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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 (207 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: Multiple Formats, 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 (207 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004XPPE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,531 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

One of the greatest anti-war thrillers ever, FAIL-SAFE stars Henry Fonda, Walter Mathau, Dan O'Herlihy, Larry Hagman and Fritz Weaver (in his film debut) as a group of military men on the verge of World War III. When a military computer error deploys a squadron of SAC bombers to destroy Moscow, theAmerican President (Fonda) tries to call them back. But their sophisticated fail-safe system prevents him from aborting the attack, so he must convince the Soviets not to retaliate. In desperation, the President offers to sacrifice an American city if his pilots succeed in their deadly mission overMoscow. A four-star techno-thriller that builds tension and suspense with every tick of the nuclearclock.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
65 of 69 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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61 of 66 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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33 of 34 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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14 of 15 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 Five Stars
Love this drama
Published 6 days ago by Linda Thurston
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring
Pretty boring. Very disappointed with it. The plot may be good, but the acting is marginal. It progresses at a snail's pace. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Lynda Dunbar
2.0 out of 5 stars I preferred the original Fail Safe with Richard Dryfuss than ...
I preferred the original Fail Safe with Richard Dryfuss than this later version. they are both black and white but the original was more realistic even though it was in a play... Read more
Published 15 days ago by Lyle Bain
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 21 days ago by Duane L. Johns
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best cold war thrillers ever made
Had to have this. One of the best cold war thrillers ever made. Being in black and white made it even more dramatic. The scenario could be played out even today.
Published 22 days ago by Dancer 2
5.0 out of 5 stars because it is an excellent political thriller
Released in the same year as Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove, Fail Safe suffered in comparison with the similarly-themed and more famous film, which had been released first. Read more
Published 1 month ago by John A. Tandlich
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent film!
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great for students
Published 1 month ago by Kenneth Plough II
5.0 out of 5 stars classic movie2
Classic movie.
Published 1 month ago by Norman R Bernstein
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
EXCELLENT! Excellent! Excellent! Excellent!
Published 2 months ago by William Boyd
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