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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$ 24.00 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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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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Customer Reviews

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 100 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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2.0 out of 5 stars Product was good. Prime was a waste. Feb. 3 2014
By D.W.
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
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.

The only reason I made the order was to get the products in time before I departed. I was actually delayed in going and still did not get some of the overall shipment, and what did arrive was a nightmare to actually get.

So ... Prime was a waste and I hate, Hate, HATE ... I LLOOOOOOOAAAATHHHHeeeeee UPS.

Otherwise, the products were as advertised.
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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..this very large bestseller and much discussed work has much in it, and was adapted to the minds of 1964. Columbia also released Dr Strangelove in this MADD era and Fail SAfe as the documentary tells was not a success? It is a barebones film, there is no romance, there is a slight seen in the begginning with Mathau as the scientist, lost soul(like island of lost soul) but here he harks back to ww2 Germany and the scientific supposed nazi state(which by the way did not try to develop atomic bombs)and actually a very ideologized science bent on conquering the world, and he seems emotionless, scientistic, the man of science devoid of culture and that is the key word. At the start we have awar between the cultures of the workers internationale of communistic russia pitted against american capitalism. These were the two competing ideologies who had the funds to fund huge military machines as a way to secure their state and in the chiefs of staff view ward off fanatic communism? This is the view presented to 1964 audiences? The movie largely consists of a series of jets which are continually on bombing missions to rEd square til warded off by computerized technology..unless due to some emergency the plane is not called off and Russia disintegrated. Here there is a technological error..and Moscow is bombed..and the President must allow the U.S. to be bombed,,and before that scene the film shows kids, nature, and all the pleasent scenes which will be no more? All do to the flickering of buttons, and this is scene in the book more where the technology is explained better and therefore much suspense is built up.. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
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
5.0 out of 5 stars MAD - Mutual Assured Destruction
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... Read more
Published on Sept. 10 2010 by VancouverDougp
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Is it possible...
"Fail-Safe" has often been described as "Dr Strangelove" without the laughs - even in the Amazon review above! Read more
Published on Jan. 20 2003 by Paul Fogarty
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