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Sidney Lumet

Fail Safe

Director Sidney Lumet Cast Henry Fonda, Walter Matthau, Fritz Weaver
Edition 2024
112' - 1964 - Drama, Thriller - Dialogue: Russian, English
Although it pretty much features the same doomsday scenario as Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove (only now with straight faces and serious speeches), Fail Safe - a tense account of accidental nuclear warfare - never received the same praise. Henry Fonda plays the US president who makes the ultimate sacrifice when his fumbling military top sends nukes towards Moscow.
In Dr Strangelove, Stanley Kubrick gave his scathingly humourous vision of the unthinkable - a fatal ‘accident’ with a nuclear weapon. Sidney Lumet, around the same time, brought a deadly serious and understated view of what might happen should a technical/mechanical error cause nuclear war. US ‘Vindicator’ bombing planes approach the ‘end point’ (Fail-Safe) on a certain day when they are informed of their possible target. Since, due to a communication breakdown, no one calls them back, they advance towards Moscow, as the logbook dictates. Henry Fonda is the powerless (and nameless in the film) president who, together with his crisis team, searches for solutions to avert the fatal US-Russian nuclear game. The way out proposed by the president to avoid an all-out nuclear war is also what makes this rarely screened film so controversial.

Tickets & screenings: from 19 September 2024.

Image gallery

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Sidney Lumet


Henry Fonda, Walter Matthau, Fritz Weaver


Walter Bernstein

Director of Photography

Gerald Hirschfeld


Ralph Rosenblum


Max E. Youngstein

More info


Russian, English

Countries of production

United States of America

Screenplay based on

"Fail-Safe" (Eugene Burdick & Harvey Wheeler)