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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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Writers:

(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:

The screen zeros in on the most suspenseful adventure drama of our age! 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:

 »

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

Although the first view of Henry Fonda is a full-body shot of him walking down the hallway, his first closeup is from the back, as he looks over his shoulder with a smile. This is similar to the surprise view of Fonda as the bad guy in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), showing his face for the first time as a young boy is killed. See more »

Goofs

Throughout the film, the U.S. bombers are referred to as Vindicators, when in fact they are B-58 Hustlers. See more »

Quotes

Prof. Groeteschele: Excuse me. Every minute we wait works against us. Now, Mr. Secretary, now is when we must send in a first strike.
Gen. Stark: We don't go in for sneak attacks. We had that done to us at Pearl Harbor.
Prof. Groeteschele: And the Japanese were right to do it. From their point of view, we were their mortal enemy. As long as we existed, we were a deadly threat to them. Their only mistake was that they failed to finish us at the start, and they paid for that mistake at Hiroshima.
Gen. Stark: You're talking about a different kind of war.
Prof. Groeteschele: ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

The sounds of a bullfight crowd is heard in reference to Black's matador dream. Then, the squeal of the Russian ambassador's melted phone which the President stated would be heard when New York City was bombed. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Frightening
22 November 1999 | by See all my reviews

I'm a child of the 1970s, but this movie still scared me. You didn't have to grow up during the 50s or 60s to appreciate this. Anways in the 1980s, when Reagan was in office, nuclear war seemed a very real prospect. This movie is deadly serious, NO humor at all, and lit very sparsely. The battles between Russian and US planes seen as blips on a huge screen, is just as scary as if we had seen it realistically. Frightening, harrowing...hard to believe this film still has that effect now. Well worth watching but it's very very grim. Also, Fonda is superb as the President.


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