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Fail-Safe (Special Edition) (1964)

Henry Fonda , Walter Matthau , Sidney Lumet  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (189 customer reviews)

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Fail-Safe (Special Edition) + Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Special Edition)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Henry Fonda, Walter Matthau, Fritz Weaver, Dan O'Herlihy, Frank Overton
  • Directors: Sidney Lumet
  • Writers: Eugene Burdick, Harvey Wheeler, Peter George, Walter Bernstein
  • Producers: Charles H. Maguire, Max E. Youngstein
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Portuguese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Georgian, Thai
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: October 31, 2000
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (189 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004XPPE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,476 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Fail-Safe (Special Edition)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Exclusive Featurette: "'Fail Safe' Revisited"
  • Talent Files (Sidney Lumet, Walter Matthau, Henry Fonda and Larry Hagman)

Editorial Reviews

Henry Fonda, Walter Matthau. The United States government panics when a computer error sends American bombers to nuke Moscow. 1964/b&w/111 min/NR/widescreen.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cold-War Thriller February 9, 2001
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Preceded and overshadowed by the film "Dr. Strangelove," "Failsafe" provides a serious version of a nuclear weapons crisis between the United States and the Soviet Union. The plot in "Failsafe" is remarkably similar to its satrical cold-war counterpart with the National Command Authority having to prevent full scale nuclear war after one its bomber squadrons accidentally receives the "Go" code to strike Moscow. A computer communication malfunction at the US Air Force's Strategic Air Command is the culprit, and within minutes, the President dispatches fighters to shoot down the bombers after his service chiefs recommend the course of action. The fighters are unsuccessful and the President begins working with the Soviet Premier to prevent the bombers from reaching their target. Under the President's orders, SAC is on line with the Soviet High Command to help intercept the bombers. After one of his Air Force generals predicts the likelihood of a bomber getting through, the President seeks a solution to prevent nuclear retaliation, which provides a shocking ending to the story. Stanley Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove" pulls no punches in its humor and portrayal of high-ranking government officials, its comedic treatment leaves viewers with the feeling that such a scenario would never come to life. "Failsafe" on the other hand projects a chilling atmosphere as the leaders and staffs of two major powers come to grips with the crisis, and overcome their cold-war rivalries to solve the problem.

The story is portrayed in four places; the President's bunker, the Pentagon's operations center, the SAC headquarters, and the cockpit of the flight commander leading his bombers into Russia.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TERRIFYING IN 1964, TERRIFYING TODAY July 6, 2006
I've seen this film several times, and it NEVER ceases to scare me... it concentrates on the true power technology holds in the world, and the devastating results that can occur when technological problems arise. An error in our defense system sends an erroneous message to fighter pilots patrolling our airspace, who obey it and head off to bomb Moscow! The situation is handled, if not resolved, with a truly horrifying result.

No shortage of GREAT acting here... Henry Fonda as The President... Larry Hagman as the translator who helps during phone conversations between The President and his Russian counterpart. And Walter Matthau as a Civilian Advisor. As always Matthau is brilliant, as are all the actors. Dom DeLuise appears as one of the techs at the US Air Defense HQ; this is the only "serious" role I've seen DeLuise play.

This film goes further than the mere "technology runs wild" theme; it brings up the frightening questions, "What's REALLY going on up there (or ANYwhere)?" and "What can REALLY happen??"

I recommend this film one-hundred-per-cent.
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60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie from a great book November 19, 2000
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
Most books, even the great ones, unfortunately do not translate well onto the big screen. Fail Safe is a happy exception to the rule.
The story is now two generations old. Mechanical error sends six bombers towards the Soviet Union (remember them? they used to be our one mortal national enemy). The President and the government try all they can to recall them, to no avail.
Emotions understandibly run high. Men get stretched to the breaking point, and some snap. The President makes a terrible sacrifice, to convince the Russians that it WAS an accident. The price of this ticket it incredibly high.
Forget about the comparisons with Dr. Strangelove (which is a great movie in its own right). They belong together only by their contrasting styles.
This movie is chilling in Black & White. You will never think of J.R. Ewing again the same way, after seeing Larry Hagman in the role as the President's translator.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Fail Safe" is a legend in its own right June 29, 1998
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Columbia Pictures released "Fail Safe" around the same time it released "Dr. Strangelove." Unfortunately, "Fail Safe" has lingered in "Strangelove's" shadow. The Peter Sellers' classic has already been inducted into the National Film Registry and was recently named one of the AFI's top 100 films of the century.
"Fail Safe" also deserves such recognition, due to its fine acting and deep subject matter. Like "Strangelove", this movie deals with accidental nuclear war. And that's where the similarities end, because "Fail Safe" is a gut-wrenching drama. Faced with nuclear annihilation once an American bomber strikes Moscow, Henry Fonda, as the President, makes the most difficult decision of his personal and professional life. Look for Larry Hagman, Dom DeLuise, Walter Matthau, and Sorrell Booke in various supporting roles. END
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Piece of Work December 1, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
"Fail Safe," the story of how mechanical failures lead the world to the brink of nuclear war, has to be one of the scariest movies ever made. It's scary because something like that could really happen. The film asks: Is our own cleverness, and urge to be the most powerful in the world, leading to the downfall of our planet? Of coarse, the film doesn't quite answer. We have to decide. We're helped in our decision by a seasoned group of great actors, who play different kinds of military officials and government advisors. Most notable are Walter Matthau as a bloodthirsty Pentagon advisor, and Henry Fonda as a very human president dealing with the fate of humanity on his shoulders. Sidney Lumet gives us a trgic and moving story, and must be commended for not going out of his way for a happy ending.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars U.S. President May Have to Make the "Ultimate Sacrifice" to Save the...
Imagine if, in order to save the United States (and perhaps the entire world) from nuclear armageddon, the President had to kill millions of Americans by destroying a major U.S. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Nutrition Man
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Coldwar Movie
I grew up during the Cold War. I had to do nuclear attack drills at school, and grew up with the Fallout Shelter signs posted at my schools and everywhere else in my town. Read more
Published 22 days ago by M. J. Pratum
5.0 out of 5 stars Scary Reality Even To Today
The counterpoint of Dr. Strangelove. Kbricks comedy/drama, we laugh because we have to. Fail-Safe allows no quarter other than to frighten us into the reality of the modern age... Read more
Published 23 days ago by cmcc
5.0 out of 5 stars The Unthinkable, as Captivating Movie Viewing...........
As enjoyable and relevant today as when I first saw it back in the 60's. Interesting performance by Walter Mathau, surprisingly good performance by Larry Hagman and Henry Fonda is... Read more
Published 26 days ago by Michael V. Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars A Riveting - And Still Very Relevant - Cautionary Tale
As does his big-screen debut, "12 Angry Men" (1957), Sidney Lumet's "Fail-Safe" continues to speak volumes today -- a half-century after its release. Read more
Published 1 month ago by AJ Averett
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling stuff!
This is one of the best films ever made on the threat of accidental nuclear war during the Cold War with the former Soviet Union, coming out barely two years after the Cuban... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Tom Lund
5.0 out of 5 stars Fail Safe Special Edition
This is a classic motion picture with outstanding actors that held true to the original novel that I'd read as a teen. Read more
Published 1 month ago by S. Nakamura
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Old Movie
Henry Fonda in a great role during the cold war. Walter Matthau as a war monger. The movie will keep you interested.
Published 1 month ago by JRH
4.0 out of 5 stars Timeless
Well wriiten, directed, and acted. Despite the passing of the Cold War and the USSR, it remains a cautionary tale about advancing technology and the difficulty of human control.
Published 2 months ago by Michael P. McGee
4.0 out of 5 stars Old but good.
Another techno thriller that , is still in place today, but far more sophisticated. Remember it is about 50 years old.. The technology today is far more sophisticated.
Published 2 months ago by HERMAN
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