Henry Fonda
Director: Sidney Lumet Cast: Henry Fonda
Henry Fonda
, Walter Matthau
Walter Matthau
, Frank Overton
Frank Overton
Sidney Lumet

Blu-ray (Black & White)

View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


Based on the novel by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler, Fail-Safe is set for the most part at Strategic Air Command headquarters, where a misguided transmission sends a squadron of bombers hurtling towards Russia, fully prepared to drop their atomic weaponry on Moscow. Air Force commander Frank Overton desperately tries to establish radio contact with the bombers, but once the pilots have passed the "fail safe" point, they've been instructed to disregard any reversal of orders. Racing against time, US President Henry Fonda, through his interpreter (Larry Hagman), informs the Russian premiere of the impending nuclear disaster. Working in concert with SAC, the Russians send up interceptors to shoot down the American bombers, while some of the planes run out of fuel and crash. Unfortunately, one aircraft, piloted by Edward Binns, manages to escape destruction and continues on its fatal mission. Realizing that Moscow is doomed, the President must decide how to avert World War III. Featured in the cast of Fail Safe are Walter Matthau as a hawkish scientist, Fritz Weaver as a round-the-bend colonel, and Dom DeLuise (billed as "DeLouise") as a weeping sergeant. Fail-Safe is followed by a government-dictated disclaimer insisting that the events leading up to the nuclear disaster depicted in the film could not possibly happen.

Product Details

Release Date: 01/28/2020
UPC: 0715515240413
Original Release: 1964
Source: Criterion Collection
Region Code: A
Presentation: [B&W]
Time: 1:52:00
Sales rank: 11,156

Special Features

New 4k digital restoration with uncompressed monaural soundtrack; Audio Commentary from 2000 featuring Director Sidney Lumet; New interview with film critic J. Hoberman on 1960s nuclear paranoia and Cold War films; "Fail Safe" Revisited, a short documentary from 2000 including interviews with Lumet, Screenwriter Walter Bernstein, and actor Dan O'Herlihy; Plus: An essay by film critic Bilge Ebiri

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Henry Fonda President
Walter Matthau Groeteschele
Frank Overton Gen. Bogan
Dan O'Herlihy Gen. Black
Fritz Weaver Col. Cascio
Larry Hagman Buck
Edward Binns Col. Grady
William Hansen Secretary Swenson
Russell Hardie Gen. Stark
Russell Collins Gordon Knapp
Sorrell Booke Cong. Raskob
Dom DeLuise Sgt. Collins
John P. Connell Thomas
Frank Simpson Sullivan
Hildy Parks Betty Black
Janet Ward Mrs. Grady
Nancy Berg Ilsa Wolfe
Dana Elcar Mr. Foster
Stuart Germain Mr. Cascio
Louise Larabee Mrs. Cascio
Frieda Altman Jennie

Technical Credits
Sidney Lumet Director,Producer
Walter Bernstein Screenwriter
Albert Brenner Art Director
Harry Buchman Makeup
J.C. Delaney Set Decoration/Design
Harry Falk Asst. Director
Gerald Hirschfeld Cinematographer
Storyboard Inc Special Effects
Anna Hill Johnstone Costumes/Costume Designer
Charles H. Maguire Associate Producer
Ralph Rosenblum Editor
Max E. Youngstein Producer

Customer Reviews