FAIL SAFE (1964) B/W widescreen 111m dir: Sidney Lumet

w/Dan O'Herlihy, Walter Matthau, Frank Overton, Edward Binns, Fritz Weaver, Henry Fonda, Larry Hagman, William Hansen, Russell Hardie, Russell Collins

Nightmarish drama about what might happen when, through an error, a SAC plane is ordered to bomb Moscow. This situation develops into a gripping, suspenseful tale.

From The Movie Guide: "Released only seven months after DR. STRANGELOVE by the very same studio, the virtually identical, albeit totally serious, FAIL SAFE was a relative failure at the box office. [Stanley] Kubrick went to Columbia's top brass and threatened a plagiarism lawsuit. (His film was based on Peter George's almost unknown novel Red Alert.) Since Columbia was distributing both DR. STRANGELOVE and FAIL SAFE, it appeased Kubrick by releasing his film first, and, of course, that cult classic captured the lion's share of viewers, leaving FAIL SAFE to appear as a serious, comparatively dreary rehash. ...

"Grim, bleak and highly claustrophobic, FAIL SAFE is very much like director Sidney Lumet's previous film 12 ANGRY MEN, in that it concentrates almost exclusively on the actors' performances and is shot mainly in tight close-ups. While this is a wonderful showcase for some fine acting --- notably by Fonda --- it is not great filmmaking, and one may be left wishing for the biting, off-the-wall satire of DR. STRANGELOVE."