Over-simplified in some aspects, but that doesn't limit the overall plot and the bigger moral dilemmas in this brilliant film. From the opening sequence, which announces "5:30 AM, New York City" before plunging the viewer into a bull ring at midday, this movie grabs and never lets go until the very end.
Where Dr Strangelove depicts doomsday as absurdist farce, Fail-Safe plays it out as real. Lumet's focus is on psychological realism, honing in on the mental strain of every character from the get-go which builds to unbearable levels of intensity. Design, cinematography and the clever use of "negative" stock footage all contribute to the sense of nightmare. Absolutely taut film-making of the highest order.
Taut from start to finish - great use of sound (and silence).
Some grandstanding dialog that, in pretty much any other context would be corny, actually comes across as entirely sincere - after all we are talking about the end of the world.
I'm not sure who wanted the disclaimer at the end but it maybe has the exact opposite of the desired effect.
A superbly on point cautionary tale of a time when nuclear war wasn't just hyperbole but almost an inevitability. Slow to unravel, but once the titular fail-safe is passed the screen closes in on a circling claustrophobia & refuses to give an ounce of breathing space. Henry Fonda, typically noble & measured, leads the story of quiet desperation. The phone call scenes are brilliantly tense affairs full of humanity.