Fail Safe is the purified version of Kubrick’s Doctor StrangeLove. Without the excessiveness, the burlesc, the parody, Lumet create a film with a mathematical precision, with space and time to breath and think (Kubrick always manufactory stereotype characters). The option here is not to push the button, like a nihilistic, but like a bullfighter where fear and bravery determined the action.
A l'instar d'un Stanley Kubrick qui mettait en avant la folie d'un homme, Sidney Lumet privilégie dans le scénario catastrophe d'un conflit nucléaire, l'insidieuse et mortelle panne informatique, pour finalement dans un dessein et une conséquence identiques, vilipender, stigmatiser le danger nucléaire pour l'humanité toute entière... www.cinefiches.com
Progressively more and more tense, "Fail-Safe" is a rewarding psychological and political exploration of a topic it might at times try to over-explain, getting lost in the progress. Cinematography and screenwriting are constantly somewhere between charmingly improvised B-movie production and an indie with strong authors note, emphasized by convincing feeling of claustrophobia.
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.
A brilliantly directed, played and thought motion picture. I did not expect it from a war film, yet this one is so embedded with philosophy that you do not even have to leave a room to feel its strength. "And the Lord said, gentlemen,"He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone."". A must see of war suspense, Fail-Safe is perhaps one of the best hidden gems of cold war cinema..
Very intense, exploring the psychological aspects of extremely difficult decisions, great cinematography. I can imagine how powerful and terrifying it was to watch this film at a cinema in 1964, two years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, at the peak of the Cold War. Having been made during the 60's, the film was obviously influenced by the propaganda seriously downplaying the Soviet Union side... Strong ending!
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.
Less poignant that Dr Strangelove, very different in shape yet eerily similar in back story. Somewhat reminiscent of Wargames too. Great choice of photography. Deeply, the narration lacks and because of it the film lags behind Threads, Dr Strangelove and even in some ways Wargames. The political reflection and the depiction of the matter of distrust is interesting if a bit academic.
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.
There is a live action tv version of this produced by George Clooney that is also a faithful adaptation. They are slightly different. This version seems to get the strange technical minutiae down so coldly that it makes things seems even more credible. However, the TV version is better on suspense due to its shorter running time and more plot driven focus. Both are well worth the time to sit with.