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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?

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(screenplay), (from the novel by) | 1 more credit »
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United States military leaders plot to overthrow the President because he supports a nuclear disarmament treaty and they fear a Soviet sneak attack.

Director: John Frankenheimer
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Fredric March
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Gen. Black
... Dr. Groeteschele
... Gen. Bogan
... Col. Grady (as Ed Binns)
... Col. Cascio
... The President
... Buck
William Hansen ... Secretary Swenson
... Gen. Stark (as Russell Hardy)
... Knapp
... Congressman Raskob
Nancy Berg ... Ilsa Wolfe
... Thomas
Frank Simpson ... Sullivan
... 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:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1965 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Fail Safe  »

Filming Locations:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This is the first film in which Henry Fonda plays the President of the United States. He would later do so again in Meteor (1979). See more »

Goofs

Before the bombers enter Soviet airspace the fighters that attempt to shoot them down change type to include F-101s, F-102s and F-104s. 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.
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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

Featured in The Lady with the Torch (1999) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Superior Cold War drama
10 February 2004 | by See all my reviews

I was thoroughly in suspense throughout this magnificent film. I almost felt as if I was watching World War III unfurl like the Gulf War did on CNN, it was that convincing. Fonda as the President and Matthau as the Professor, in truly memorable performances, are superb in their roles and indeed the entire cast is strongly competent. Besides the unforgettable ending, by way of the President's unthinkable concession, are the arguments and attitudes of the Professor and Colonel Cascio. At the time it must have been very tempting to many hawks in Cold War administrations to end the deadlock whenever a seemingly decisive opening presented itself. I strongly recommend this film for its believablity and realism and even the final credits! 10/10.


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