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Fail-Safe
Format: DVD|Change
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I've never cared for DR. STRANGELOVE (1964), and Sidney Lumet's FAIL-SAFE is precisely the reason why. FAIL-SAFE is THE Cold War masterpiece, while its predecessor is a clumsy, unamusing and ill-advised Stanley Kubrick work. The chance of nuclear annihilation really exists and is not something to make light of.

In FAIL-SAFE, Henry Fonda is brilliant as President of the United States and Larry Hagman in only his second motion picture is equally superb. It's Hagman's job to interpret what the Soviet premier says to Fonda over the hotline as a group of American bombers with multiple 20 megaton bombs heads towards Moscow, but he must also give impressions of the Russian's feelings and intentions. It's grueling work, and knowing that humanity may be on the brink of extinction is clearly delineated by Hagman, who should've won a Supporting Actor Oscar for his efforts.

In fact, this remarkable drama did not receive a SINGLE Oscar nod.

Near story's end, tension and fear have built to the breaking point, then after an extended agony of suspense, Bang Bang Bang, like a champion boxer landing a trio of rapid-fire blows, events unfold one-two-three and everything ends in utter tragedy. The absolutely avoidable, unthinkable, impossible happens and following one final brilliant bit of quick multiple edits in a 20 second space, the screen goes black.

I was too young to see FAIL-SAFE at a theater, but can easily imagine the effect this ending had on audiences, for it honestly left me stunned. The contemplation of such horrific possibilities especially in these most hazardous times is enervating, sobering, depressing.

So if I have nothing but disdain for DR. STRANGELOVE, now you know WHY.

Parenthetical number preceding title is a 1 to 10 imdb viewer poll rating.

(8.0) Fail-Safe (1964) - Henry Fonda/Larry Hagman/Dan O'Herlihy/Walter Matthau/Fritz Weaver/Frank Overton/Sorrell Booke/Dom DeLuise
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on June 21, 2014
Along with "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold," this is the best cold-war movie I've seen. The novel on which it's based is also excellent. The movie follows the narrative of the novel faithfully, although some of the character development is condensed or omitted. The acting is uniformly excellent, and the pacing and direction by Sidney Lumet is spot on. Look for outstanding performances by Henry Fonda, Walter Matthau, Larry Hagman, and a brief, but memorable appearance by Dom DeLuise in a very serious role.
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on September 17, 2017
53 year old movie still on edge and great entertainment with current World events.
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on April 7, 2017
A classic that continues to raise debate.
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on July 31, 2017
A classic, at a very attractive price.
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This movie terrified me as a child. Does it hold up today? Probably not as well as Dr. Strangelove. And the stupid case gives away the ending before you even watch it! However it is an effective and grim reminder of what we faced in the Cold War. When I watched it again recently, I could recall the fear I felt when I saw it so many decades ago, but it was a memory not a fear induced by the film today.
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on September 8, 2017
Love this movie. Everyone should think long & hard after viewing it.
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on August 19, 2017
A classic at a great price.
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on September 20, 2017
great product, fast shipping
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on January 22, 2007
As a child of the '50s I can remember when the book came out, reading it and being terrified how the world could end at any minute. When the film was released it showed no softening of the message, but the impact was lost due to the release of Kubric's "Dr Strangelove". Somehow Peter Sellers humourous spin on things coupled with the superb final vision of Slim Pickens riding down on the bomb to the sounds of "We'll meet again" just had everyone I know crying with laughter at the stupidity of it all. Surely nobody would let this sort of thing happen, would they?

. Looking at this film again many years later and it seems to have regained it's power to depict the frighteningly easy way in which we can slip into the abyss. The superb acting of Henry Fonda and Walter Mathau bring a terse and well written script to life, with the young Larry Hagman totally believeable as the Presidential interpreter.

As we watch events unfolding in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the race of uncontrollable powers in the Third World to produce and stockpile nuclear weapons along with their delivery systems, "Fail Safes" chilling message becomes as relevant today as it did so many years ago.

Watch this film, then look at our present day political leaders. Apart from the fashions, has anything changed? The starkness of black and white as opposed to colour filmstock only serves to underline the warning that there is no middle way, we have to choose now as we had to choose then.

A superb film that every thinking person will do well to watch and keep alongside "Schindlers List", both as a warning and a lesson.

BUY IT!
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