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Fail Safe (7-Oct-1964)

Director: Sidney Lumet

Writer: Walter Bernstein

From novel: Fail-Safe by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler

Producer: Max E. Youngstein

Keywords: Thriller, Nuclear War, Cold War

During the tour of a Congressman at SAC Headquarters, a "bogie" is spotted; the unidentified craft is determined to be an off-course airliner and bombers are recalled, but a computer glitch leads to Bomber Group Six never receiving the recall signal. Once past the Fail Safe point, the bombers cannot be recalled, and an international crisis develops. Independently produced on a modest budget, this tense and starkly realistic Cold War drama was overshadowed at the time by the dark comedy Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964).

[watch trailer]

NameOccupationBirthDeathKnown for
Edward Binns
12-Sep-1916 4-Dec-1990 12 Angry Men
Sorrell Booke
4-Jan-1930 11-Feb-1994 Boss Hogg on Dukes of Hazzard
Dom DeLuise
1-Aug-1933 4-May-2009 Cannonball Run
Dana Elcar
10-Oct-1927 6-Jun-2005 Pete Thornton on MacGyver
Henry Fonda
16-May-1905 12-Aug-1982 12 Angry Men
Larry Hagman
21-Sep-1931 23-Nov-2012 J.R. Ewing on Dallas
Walter Matthau
1-Oct-1920 1-Jul-2000 Messy half of the Odd Couple
Dan O'Herlihy
1-May-1919 17-Feb-2005 The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe
Fritz Weaver
19-Jan-1926 26-Nov-2016 Fail Safe


Dan O'Herlihy   ...   Gen. Black
Walter Matthau   ...   Groeteschele
Frank Overton   ...   Gen. Bogan
Edward Binns   ...   Col. Grady
Fritz Weaver   ...   Col. Cascio
Henry Fonda   ...   The President
Larry Hagman   ...   Buck
William Hansen   ...   Secretary Swenson
Russell Hardy   ...   Gen. Stark
Russell Collins   ...   Knapp
Sorrell Booke   ...   Congressman Raskob
Nancy Berg   ...   Ilsa Wolfe
John Connell   ...   Thomas
Frank Simpson   ...   Sullivan
Hildy Parks   ...   Betty Black
Janet Ward   ...   Mrs. Grady
Dom DeLuise   ...   Sgt. Collins
Dana Elcar   ...   Foster
Stewart Germain   ...   Mr. Cascio
Louise Larabee   ...   Mrs. Cascio
Frieda Altman   ...   Jennie


Review by anonymous (posted on 7-Nov-2006)

A thoughtful, pointed reminder of what can happen when technology replaces common sense. This frightening war thiller poses the question, "What if the unthinkable happens between two Super Powers? An accidental bombing of a major city with a nuclear warhead. How do you convince the injured goverment that it was truly accidental? If you can, what can you do to make it right? Say I'm sorry? This early sixties "Cold War," tale caught the complex and truly tragic consequences of sophisticated weapons systems gone wild.

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