Fail Safe: Ten Things To Know About The Movie

Fail Safe Movie Poster

Here are 10 trivia facts about Fail Safe from 1964, which originally appeared on our Facebook page. There are lots of pieces of behind-the-scenes information about this movie.  Please feel free to comment and add more trivia we might have missed.

1. This movie is based on a popular novel.

Fail Safe, published in 1962 was written by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler.  The best-seller became a hit movie in 1964 and then 16 years later, in 2000, Fail Safe was a TV movie, this time filmed live on CBS, retaining the original black and white cinematography for its broadcast.  Both movies stuck to the original premise of the novel — the possibility of an accidental nuclear war.

The title gets its meaning when something has been branded “fail safe” in the world of engineering.  It refers to a complex system has been carefully designed to account for every conceivable way things can malfunction within it and to address those glitches in a manner that does not exacerbate the problem.  The title is actually steeped in irony, given the fact that the “best laid plans of mice and men” can drive the world towards a nuclear holocaust.

2. This movie was the film debut for three future stars.

Dom Deluise, Dana Elcar and Fritz Weaver all made their first big screen appearances in Fail Safe. Elcar made 15 appearances on various TV shows including Guiding Light (1962) before Fail Safe and continued to be popular, known best for his role in MacGuyver.

Fritz Weaver was a solid TV performer appearing in just about every omnibus television offering starting as early as 1957 and appeared in 130 roles, including appearances into the 2000s in Law and Order.

Deluise successfully appeared in front of cameras more than 100 times after his rare serious role in Fail Safe but previous to his film debut in 1964, he appeared in only one TV show, ten years earlier.

3. All of the women in this movie have minor roles.

Five women have speaking parts in Fail Safe but none of their roles keep these actresses on screen for very long.  Although intentional in 1964, had the movie been made 40 years later, it might possibly be done differently.

4. One of the roles was played by a star of two different hit TV series.

Under Lumet’s direction, Larry Hagman delivered one of the most underrated performances of 1964.  Although Hagman has been in many TV series, he is best known for his role as Major Tony Nelson in I Dream of Jeannie and as J.R. Ewing in Dallas, prompting the TV-watching public to spend the entire summer of 1980 guessing “who shot J.R.?”

5. The theme of this movie portrays a potential real event.

The serious issue of a nuclear holocaust was almost diminished when it fell under the shadow of another movie the same year.  Fail Safe and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb were both released by Columbia Pictures in 1964.  At the insistance of Stanley Kubrick, Dr. Strangelove was released first. By the time Fail Safe hit theaters nine months later, even though it was already receiving stellar critical acclaim, the viewing public kept away because they considered it inadvertently humorous due to the earlier film.  It was a hard sell to take it seriously after seeing Peter Sellers in a similar movie and it’s been said that Henry Fonda admitted that had he seen Dr. Strangelove before Fail Safe, he would have laughed also — and would never have consented to make the movie.

6. Lots of stock footage was used in making this film.

Except for one scene, all views of US Air Force Vindicator bombers are actually the same plane from stock footage, the Convair B-58 Hustler, which was used when it became clear the US Department of Defense wouldn’t be helping with the filming of the movie.  The one scene where a different plane was used is during the Moscow attack — it was the North American F-86 Sabre Jet.

7. The military is involved but this is not considered a war movie.

Often categorized as a drama or thriller, Fail Safe, if anything, is looked upon as a strong anti-war movie.  Lumet’s masterpiece has been mentioned alongside other anti-war classics All Quiet On The Western Front and Paths of Glory.

8. There is no music in this film.

No music is heard throughout the film and no soundtrack was recorded.

Fail Safe was directed by Sidney Lumet

9. The famed director of this film has never won an Oscar.

Having made over 40 movies, many shot in New York, master craftsman Sidney Lumet can rub shoulders with the best of Hollywood’s directors but doesn’t have a “Best Director” Oscar on his shelf, although he was honored for his consistently excellent body of work.  In 2005, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors presented Lumet an honorary Oscar for his “brilliant services to screenwriters, performers and the art of the motion picture.”

His first feature film, 12 Angry Men earned three Academy Award nominations including Best Picture; Serpico, two nominations; Murder on the Orient Express, six nominations including Ingrid Bergman’s third Oscar; Dog Day Afternoon earned six nominations including Best Picture and did win for Best Screenplay; Network had ten nominations and won Oscars for four of its stars – and was again nominated for Best Picture; another Best Picture nod was among the five well-deserved nominations for The Verdict – in all, he directed 17 actors in Oscar-nominated roles, many of whom did win.

10. A major city is destroyed in the movie.

All of the advance promos for Fail Safe let it be known the film is about the destruction of Moscow, coming as no surprise in this tense drama… however moviegoers discovered this movie is filled with unexpected twists and turns.  Henry Fonda playing the US President during the Cold War years, faced with the accidental bombing of Moscow, feels he has no recourse but to convince the Russian Premier of his good faith by offering to bomb an American city in an effort to keep the ecalation of nuclear war in check, even against the disapproval of his commanding generals.  The dire decision at the film’s ending causes this unequalled dilemma to make Fail Safe a most unforgettable film.

Now take a look at some scenes from Fail Safe in the theatrical trailer from 1964:

YouTube Preview Image
  • General Chaos.

    Boring. Dated. And wrong. More than anything,
    “Fail Safe” is wrong. Stupid and wrong.

  • irishladyforever

    It’s “Who shot JR?”, not “Who killed JR?”

  • Jerry Frebowitz

    irishladyforever is right… “shot” it is and has been corrected. Thanks for pointing it.

  • Allen Hefner

    This is a movie that has the ability to really stir up feelings. The TV remake was shot in black and white to retain the surreal atmosphere and make you ask if this could really happen. Let’s hope not! It is a thinking person’s film.

  • bob charkow

    Hi Jerry, This movie was a surprise when I first saw it – a surprisingly taut script and performances. Incidentally, your “surprize” is spelled wrong.

    Good Ten Things!
    My best to all,
    who years & years ago coined “We’re the Moviest.”

  • Jerry Frebowitz

    Thanks Bob — “surprise” is corrected. “We’re The Moviest” goes back to 1982 and we’re glad you thought of it. Ah, those were the days…

  • General Chaos.

    Let’s get this straight. There was and is no real possibility of an accidental nuclear strike (At least, not on the part of the United States). We’ve all heard about the almost launched nuclear missile or false red alert, but the redundant systems created to prevent an accidental nuclear strike always worked. And always will. I know that a great many people take scenarios like
    “Fail Safe” seriously, but it’s all nothing but hot air. Of course, the 60′s was the anti-war era. As a result, young people who didn’t really understand a whole hell of a lot were given the opportunity to make earnest, grave, but ultimately silly films like “Fail Safe.” Yes indeed, “Fail Safe” is certainly a silly film. If you doubt me, just ask yourself what happened in October, 1962? When did the United States and the Soviet Union engage in thermo-nuclear war? Oh, but, wait a minute… “Fail Safe” makes you think? Does it, really? About what, exactly? The end of the world? If you really want to know, I’ll tell you exactly when the world will end: four and a half billion years from now!

  • General Chaos.

    And another thing… A message for those of you who think our opposition to the Soviet Union amounted to unfounded, irrational fear of Russian communism. You really don’t know the history and goals of Soviet Russia. The so-called “workers paradise” only worked to the extent that it did through millions of gulag prisoners who became slave laborers. After Stalin signed the non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany, he happily engaged in his own war of aggression with neighboring countries. And shades of the Holocaust, after WWII, Stalin began a high level purge of well educated Russian Jews starting with physicians. The only thing that saved them was Stalin’s fortuitous death. The United States was and is a free nation. The Soviet Union was an evil, dictatorial, communist hellhole that was determined to dominated the world. Only the U. S. had the power to effectively oppose Russian. It was our moral obligation and duty to do so. And you (and the rest of the world) should thank your lucky stars that we ultimately prevailed.

  • Bryan

    My Dear General Chaos;
    The movie was never about our being in or how close we could have been to a nuclear war. It was more about just how much it really would cost everyone should it happen. Every country that had the capacity knew this and tried to make sure everyone else was certain of their possession of these weapons. World War III could never happen using those weapons and they knew even then. The movie was pointing out the fact that no one was oblivious to that fact, regardless of their political views, they were still soldiers and knew the reality. Please forgive me for being overly blunt.

  • General Chaos.

    Forgive you for being overly bliunt? Blunt about what? I assure you that I’m not trying to be insulting when I say that your message makes no sense at all! If you’re trying to make a point I can’t figure out for the life of me what the heck that point might be!

  • General Confusion

    General Chaos, I admire your patriotism if not your condescension. But Fail Safe has far less to do with the U.S. versus the Soviet Union than it has to do with people versus machines/computers. THAT’S the conflict. And considering the threat created by our increased reliance on computers and their inevitable vulnerability, Fail Safe is a prescient work. Also surprised you found the film “boring”, but complicated characterizations and intelligent dialogue are not for everyone.

  • Mr. Ed

    A great movie with a profound message. I first saw this movie as a teenager, growing up in the atmosphere of a very real cold war. Other movies of this genre, filmed in the same time period were, Seven Days in May, On the Beach and of course, Dr. Strangelove. They all made appropriate statements about the then current times and perhaps carry over into today.
    As for individuals who may have been bored by Fail Ssfe, I surmise if a movie lacks “cool” special affects or profanity or sex, it has to be boring. Poor souls.

  • Skyer Flyer

    Stand Down General Chaos…it is a movie, a story, fiction. Learn the difference between fantasy and reality. You’ll enjoy life more.
    That is all General Chaos.

  • Tom Jacobs

    When I was in junior high school, I remember reading a book called “Red Alert.” As I recall, it had exactly the same story line as “Fail Safe.” I think that it was written by a British author–it was the first time I had seen “color” spelled as “colour.”
    As this was in the late 1950s, I think that this is the proper answer to trivia question number one.

  • Designer

    A minor technical point. The writer’s descritpion of “fail safe” is not what the movie Fail Safe was about. In the film, the Fail Safe Point was the point the bombers would reach from which they could no longer be recalled. The training of the crews was such that no recall message was to be heeded once the “fail safe” point had been crossed. Hence the attempt to convince the pilot that it was not a “commie trick” by having his tearful wife try to talk him out of continuing to his target.

    By the way, my biggest sticking point in the film is the choice of New York City as the quid pro quo American city to be bombed. At the time I felt “why not Washington DC, that’s where the stupid mistakes were based and it, like Moscow, is the capitol of the country”?

    Even then, and even just in a movie, the DC crowd would rather bomb NY than themselves.

  • AJ North

    Like his big-screen debut, “12 Angry Men” (1957), Sidney Lumet’s “Fail-Safe” continues to speak volumes today, nearly a half-century after its release.

    As in 1957, Lumet’s use of relatively spartan sets and modest effects work to this film’s advantage (as does the total absence of music); combined with Gerald Hirschfeld’s stark B & W cinematography and dramatic camera work – and Ralph Rosenblum’s adroit editing – the often claustrophobic tension is synergistically heightened. Minor technical flaws (as in the brief stock footage) can be overlooked, as they do not compromise the storyline.

    Lumet employed two fine actors from his 1957 film, Henry Fonda & Edward Binns, in a superb ensemble cast.

    Fonda’s portrayal is the very model for what many expect an American president to be; his distinctive voice, mannerisms and cool decisive nature define the character.

    Dan O’Herlihey imbues Gen. Black with the knowing resignation of one trapped in a dilemma with no solution, who must play out his part to the inevitable conclusion.

    Successful on stage & television, this was Fritz Weaver’s big-screen debut. He lends great pathos to his portrayal of Col. Cascio; inner demons are kept bottled-up until the breaking point – when they erupt at a critical moment of the crisis.

    Known best for comedy, Walter Matthau proves his dramatic abilities as Prof. Groeteschele, loosely based on Herman Kahn, a founder of the New York Hudson Institute (with a sprinkling of Edward Teller thrown in). (After obtaining a M. Sc. degree from Caltech, Kahn was recruited by the RAND Corporation. It was there that he published his seminal treatise, “On Thermonuclear War” (giving a nod to “On War,” by Carl von Clausewitz). This was the genesis of the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (‘MAD’).)

    Giving perhaps the finest performance of his too-short career, Frank Overton as Gen. Bogan instills in his character wisdom, humanity and quiet dignity (as in the role of Sheriff Heck Tate in “To Kill A Mockingbird,” 1962). Rather than an autocratic or callous commanding officer, Bogan displays understanding and compassion.

    In a late scene, realizing his mistake and that it means the No. 1 plane carrying the bombs will almost certainly reach its target of Moscow, Marshall Nevsky, with whom General Bogan has been speaking over their “hot line,” collapses and is replaced by General Koniev.

    After a brief exchange with Koniev about a last-chance possibility of stopping the plane, Bogan says, “You speak English very well, General.”

    Koniev: “I was liaison to your headquarters in London, during the war.”

    Bogan: “I was stationed right outside of London.”

    Koniev: “Yes, I know; at the Eighth Air Force.”

    Bogan: “Did you like London?”

    Koniev: “Very much.”

    Bogan: “So did I.”

    Koniev: “The great cities are those where one can walk; I would walk all the time in London. Wherever you turn, there’s history.”

    General Bogan is handed a SAC dossier on General Koniev and leafs through it; seeing Koniev’s photograph he asks, “General, are you in Moscow now?”

    Koniev: “No; I was ordered to leave.”

    Finding a photograph of the general with his wife and children, Bogan starts to ask whether his family is safe – but stops himself before any words are spoken, instead saying simply, “It’s a hard day.”

    Koniev: “Yes, a hard day.” (Pause) “Goodbye, my friend.”

    “Goodbye MY friend,” replies Bogan with the resignation and sorrowfulness of one bidding farewell to a lifelong friend.

    More even than an object lesson in how adults handle a crisis of cataclysmic proportion, “Fail-Safe” is a still-relevant cautionary tale about misplaced faith in sophisticated technology and the possible ramifications therefrom (as in “Colossus – The Forbin Project,” 1970), perfectly enunciated in this exchange:

    KNAPP: “The more complex an electronic system gets, the more accident-prone it is. Sooner or later, it breaks down… A transistor blows, a condenser burns out. Sometimes they just get tired, like people…”

    GROETESCHELE: “But Mr. Knapp overlooks one thing. The machines are supervised by humans. Even if the machine fails, the human being can always correct the mistake.”

    KNAPP: “I wish you were right. The fact is the machines work so fast, they are so intricate, the mistakes they make are so subtle that very often a human being can’t know if a machine is lying or telling the truth.”

    Of course, the obvious comparison will be made to Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964), based on the novel “Red Alert,” by Peter George (originally published in the UK as “Two Hours to Doom” under the pseudonym of Peter Bryant). It was not a comedy (nor was it nearly as well-written as the Burdick-Wheeler novel); Kubrick and George turned it into the black comedy classic it became.

    With Kubrick having substantially more clout than Lumet at that time, George suing Burdick and Wheeler for plagiarism and Columbia Pictures releasing both films, though “Fail-Safe” was ‘in the can’ first, it was held back – and the movie-going public got to yuck-it-up over the prospect of thermonuclear annihilation. After all, Stanley Kramer’s stunning film “On the Beach” (1959) had not yet faded from the public’s mind, the Cold War had recently heated to a boil with the Cuban Missile Crisis – and President Kennedy had just been assassinated. People needed to laugh, if even at a black comedy. In large part as a result, “Fail-Safe” was not a box-office success; posterity has treated it quite differently.

    Niels Bohr’s famous quip, “There are things that are so serious that you can only joke about them,” notwithstanding, an earnest discussion on trying to avert the total annihilation of the planet is deadly serious – and on every level, “Fail-Safe” remains an outstanding, riveting and truly harrowing film, all too relevant even today – for there is no highly-complex technology that is truly “Fail-Safe.”

  • Chester

    Great movies, but difficult to watch more than once. Very much like On the Beach. Extremely depressing.

  • Mike Oldfield

    I too am convinced that SAC’s attack wing would not have been sent on a bombing mission into Russia just because a small electronic component failed. However, this is a gripping drama and does give us a real sense of the atmosphere of the Cold War. The weak point in this film is that stock footage of the B-58 Hustlers. They used negative film and the American white stars on their fuselages looks black !

  • Mike Oldfield

    Although I doubt that SAC would send its bomber force to attack the Soviet Union just because a small electronic component burned out, this is a gripping drama which gives us a real understanding of the Cold War and the thinking on both sides. The flaw in this film which bothers me is the stock footage of the B-58 Hustlers. They used negative film and the American white stars on the fuselage show up as black stars !

  • Tommy T

    Sounds like there are some younger commenters who are wet behind the ears. Having served in SAC during those days, I can assure you the threat was real and the response was real. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, we were literally only seconds from launching a world-ending nuculear strike against the Soviets. When I was in school we played “Duck and Cover” constantly though it would have done much good as we lived less than ten miles from a missile silo. “Fail Safe” played to the fears that most Americans had at that time for decades Americans lived as hostages because of our government’s policy of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). It wasn’t until President Reagan pushed for his “Star Wars” program of anti-ballistic missile defense that we any hope of surviving a nuclear war. Ultimately, it was President Reagan’s policies that broke the back of the Soviet Union and ended the Cold War. “Fail Safe” was damn good movie and scary as hell because it was a possible scenario. The people who didn’t realize it were those fools and intellectuals who chose to be sheep, living in denial and ignorance and who preferred “Strangelove” because it allowed them to continue living in ignorance and bliss.

  • reallifeshocker

    i remember this movie very well, as an impressionable 12 year old. not much, however has changed, still love the dated, often campy silliness. at least strangelove was meant to be humorous. in many ways fonda is funnier than sellers, still playing tom joad after all those years.

  • Dave Manning

    As a thriller, Fail Safe works well. However, the very ridiculous idea that the President of the United States would order an American bomber pilot to drop a nuke on New mYork City has always seemed an insult to even the most fertile imagination, Puh-leeze!!!

  • Babs

    you all are nuts ! what about the acting ? ? ? Superb !!!!!!!

  • General Chaos.

    Hi guys. Great discussion. But I stand by my rants. “Fail Safe” is what it is. There are no hidden meanings. It isn’t about the fact that technology is unreliable. If that were the case, the producers could have simply made a comedy about broken down used cars. Nope. I live in the real world and “Fail Safe” is about the possibility of an inadvertent nuclear stike. Nothing else. Nothing more. Whether technology failed or human beings made the wrong decisions, it tells the world that the United States (not the Soviet Union, mind you) is liable to accidentally precpitate a thermo-nuclear war. This is nonsense! The film is nonsense! Nothing went over my head. I didn’t misunderstand anything. Now… Mr. North is correct when he says that no technology is truly “fail safe.” However, the redundant systems created to prevent an accidental nuclear strike isn’t a simple matter of technology. That’s just a part of it. Actually, it’s a very small part of it. In any case, “Fail Safe” can only be considered profound and meaningful by those people who don’t know any better. Still… If you think self satisfying insults are appropriate merely because we disagree (“poor souls” who don’t like “…complicated characterizations… intelligent dialogue” and only prefer “…profanity and sex…”), that’s an unfortunate character flaw on your part. I recognize the fact that “Fail Safe” has decent dialogue and acting. But I had no reason to bring them up. They have nothing to do with any of my points. In the future I hope there will be no more thoughtless and/or mean spirited comments.


    I have validate TOMMY T’S statement of fact. I was also on a “Special Weapons” missile site during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was thatclose to missile away. Moreover, everyone in the crews were conditioned to do their jobs to assure success. This proves up the validity of the Hustler’s crew’s dedication to get it done once the go codes were verified.
    General Chaos, this was not a silly film. You just had to be there.

  • General Chaos.

    Fine. But Tommy T and CWS Fan actually prove my point. Nothing would be launched unless human beings, not computers or some other form of technology, decided to press the red button. And no one on either side made any such decision. When push came to shove, everyone on both sides recognized the potential consequences and did the right thing. They dialed it back. Of course, you were both on alert and ready to follow orders. That’s what was expected of you. From your perspective, doomsday seemed imminent. We now know that it wasn’t. You were right to be nervous. But history tells us, no matter the provocation, leaders on both sides were unwilling to engage in a thermo-nuclear war. They knew what that would mean. You just didn’t know this at the time. In any case, the Cuban missile crisis really has nothing to do with the film “Fail Safe.” I stand by everything I have said up to this point. An inadvertent nuclear strike on the part of the United States, whether due to faulty technology or poor judgement, was not possible. The novelists and screenwriters of that era (or, for that matter, any era) couldn’t have known much of anything about the systems created to prevent such an occurrence. After all, such things are by necessity top secret. Even military people involved in nuclear strike safety systems and procedures are not privy to each and every aspect of it. This means that “Fail Safe” has nothing more to do with reality than a James Bond movie. Oh… But everyone involved in making the film were very serious about it. We’d better listen to the warning and pay attention. If we don’t, it could be the end of all of us!Really…?! Oh… Wait… Not really. Now please excuse me while I take some time to watch my blu-ray copy of “Goldfinger,” which is a much better film than “Fail Safe!” (P.S.: Some of you had a problem with the ending of the film. Right on! Which USAF pilot would actually drop a nuclear bomb on an American city?! To this I say BAH!)

  • d2008

    During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet Union did not bring their missiles to full alert, and American intelligence believed that it was because they were afraid of an accident. So in a speech in front of the Soviets Kennedy said something along the line of “Some people worry our missiles might accidentally go off, but we have many safeguards, for example…” and he basically told them how to safeguard their missiles. So both sides were worried about an accident on the Soviet side. The Americans did have a plane that was carrying nuclear warheads crash off the coast of Spain, but the warhead did not go off. We obviously needed to have an active deterrent, but to say there was no chance of an accident reminds me of a line from Body Heat which goes something like “there are 100 ways that can get messed up, and if you are a genius you can only think of 50 of them.”

  • General Chaos.

    Nope. Sorry. Didn’t happen. Can’t happen.

  • General Chaos.

    Ya know, my comment above was much too short and glib. Please allow me to elaborate. Throughout the cold war (and after, for that matter), a number of American and soviet long range bombers laden with nuclear bombs went missing. This also happened to nuclear submarines filled with nuclear missiles. Now… Some were located and salvaged. Most were not. The thing is, none of the weapons detonated as a result of the accident and/or crash. They couldn’t have detonated due to their design. In other words: if they’re not armed and ready to go, they simply cannot explode. For any reason. Ever. No matter the depth of the ocean. No matter the force of impact. And of course, we know that they did not detonate. Radiation, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter. Assuming the weapon casings have been compromised, this is certainly a matter of concern. Areas surrounding the unrecovered weapons would likely be a no-man’s land (or pool, whatever the case may be). But one need not worry about being vaporized by a sudden explosion. If the weapons refused to detonate as a result of a devastating impact, they sure as heck won’t detonate any time thereafter. Now please excuse me while I take some time to watch “Thunderball,” a James Bond film about a stolen NATO recon-bomber and two missing nuclear weapons. It too is a much better film than “Fail Safe.”

  • Victor Brown

    Right on! This and Dr. Strangelove were two of the most important films of the Cold War Era. That is why I was compelled to examine them in my forthcoming book, The Complete History Of The Vietnam Conflict: A “Popular” War That Won’t Go Away. The ideas of both films have to figure prominently in any discussion of that war because they stem from the same premise: How far will either side go in confronting the other? As any student of recent history can attest, leaders of both the U. S. and the Soviet Union were worried that the Indochina hostilities might flare and thereby cause even more strife. Accordingly, Fail Safe deserves to be etched in the annals of the Vietnam War and of the Cold War.

  • General Chaos.

    If you say so.

  • General Chaos.

    Actually, neither “Fail Safe” nor “Dr. Strangelove” have any real significance at all. You may read just about anything into them that strikes your fancy (some dimwits believe “Night Of The Living Dead” is a statement about the destruction of the soul on the part of an impersonal society, or some such nonsense), but that sort of thing reaches the level of film school analysis. If you wish to make some kind of phony analogy between “Fail Safe” and the Vietnam war, hey, go for it. We all know exactly the type of person who likes that kind of baked Alaska. However, before you laud the silly propaganda of “Fail Safe,” there are three inescapable facts you should remember. Firstly: And most obviously, it goes without saying that the motivations and behavior of all the main characters stem from the fevered brows of the novelist and scriptwriter. The characters aren’t real. The story isn’t real. Therefore, it cannot be taken seriously. Secondly: From beginning to end, all the details relating to technology have absolutely nothing to do with actual military applications. The writers may well have known how certain devices operate, but they couldn’t possibly have known how any single device, no matter how simple or complicated, was utilised. Or, for that matter, if any single bit of technology they inserted into their story had been utilised at all. And finally: Too much that is known about the Vietnam war just isn’t so! Some people just don’t like the truth about any number of things. The Vietnam war is one of them. Now, I could get into that subject much more deeply, but that would take up much too much space on this board. And it may be unfair of me to assume that you, Mr. Brown, take all the assumptions regarding the Vietnam war to heart. But it’s not unreasonable for anyone to assume that your knowledge and understanding of the subject does not differ from that of most other people. And no doubt, at this point, you’re offering a condescending smirk and/or rolling your eyes at my obviously presumptuous attitude, but I just can’t help it. Too many people don’t know history, American or otherwise. And they sure as Hell don’t know much about the Vietnam war. Certainly not the truth. Virtually every book ever written on the subject has gotten it wrong. Will yours be any different?

  • ColinT

    Well after all that I’m pleased to say that after watching Larry Hagmans performance as the translator in Fail Safe when I was a young man influenced me to take an interest in foreign languages and carry out translation work many years later.I found the film both eery and worthy. What worries me is that the faulty unit looks rather like an RAF ‘RF27′ tuning unit……….I notice Mr Hagman is unwell at this time and wish him all the best.

  • Yames

    I can’t believe some of these responses!
    “It was boring. And dated. And wrong?”
    WTF!!! Whoever left that response was clearly not living in this world when the “Cold War” was in full swing. Had your tired little ass been alive during that time, it would have scared the living crap out of you!! Clearly, you didn’t understand “Dr. Strangelove, either!”

  • Yames

    THAT was the state of the world, young Imbeciles! So shut your trap and listen up in your History class in high school (which you clearly need to re-take)! What a bunch of crap! This is the way the world ends, and dimwits like you can only hasten the end because of your incredible stupidity! I hope you pull a tendon – and I hope it’s painful, while you’re practicing your Wii tennisin your living room! Twits…

  • eddie kale

    it’s just a fail-safe , flip-shot pit-stop called
    planet dearth -…-s’not much , but it can be called ‘home’

  • Lydiahoggarth

    What i would like to add to this excellent and highly intellectual discussion is FUCKITY FUCK FUCK!  You are all geniuses on a level that far exceeds anything seen prior in human intellectual history.  In closing, I would like to add that FUCKITY TWAT COCK makes as much sense as anything else I have read here.


    General Chaos… well named. For there seems to be little order within your mind. Made apparent by, if nothing else, the assertion that Bond movies are better than this.

    I’m afraid you simply didn’t get it. Much like a more recent flick (Terminator II), this movie ends up being about humans as machines, yet with a dangerously blind faith in machines. It’s about the drive to make machines more intelligent and yet make some select humans more machine-like. And, quite deftly, drives the point that we should fail… that we MUST fail or suffer disastrous consequences.

    And how is it that nobody seemed to notice that it was not *just* some electronic fart that caused everything? It caused a slight hiccup, made worse by a standard, prudent and in fact seemingly benign response that the US folks didn’t think of, which meant this, which in turn meant that, culmination upon culmination… until…

    And this film does indeed stand out — and above — other similar works in that it does not end up flinging the human arrogance message about a human mind finally winning the day. In the end, the film says both we and the machines we build are amazing, incredible, brilliant pieces of work. But that both are fallible in different ways, and that without vigilance in maintaining great and noble purpose, we shall rot in the pit that we will have made for ourselves.

  • Monolithicman

    16 years after 1964 isn’t 2000. I just watched saw this movie. The best black and white movie I’ve seen.

    • mambobananapatch

      It is a timeless, great film.

      I’d have to say that Failsafe, Dr. Strangelove, The Manchurian Candidate and Seven Days in May are my favourite B&W films.

  • Snortz

    Those fighters weren’t F-86s. They looked a lot more like F-102s. F-86 wasn’t a delta wing fighter.