7.3/10
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92 user 15 critic

Fail Safe (2000)

Not Rated | | Drama, Thriller | TV Movie 9 April 2000
Cold War tensions climb to a fever pitch when a U.S. bomber is accidentally ordered to drop a nuclear warhead on Moscow.

Directors:

Stephen Frears, Martin Pasetta (as Martin A. Pasetta Jr.)

Writers:

Eugene Burdick (novel), Harvey Wheeler (novel) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 3 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Walter Cronkite ... Himself - Host
Richard Dreyfuss ... President
Noah Wyle ... Buck
Brian Dennehy ... Gen. Bogan
Sam Elliott ... Congressman Raskob
James Cromwell ... Gordon Knapp
John Diehl ... Col. Cascio
Hank Azaria ... Prof. Groeteschele
Norman Lloyd ... Defense Secretary Swenson
Bill Smitrovich ... Gen. Stark (as William Smitrovich)
Don Cheadle ... Lt. Jimmy Pierce
George Clooney ... Col. Jack Grady
Harvey Keitel ... Brig. Gen. Warren Black
Doris Belack ... Mrs. Johnson
Grant Heslov ... Jimmy
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Storyline

Cold War tensions climb to a fever pitch when a U.S. bomber is accidentally ordered to drop a nuclear warhead on Moscow.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The World on The Brink of Accidental War -- UNFOLDING LIVE!

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 April 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Fail Safe See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

George Clooney's cousin Miguel Ferrer was cast to play Colonel Cascio, but was replaced by John Diehl. See more »

Goofs

At 7:45 Congressman Raskob asks Col. Cascio about the bombs the planes carry. He says they carry missiles and "two, twenty-ton hydrogen bombs". The correct term should be "two, twenty-megaton hydrogen bombs" See more »

Quotes

Gordon Knapp: If you pile all these electronic systems one on top of the other, sooner or later you're going to get a faulty transistor or a damaged rectifier, and then the whole thing just shuts down. Even computers suffer fatigue. They become erratic, they break down, just like overworked people.
Prof. Groeteschele: Excuse me, but you're overlooking one important factor: Humans control those machines. Humans can see an error and correct it.
Gordon Knapp: I'm sorry, sir, but you are misinformed. The fact of the matter is that these machines...
See more »

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User Reviews

Golden Era of Television Returning?
15 April 2000 | by vmcdavidsonSee all my reviews

Haunting in stark black-and-white, "Fail Safe" may not match blow-for-blow the devastating impact the 1964 version made on me, but it came very close.

My respect for George Clooney continues to grow. The former "E.R." hunk pushed for this project to be performed live, and he is proving to be a trailblazer in contemporary television. His family's deep roots in entertainment have given him the insight and passion to champion television of yesteryear. Several seasons back, it was Clooney's lobbying efforts that brought a live performance of "E.R." to the air waves.

This production of "Fail-Safe" was truly exquisite. What a thrill it would be for classic TV/film buffs to have similar live productions air -- scripts used on the 1950s "Playhouse 90" or those penned by Rod Serling, such as "Patterns," would be a good beginning. With the amount of insipid viewing options available today, shaking a little dust off other older quality shows would expose a new generation to the zenith of 1950s and 1960s television. "Fail Safe" was nearly perfect; the Cold War storyline still holds up as riveting drama in the year 2000. And it was all the more effective performed live and in the oft-ignored B/W.

The one disappointing flaw was Richard Dreyfuss in the role of the president. As fine an actor as Dreyfuss is, he was sadly miscast. He lacked the strength and leadership expected of a major world leader. In the original production, Henry Fonda was far more convincing and commanding. Better choices would have been Tommy Lee Jones or Billy Bob Thornton or Edward James Olmos. As the production progressed, I found myself visibly wincing at Dreyfuss's wimpy performance, particularly at the film's final emotional crescendo. He seemed too casual, more whiney, than someone trying to avert worldwide nuclear disaster would be. He came across often as annoyed, rather than alarmed.

However, the other supporting cast members -- George Clooney, Brian Dennehy, Harvey Keitel, Hank Azaria, Noah Wyle, James Cromwell, and Sam Elliott -- were superb in their roles. Wyle was astonishingly effective as the youthful translator -- his performance matched in strength that of a youthful Larry Hagman in the original film.

If you missed seeing "Fail Safe" (2000), buy or rent a video tape of it -- while it won't hold the same magic as seeing it live, seeing it at all is an imperative for those who savor fine television, or just want good, gripping story-telling.


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