by Stephen Frears.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

BONZER (and depressing)

Author: BlueEyes-6 (aharris@tpmc.com) from Cary, North Carolina
12 April 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was one of the lucky East Coasters to watch this live - I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I was EXHAUSTED at the end. Even though I knew how it would end, the journey to that point was stressful. (I felt the same about "Arlington Road".)

Some of the other commentators mentioned how dated the subject matter was - I strongly disagree, especially given the "laundry list" of countries at the end *known* to have nuclear capability, and volatile enough to chuck it all.

As to the performances... I think Richard Dreyfuss was too snippy and not commanding enough as President (I haven't seen the original "Fail Safe" to compare his performance with Fonda's), but all the other actors did a fine job.

POSSIBLE SPOILER. The only question I have is: As the only person who could prevent the bomb from being dropped on Moscow, why did Col. Grady (Clooney's character) still go ahead with it after talking with his son? His face told all - he KNEW it was his son, and not the Russians trying to trick him. As a parent, I know what my instinct would be.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Less Is More

Author: sora-2 (sora@interaccess.com) from Chicago, IL
12 April 2000

What I liked best about the live version of Fail Safe was that the restrictions of live TV forced the filmmakers to concentrate on those two old-fashioned values: acting and writing. Without the opportunity to edit or use fancy visuals, director Stephen Frears was forced to keep his camerawork and pacing crisp, simple, and efficient. As a result, the actors were really allowed an opportunity to shine. Every line of dialogue had to be well-delivered, and every gesture and facial expression had to be meaningful. The absence of music, black and white photography, and slow pacing allowed time to steadily absorb what was going on and churn it about in my mind; and I loved every minute of it.

Admittedly, the story of Fail Safe seems a bit dated in the post Cold War period, and the originally film itself paled in comparison to the similar Dr. Strangelove. But as an experiment in the art of storytelling, it was a triumph. The best qualities of watching a live play married with the television's ability to reach mass audiences.

I'm hoping that this does signal a resurgence in live TV, because it opens up real possibilities for what the medium could be used for. For one, it forces both directors and actors to all be just a little smarter and more alert - no opportunity to fix mistakes. It makes them more self-consciously aware that the folks at home better be entertained or at least interested in what goes on onscreen.

I'm hoping that next CBS or some other network experiments with some original live fare. After all, back in the 50's, live TV produced some great scripts, some of which were re-made into movies (Marty, Requiem for a Heavyweight) and made the careers of people like writer/producer Rod Serling and actors like Paul Newman.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Amazing.....scary and fascinating....

9/10
Author: OzMuzza (murrayh@technology.net.au) from Sydney, Australia
10 April 2000

I just watched this movie, 12 hours after the US did, in Australia, and I thought this movie held dramatic tension like few other movies I have seen. Powerful performances from some fine actors, and in the electricity of live television, they held me spellbound for two full hours. This dealt with a very real possibility - just as "The China Syndrome" did, two weeks before Three Mile Island, and "The Day After" - they made people aware, and woke them up. My only wish is that more promotion had been done, and it wasn't pitted against Buffy - more people should have seen this.

The concept of live-to-air must be very difficult, but I thought it was handled very well. The use of B&W worked too, to set the scene for the mid-50s to 60s period.

In all, a well-crafted piece of dramatic television, which should turn some heads come September, Emmy time.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Great tv movie...reminiscent of old 1950's live tv! SPOILERS

Author: LONE SOLO from Floyd Montana
10 April 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

FAIL SAFE is one of those rare made for tv projects that takes your breath away. I enjoyed this feature a lot. One thing that was so impressive was that it was LIVE and had all the flair and feel of a movie that had done 7 or 8 takes of each scene. I still have a hard time grasping that it was live.....What a accomplishment. This film is a Cold War thriller about the on set of a accidental nuclear war. A B-52 strike wing doesn't get it's recall orders following a false nuclear alert, in fact, due to faulty equipment it gets the order to proceed to it's target which is Moscow. The President of the United States and the staff of Cheyenne Mountain try desperately to stop the squadron of bombers that threaten to send the world on a collision course with a atomic war. Richard Dreyfuss plays a President that must possibly sacrifice New York (a city his wife is visiting) to appease the Soviets who may lose Moscow. George Clooney plays the USAF B-52 pilot who is tasked with bombing Moscow and follows orders not to listen to voice communications telling him to go home. He's following procedure....he doesn't know the attack order was a phony and thinks the guys on the radio are Russians trying to trick him. This is a great thriller featuring the likes of NOAH WYLE, BRIAN DENNEHY, JOHN DIEHL, HARVEY KIETEL, etc. I highly recommend this movie.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

I was impressed.

Author: Dr. Cosmo; Esq. (drcosmo@tw-zone.com) from Ground Zero
10 April 2000

This adaptation of Eugene Burdick's novel as a teleplay was well-acted, cleverly shot, and, for a live TV performance, brilliantly staged and directed. I was very impressed with Richard Dreyfuss's performance as the President. His inflection, staging, and phrasing echoed that of Henry Fonda's, sometimes eerily so. Noah Wyle's portrayal of Buck (the Interpreter) was a classic "deer-in-the-headlights" performance fitting for those scenes. The War Room and Pentagon scenes clearly reflected the atmosphere of a 1960s Cold War crisis unfolding with the performances capturing the paranoia and uncertainty with uncanny clarity. Keitel's General Black was not as sad or burdened as Dan O'Herlihy's but the gravity of the situation was not lost on him. Nor on Dennehey's General Bogen. Hank Azaria's Groeteschele wasn't quite as over-the-top as Matthau's, but made its point. The cockpit crew (Clooney, Cheadle) were a bit too subdued, IMHO, however, when the nukes are dropped on Moscow, the editing goes into high gear. The cuts between the crew show only their eyes, no mouths, while they speak. The high pitch tone of the melting phones is played as the camera cuts between the President's room, the War Room, and the Pentagon. Even as a jaded TV viewer of many decades, I found myself riveted, stunned. It was a great TV moment. This broadcast single-handedly renewed my faith in contemporary TV. Can we expect to see a live broadcast of Seven Days in May or the Manchurian Candidate in glorious B&W soon?

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Amazingly done

9/10
Author: werhand
9 April 2000

Fail Safe was an amazing piece of work. By performing it live, on network television, gave the movie an extra edge; unlike the live ER episode, the actors couldn't bluff their way through their lines. The all-star cast proved their excellence as actors and rarely slipped up. The 60s feel was there, from the black and white filming to the chain smoking of the actors.

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