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Fail:Safe (Special Edition) (Bilingual)

Henry Fonda , Walter Matthau , Sidney Lumet    DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 25.53 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Fail:Safe (Special Edition) (Bilingual) + Dr. Strangelove: Special Edition (Bilingual)
Price For Both: CDN$ 35.51

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It's Dr. Strangelove, but without the laughs. Fail Safe, made within a year of Strangelove and at the height of cold war atomic anxiety, posits a similar nightmare scenario. A U.S. bomber is accidentally ordered toward Moscow, ready to drop its load. The U.S. president (Henry Fonda) and various military and congressional leaders must then scramble to deal with the disaster. The built-in suspense is well maintained by director Sidney Lumet, working from a script by former blacklisted writer Walter Bernstein. The solemn, serious approach doesn't begin to touch the brilliance of Strangelove's inspired take on the nuclear nightmare, but Fail Safe is absorbing and well acted (a memorable role for Walter Matthau, for instance). The movie enters unexpected territory in its final minutes; conditioned for feel-good endings, viewers are still genuinely shocked by the plot turns in the final reels. The climax comes as a sobering slap in the face, intriguingly staged by Lumet. Now that the cold war has passed on into history, Fail Safe stands as--thank goodness--an interesting period piece. --Robert Horton

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Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fail-Safe timeless March 29 2004
By A Customer
Propaganda writes: "This film is interesting only in the fact that it is an odd relic of anti-Cold War propaganda; a pacifist film touting a suicidal philosophy of disarmament. Its particularly ironic that the smugness of the film's creators is now quite laughable in the hindsight of history. Despite all the dire predictions this film makes, thirty years later the U.S. would ultimately win the Cold War against the Soviet Union... and without a nuclear shot being fired in anger."
Respectfully, I disagree. The film does not tout disarmament. The theme of the film, which runs throughout, is that the machines 'are too fast', the military systems have the great potential to fail, and that our mutual distrust of what we don't understand (our enemies) which lead us to create situations of conflict with each other, which end in needless, tragic, destruction. This is a theme that runs throughout the events of history, that is what makes Fail-Safe timeless.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Technology exceeds our grasp July 4 2006
By bernie TOP 50 REVIEWER
We are at the height of the cold war. We use assured mutual destruction to keep the commies at bay. The main defense is the use of strategic bombers to deliver nuclear weapons. In the event of a perceived thereat we send the bombers to points called Fail-Safe. From there if the thereat is determined to be real the president gives the go signal in a coded message. At a further point there is no recall.

What if the recall signal was jammed?

We are now faced with many questions that move from the theoretical.

Is it a trick?

Will the Ruskies believe it is an accident?

Should we take the first strike initiative?

Is mutual destruction assured?

In today's world it is easy and common place to imagine some artificial intelligence that we have ceded authority to taking over for malevolent or even levolent purposes. We have every type of movie from "2001" (1968) with the HAL 9000 to "The Forbin project" (1970) with Colossus.

This film however is a lot spookier because it is played out with what looks like could be a real scenario. It also looks like it could have been a play as the action is mostly dialog that takes place in two rooms and the interior of a strategic bomber. It has a claustrophobic feel with the black and white with odd placed lighting.

There are many fine actors in this film. One surprisingly strong performance was by Larry Hagman as Buck the interpreter for the President. The survival of the world hinged on his facial expressions as he had to interpret not just the words but the attitude of the Soviet Premier.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!! July 1 2004
I've seen this movie at least 10 times, always on late night TV, and it still gets me every time. Right up until the last minute your'e hoping that all will turn out well, but of course it doesn't. It's curtains for 1964 New York, with it's World's Fair, Ed Sullivan, the Peppermint Lounge and My Fair Lady. Previously Moscow of course meets a simular horrible fate. But what a fantastic movie, full of drama and suspense. I'll never forget the reaction when the first plane is shot down, and the man who reminds them "That wer'e not at a football match" There are so many powerful scenes throughout the movie, too many to list here. It deserved a lot better recognition that what it got at the time. See it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars MAD - Mutual Assured Destruction Sept. 10 2010
A highly recommended cold-war period piece that artfully tells the story of humanity's dance with a weapon they invented but, thankfully, learned they could not use - the thermonuclear bomb. Walter Mathew does a fantastic, but somewhat over the top, rendition of Herman Kahn (author of the book 'On Thermonuclear War') advising the US president (played perfectly by Henry Fonda) when the unthinkable happens. Kahn's theory was that MAD ( the doctrine of mutual thermonuclear destruction) was .. well ... mad ... and proposed that planning for a limited, tactical and non thermonuclear but still nuclear theatre of war was better than planning for the end of the world. His doctrine I think won and us living in the 21st century is proof to the old school axiom of 'hope for the best but prepare for the worst.' This is the heart of 'Fall Safe' in my opinion. Weapons so destructive that they can't be purposefully used. When they do get accidentally unleashed however it's mankind's humanity and sacrifice that arrests armageddon. A near perfect movie.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Is it possible... Jan. 20 2003
"Fail-Safe" has often been described as "Dr Strangelove" without the laughs - even in the Amazon review above! - well, as much as I'm a huge fan of "Strangelove," I feel that this description does "Fail-Safe" a terrible disservice. In "Strangelove" Kubrick took the Cold Ward doctrine of MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction, and turned it into a megaton black farce, whereas "Fail-Safe" takes the same concept and presents it as frighteningly banal reality. And it's this very ordinariness that makes "Fail-Safe," in my humble opinion, the superior and far more chilling film.
The basic set-up is simple; it's the early 1960's and the Cold War is pretty frosty. During the standard investigation of a UFO by the military, a possible incursion into US airspace by the Soviets, the nuclear bombers that are always in the air are sent towards their "Fail-Safe" points, about which they orbit while waiting to be sent to their targets if the UFO turns out to be a pre-emptive attack by the USSR. The alert turns out to be false, an off-course commercial airliner instead of the Red Hoards, and the various flights are recalled. But a technical error occurs, and one flight of 6 aircraft, armed with multiple 20 megaton nuclear weapons, passes beyond its "Fail-Safe" point and heads towards it's assigned target of Moscow.
What happened?! Is this a deliberate act of aggression on behalf of the USA, or is it a "glitch" as they claim, or are they running a double bluff, disguising an act of war as a technical error, or has the situation been engineered by the Russians as a pretext for a devastating counter strike; what are the Americans and the Russians to do, can they possibly trust each other? These are the central questions of the film.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Product was good. Prime was a waste.
I received the product, but the whole 'get it within the next 48 hours using Prime' was a bogus as one could endure. Days turned into well over a week and some. Read more
Published 8 months ago by D.W.
4.0 out of 5 stars Cold War film of capitalism vs communism seems so long ago
Here we have a good cast in 1964's Fail-safe or failure safe..can we say that of any technological device? Perhaps the odds are against it.. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Anthony Marinelli
4.0 out of 5 stars "Fail-Safe (1964) ......
Columbia Pictures presents "FAIL-SAFE" (1964) ~ (112 min/B&W) ~ Starring: Henry Fonda, Dan O'Herlihy, Walter Matthau, Frank Overton, Edward Binns, Larry Hagman & Fritz Weaver... Read more
Published on Nov. 11 2011 by J. Lovins
In 1965, a serious nuclear movie called "Fail Safe" was released. Henry Fonda is the President. A computer glitch launches The Bomb for the U.S.S.R. Read more
Published on June 6 2004 by Steven R. Travers
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good for the period
Very good at keeping your attention. Interesting to see so many great actors in one movie and still young. An excellent flix.
Published on Oct. 19 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars We needed this film
I wasn't even born when this film came out. I believe FAIL-SAFE is one of the most important films of it's time. And, all too real for it's day. Read more
Published on Sept. 4 2003 by slider
2.0 out of 5 stars Propaganda
This film is interesting only in the fact that it is an odd relic of anti-Cold War propaganda; a pacifist film touting a suicidal philosophy of disarmament. Read more
Published on May 24 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Drama!!
Though I liked Dr. Strangelove more, this film is still a powerful, on the edge of your seat thriller. Henry Fonda gave an unforgetable performance as the president under fire. Read more
Published on March 29 2003 by smoothjazzandmore
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