Great movie from a great book
Eric V. Moye | New York, by way of Dallas | 11/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
D. Blackdeer | Kansas | 02/09/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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 it's 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. The big star in this feature is Henry Fonda as the President; his performance is so convincing that he probably could have run for office. Other standouts are Walter Matthau, the civilian advisor who is the "Devil's Advocate" on the Pentagon staff, and Dan O'Herlihy as "Blacky," an insightful Air Force general and old friend of the President, who is eventually called upon to carry out the President's solution. The other significant player is Frank Overton as the SAC Commander, maintaining order in his headquarters while his air staff border on mutiny while assisting the Soviets in locating the bombers. There is Ed Binns as the bomber pilot, torn between his duties and doubts when the NCA and SAC attempt to recall him over open communication channels. Last but not least is Larry Hagman, who turns in a great performance as the President's translator.
Included on the DVD is a bonus feature about the production of the movie, where the actors and writers discuss the movie's plot and it's similarity with "Dr. Strangelove" that resulted in a lawsuit. They also talk about having to bootleg footage for the aircraft depicted, because of lack of cooperation from the Air Force, resulting in most of the action represented on graphic display screens in the SAC headquarters and the Pentagon. Despite these constraints, they produced a movie that still puts viewers on the edge of their seats as time runs out with the bombers getting closer and closer to their target. The impact of the feature was enough to warrant a special message in the end credits to assure audiences that such an event could never occur."
"Fail Safe" is a legend in its own right
A. G. HORNE | 06/29/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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"
Cold war turns red hot!
borisblank | 08/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A fault in a multi-million dollar nuclear bomber spirals the crew and the world into this tense and exiting cold war thriller. You may have heard the storyline before (Dr. Strangelove) but this film is deeper, darker and deadly serious!Henry Fonda provides a superb performance in this powerful drama which keeps you on the edge of your seat to the very last image on the screen. The tension unfolds minute by minute following the ill-fated crew from the beginning of their routine flight to their terror-filled battle through Soviet airspace towards their target - Moscow! Will they succeed, will they be recalled, will they be shot down? Superb acting and skillful writing combine to produce one of the best (anti) cold war films of our time. Special effects are minimal (compared to todays epics) and the sets are confined mostly to the NORAD Air Force control bunker and the bomber cockpit but never has a film been so effective in its powerful portrayal of tension, suspense, and fear as the President of the United States, the US Air Force and the Russians struggle to try to stop the rogue bomber from starting a nuclear holocaust. Striking black and white photography enhances the film rather than detracts from the experience.Don't miss it!"