D: Sidney Lumet

Columbia (Sidney Lumet, Charles H. Maguire & Max E. Youngstein)

USA 🇺🇸 1964

112 mins


W: Walter Bernstein & Peter George[based on the novel by Eugene Burdick & Harvey Wheeler]

DP: Gerald Hirschfeld

Ed: Ralph Rosenblum

Henry Fonda (The President), Walter Matthau (Groeteschele), Dan O'Herlihy (Gen. Black), Frank Overton (Gen. Bogan), Fritz Weaver (Col. Cascio)

Sailing below the radar due to Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove being released in the same year, this Cold War drama looks at similar themes through more dramatic lenses.

Due to an erroneous message from the Pentagon, a US bomber is despatched with an atomic weapon en route to Moscow, starting a domino effect of events which the American president must account for.

Incredibly well written, with a superb central performance from Henry Fonda, this is a film which would have been harder hitting when watched in the 1960's, when the fear factor was very much part of current affairs. It still has some resonance nowadays, but much of the tech in this film is dated.

It's unfortunate that the much superior Dr. Strangelove was released the same year, despite looking at the Cold War from a satirical viewpoint.


Henry Fonda in Fail-Safe
Henry Fonda in Fail-Safe