Fail Safe (1964)


“Mr. Secretary, I am convinced that the moment the Russians know bombs will fall on Moscow, they will surrender. They know that whatever they do then, they cannot escape destruction. Don’t you see, sir, this our chance. We never would have made the first move deliberately, but Group 6 has made it for us, by accident. We must take advantage of it – history demands it. We must advise the President not to recall those planes.” – Prof. Groeteschele

Number of Times Seen – 1 (25 Nov 2020)

Brief Synopsis – After a malfunction, The President must try and find a way to stop a bomber carrying a nuclear  payload from dropping its cargo on Moscow.

My Take on it – This is a film that I’ve bee interested in seeing for years, and finally had the opportunity to do so.

The story is hinged completely on the dialogue which fuels the flames of the story as things get more and more tense.

The dialogue also is able to develop these characters so well so that we ca get a clearer understanding about the debate that rages on between the characters.

Each of them have varying viewpoints and opinions on everything that transpires and that helps make things even more intense to watch unfold.

The cast is amazing and the two standouts are Walther Matthau in a very dramatic role and Henry Fonda as The President trying to do all he can to avert an even larger catastrophe that seems to get more and more out of control as things move along.

This is a story that was probably much more effective when it came out during The Cold War, but it still works really well over 55 years later.

Bottom Line – Great suspense thriller that is fueled solely by the dialogue. The characters are developed really well and allow us to get an understanding of the various opinions and viewpoints of each of them along the way. The cats is superb with Fonda giving a standout performance as The President who does all he can to try and diffuse the situation that keeps getting more and more out of hand. This film was probably much more effective during the height of The Cold War, but still works really well now. Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Columbia Pictures produced both this movie and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964). Director Stanley Kubrick insisted his movie be released first, and it was, in January 1964. When Fail Safe (1964) was released, it garnered excellent reviews but audiences found it unintentionally funny because of “Strangelove”, and stayed away. Henry Fonda later said he would never have made this movie if he had seen “Strangelove” first, because he would have laughed, too.  (From IMDB)

Rating – Globe Worthy (8/10)

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