Fail-Safe 1964
After the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the Cold War was threatening to get hot. World War III didn't just seem possible, it seemed inevitable. 1964 saw the release of two movies related to that concept, both from Columbia and each helmed by a famous director near the beginning of his career. Stanley Kubrick directed the darkly comic masterpiece Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, and was able to convince the studio to release his movie first. Sydney Lumet's grimly toned Fail Safe wouldn't be released until months later, leaving it in the shadow of its more famous predecessor.

Lumet’s bold and chilling classic boasts a great central performance from Henry Fonda as the US President who must try to avert a world holocaust when human errors and computer malfunctions mistakenly send a squadron of American ‘Vindicator’ bombers off to drop American nuclear bombs on Moscow. To try to convince the Soviets this is in fact a mistake, the President orders the American Strategic Air Command to help the Soviets stop them.

Director: Sidney Lumet
Cast: Henry Fonda, Walter Matthau, Fritz Weaver
Country: USA
Genre: Drama, Thriller

BD50 | 1080p AVC | 01:52:22 | 40.6 Gb + 3% rec
Language: English
Subtitles: English


Commentary - this audio commentary initially appeared on the R1 DVD release of Fail-Safe. Director Sidney Lumet discusses in great detail how the film came to exist, its political message, where various segments were shot, the casting process, etc.

J. Hoberman - in this new video interview, critic J. Hoberman discusses the Eugene Burdick's 1962 novel that inspired Fail Safe as well as some of the key themes in it. Also, there are specific observations about the socio-political climate during the 1960s. The interview was recorded exclusively for Criterion in 2019. In English, not subtitled. (20 min, 1080p).

Fail-Safe Revisited - a standard featurette focuses on the relevance of Fail-Safe and includes clips from interviews with director Sidney Lumet and various actors, including George Clooney, the producer of Fail Safe (2000). In English, not subtitled. (16 min).