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Fail-Safe (1964)

Not Rated | | Drama, Thriller | 1965 (UK)
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:

Sidney Lumet

Writers:

Walter Bernstein (screenplay), Eugene Burdick (from the novel by) | 1 more credit »
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3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Dan O'Herlihy ... Gen. Black
Walter Matthau ... Dr. Groeteschele
Frank Overton ... Gen. Bogan
Edward Binns ... Col. Grady (as Ed Binns)
Fritz Weaver ... Col. Cascio
Henry Fonda ... The President
Larry Hagman ... Buck
William Hansen William Hansen ... Secretary Swenson
Russell Hardie ... Gen. Stark (as Russell Hardy)
Russell Collins ... Knapp
Sorrell Booke ... Congressman Raskob
Nancy Berg Nancy Berg ... Ilsa Wolfe
John Connell ... Thomas
Frank Simpson Frank Simpson ... Sullivan
Hildy Parks ... Betty Black
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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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1965 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Fail Safe See more »

Filming Locations:

USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The President talks to General Black about their Bible studies, and the "sacrifice of Abraham." In Genesis 22:1-19, God commands Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on an altar. Ultimately, God stopped Abraham from going through with the act, unlike the movie, where it was allowed to continue. See more »

Goofs

The Air Force master sergeant supervisor and a few other airmen in the command post are wearing their "U.S." collar insignia incorrectly. In addition, many of the airmen also wear Strategic Air Command shoulder patches on their tan Type 505 or 1505 shirts. In actuality, shoulder patches were not worn with that type of uniform. See more »

Quotes

Gen. Bogan: Sergeant Collins! On the double!
[Collins races to General Bogan at the main communication board of SAC headquarters]
Gen. Bogan: You're backup man on fire control, aren't you?
TSgt. Collins: Yes sir.
Gen. Bogan: Do our Vindicator missiles have both infrared and radar-seeking capacity?
TSgt. Collins: [tentatively] Yes sir.
Gen. Bogan: [grabbing Collins forcefully toward the radio mike] Loud and clear! They've got to know we're on the level!
TSgt. Collins: [fearfully] It has both capacities, sir!
Marshall Nevsky: [Over the radio] Can the radar-seeking mechanism be overloaded by increasing the ...
[...]
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 »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
the only WWIII movie you need to see
16 August 2002 | by claudemercureSee all my reviews

When people talk about a 1964 cold war movie, they're usually referring to Dr. Strangelove. Meanwhile, this intense, nerve-wracking, cleverly written masterpiece has remained largely under-appreciated.

One way to create a powerful drama is to make it feel as real as possible to the audience, and Fail-Safe succeeds marvelously at it. The order of the day on this film shoot must have been 'stark realism'. This agenda manifests itself most effectively in the vivid dream sequence that opens the film, but also in the terse intertitles indicating time and place, in the very contrasty (yes, I made that word up) black-and-white cinematography, in the absence of any musical scoring, and in the solid, unfussy performances by the actors (Henry Fonda and Larry Hagman deserve special mention). Oh yeah, and it's really suspenseful. The devastating ending gave me shivers.

Kudos to director Sidney Lumet, for his uncompromising and artistically daring vision.


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