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Fail Safe (DVD)
George Clooney stars as a U.S. fighter pilot mistakenly commanded to start a nuclear war with Russia. Now he must be stopped--at any cost--to avert Armageddon in the chillingly realistic movie Fail Safe. Colonel Jack Grady (Clooney) commands a fighter squadron ordered to destroy Moscow with nuclear warheads as a result of a glitch in a military computer. With the help of a translator named Buck (Noah Wyle), the President of the United States (Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss) must join forces with the Russians to end the deadly threat. If all other efforts fail, the President promises to send one of his most important generals, Warren Black (Harvey Keitel), on a mission that could millions--including both the President's and general's families. Also starring Brian Dennehy and Hank Azaria, this riveting drama, originally broadcast live, shows civilization dangerously close to annihilation despite measures deemed Fail Safe.]]>
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"Fail Safe" was an early 60's novel about a horrific error of miscommunication from Strategic Air Command (SAC) that sends a bomber wing on its way to bomb the Soviet Union. It was made into a 1964 film starring such acting heavyweights as Henry Fonda, Walter Mathau and Larry Hagman. (Note: the book also served as the inspiration for the better known black comedy, "Dr. Strangelove"). In 2000, CBS threw together another heavyweight cast. This group included George Clooney (as the very start of his Hollywood kingpin status), Richard Dreyfuss, James Cromwell, Harvey Keitel and Sam Elliott. It was even introduced by legendary newsman, Walter Cronkite.
The broadcast was filmed in black and white, to recall that bygone era. To facilitate the live broadcast, the producers also built in script and set-design 'fail safes' to keep the narrative flowing if one of the cast members jumped ahead by mistake. The end result was a very compelling Cold War tale that would please fans well-versed in the genre as well as hold the interest of newcomers. (Note: a few months later, CBS took another stab at live television with a remake of "On Golden Pond". It was not as warmly received and CBS ended its attempt at the live television renaissance).
It took many years before the DVD of this version of "Fail Safe" was made available in the United States (it was available almost right away overseas). Still, it was worth the wait to add it to my collection. I recommend other fans of the literature and productions of this era to add it their own libraries.
The first few minutes of "Fail Safe" appear to be slow and mundane, but the pace soon quickens to breakneck speed. Don't look away, don't blink, don't even wipe away your tears; you'll want to watch every moment of this tale. And then brace yourself for the jaw-droppingly shocking ending! This film is a must-see for every movie buff and cinephile out there! Fantastic!