Henry Fonda
Director: Sidney Lumet Cast: Henry Fonda
Henry Fonda
, Walter Matthau
Walter Matthau
, Frank Overton
Frank Overton
Sidney Lumet

Blu-ray (Black & White)

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Based on the novel by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler, Fail-Safe is set for the most part at Strategic Air Command headquarters, where a misguided transmission sends a squadron of bombers hurtling towards Russia, fully prepared to drop their atomic weaponry on Moscow. Air Force commander Frank Overton desperately tries to establish radio contact with the bombers, but once the pilots have passed the "fail safe" point, they've been instructed to disregard any reversal of orders. Racing against time, US President Henry Fonda, through his interpreter (Larry Hagman), informs the Russian premiere of the impending nuclear disaster. Working in concert with SAC, the Russians send up interceptors to shoot down the American bombers, while some of the planes run out of fuel and crash. Unfortunately, one aircraft, piloted by Edward Binns, manages to escape destruction and continues on its fatal mission. Realizing that Moscow is doomed, the President must decide how to avert World War III. Featured in the cast of Fail Safe are Walter Matthau as a hawkish scientist, Fritz Weaver as a round-the-bend colonel, and Dom DeLuise (billed as "DeLouise") as a weeping sergeant. Fail-Safe is followed by a government-dictated disclaimer insisting that the events leading up to the nuclear disaster depicted in the film could not possibly happen.

Product Details

Release Date: 01/28/2020
UPC: 0715515240413
Original Release: 1964
Rating: NR
Source: Criterion
Region Code: A
Presentation: [B&W]
Time: 1:52:00
Sales rank: 1,575

Special Features

New 4k digital restoration with uncompressed monaural soundtrack; Audio Commentary from 2000 featuring Director Sidney Lumet; New interview with film critic J. Hoberman on 1960s nuclear paranoia and Cold War films; "Fail Safe" Revisited, a short documentary from 2000 including interviews with Lumet, Screenwriter Walter Bernstein, and actor Dan O'Herlihy; Plus: An essay by film critic Bilge Ebiri

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Henry Fonda President
Walter Matthau Groeteschele
Frank Overton Gen. Bogan
Dan O'Herlihy Gen. Black
Fritz Weaver Col. Cascio
Larry Hagman Buck
Edward Binns Col. Grady
William Hansen Secretary Swenson
Russell Hardie Gen. Stark
Russell Collins Gordon Knapp
Sorrell Booke Cong. Raskob
Dom DeLuise Sgt. Collins
John P. Connell Thomas
Frank Simpson Sullivan
Hildy Parks Betty Black
Janet Ward Mrs. Grady
Nancy Berg Ilsa Wolfe
Dana Elcar Mr. Foster
Stuart Germain Mr. Cascio
Louise Larabee Mrs. Cascio
Frieda Altman Jennie

Technical Credits
Sidney Lumet Director,Producer
Walter Bernstein Screenwriter
Albert Brenner Art Director
Harry Buchman Makeup
J.C. Delaney Set Decoration/Design
Harry Falk Asst. Director
Gerald Hirschfeld Cinematographer
Storyboard Inc Special Effects
Anna Hill Johnstone Costumes/Costume Designer
Charles H. Maguire Associate Producer
Ralph Rosenblum Editor
Max E. Youngstein Producer

Customer Reviews

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Fail-Safe 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
mike-s More than 1 year ago
QAlong the lines of Seven Days in May, Fail-Safe puts the world in a situation that no one wants to deal with. Mainly because the solution to to horrific for either side. Fonda is excellent as the President with Walter Matthau turning in one of his best dramatic performances. A very young Larry Hagman and Fritz Weaver both bring a strong sense of purpose to their roles.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A disturbing film, thought provoking, but, in places, not aging very well. It does represent very neartly the hair trigger anxiety of the Cold War, a topic that the folks on the ground deal with in a marvelously clinical fashion, and with psychological unsettling in the bomber. I suppose the point is forced in places, and I don't want to call this movie mediocre, because it scared me half to death when I saw it - as a kid. Watching it later the grim feel of the movie becomes a little monotonous. Buy it, but also buy Dr. Strangelove if you want the full range.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is what happens when we place more faith in our machines than in our fellow man.Having said that,this is an intense film made to feel even more'real' by the lack of 'mood' music.The final scene is the most poignant I can think of,what with the President and General Black both aware of the sacrifices they will make.And that final countdown... there's no more for me to say.
fredsped More than 1 year ago
During the 60's there was a real chance that someone would "push the button" and fry a good portion of the human race.It is hard to say how close or how many times we came close. "Fail Safe" is the story of the failure of technology that is supposed to protect us. A US bomber gets past its fail safe point and is heading to bomb Moscow. Everything possible is done to stop it. There is a high degree of tension in this movie. It was filmed in black and white which adds to the tension. It has many great actors. I don't want to give away any of the movie, but it is a must see. The most interesting character is played by Walter Matthau. He is a college professor who believes that people like himself are more important than the average citizen and therefore should be saved to help repopulate the human race, because of his superior intelligence.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago