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directed by Sidney Lumet
USA 1964


Based on the novel "Fail-Safe" by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler, Sidney Lumet directed this shocking masterpiece of cold-war realism.

Due to astronomically unfortunate computer error, a flight of Strategic Air Command (SAC) bombers originating in Alaska carry 2 nuclear warheads past what is known as the 'fail-safe' point. With Russian military jamming their communication they cannot be recalled. They are headed toward Moscow to drop their bombs and complete their mission. The options of stopping them are both limited and extremely time sensitive.

Henry Fonda portrays the President of the United States in a role he wears like a tailor made suit. Attempts to abort the mission fail and the President is left with no more options... aside from the unthinkable. Communicating with the aptly crippled Secretary of Defense, various military personnel, visiting political scientist Groeteschele (Walter Matthau) and the Russian Premier (through his his translator 'Buck' played by Larry Hagman) a most impossible, totally unacceptable decision is absolutely believably concluded. Stunning is an understatement. This is without question in my mind, the best Cold-war film ever made. The performances are outstanding, the messages are both subtle and coldly obvious with a conclusion as eviscerating as any I can remember. I have watched it 10 times and will continue to do so at least once a year. A great film to introduce to friends as so few epople have seen it before. 'Hidden Gem" in the fact that Columbia chose to release Dr. Strangelove first in 1964, and being a darkly satiric view of similar issues, its appearance severely diminished any impact that Fail-Safe would have opening later that same year.
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Theatrical Release: October 7th, 1964 - USA

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DVD Review: Columbia Tri-Star (SE) -  Region 1 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover


Distribution Columbia Tri-Star -  Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:52:00
Video 1.80:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.5 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.



Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
Subtitles English, Spanish, French, Korean, Portuguese, Thai, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Columbia/Tristar Studios

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterbox 1.81:1

Edition Details:
• Commentary by director Sidney Lumet
• Theatrical trailer
• Exclusive Featurette: "'Fail Safe' Revisited" (16:01)
• Talent Files (Sidney Lumet, Walter Matthau, Henry Fonda and Larry Hagman)

DVD Release Date: October 31, 2000

Keep Case
Chapters: 28



Don't bother with those silly comments made on Amazon about this release... it is a fantastic SE DVD. Anamorphic, film grain, sharp, great contrast with a relatively loose mono soundtrack. There are some dust and damage marks, but they do not influence the film enjoyment.  I am convinced that this film will never look better on DVD. The Extras - a commentary and short featurette - both just wonderful. This is one of my most cherished DVDs. out of

Gary W. Tooze

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DVD Box Cover


Distribution Columbia Tri-Star -  Region 1 - NTSC














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