Fail Safe

Angriffsziel Moskau
An unknown aircraft appears on the radar of US Air Force command, and bomber squadrons carrying nuclear warheads are automatically put on alert. Almost predictably, the purported threat turns out to be a harmless civilian airliner gone off course. But one bomber wing has already passed the fail-safe point and is flying towards Moscow. Due to technical failures, the military command is unable to recall the planes. A desperate attempt to have US planes shoot down the errant bombers also fails. The president uses the red phone to call the Soviet premier in an attempt to stave off a retaliatory nuclear strike from Russia, and proves willing to go to unusual lengths to prevent an atomic war … The film is an intimate drama about nuclear war. This taut psychological drama is based on the eponymous bestselling book published in 1962, the year of the Cuban missile crisis. It is an impressive critique of the Cold War military doctrine, with its portrayal of politicians and the military mired in the fatal logic of mutually assured destruction. – World premiere of the digitally restored version in 4K DCP.
by Sidney Lumet
with Henry Fonda, Dan O'Herlihy, Walter Matthau, Frank Overton, Edward Binns, Fritz Weaver, Larry Hagman, William Hansen
USA 1964 English 112’ Black/White Rating R16


  • Henry Fonda
  • Dan O'Herlihy
  • Walter Matthau
  • Frank Overton
  • Edward Binns
  • Fritz Weaver
  • Larry Hagman
  • William Hansen


Director Sidney Lumet based on the novel “Fail Safe” (1962) by Eugene Burdick, Harvey Wheeler
Screenplay Walter Bernstein
Cinematography Gerald Hirschfeld
Editing Ralph Rosenblum
Sound William Swift
Art Director Albert Brenner
Costumes Anna Hill Johnstone
Make-Up Harry Buchman
Producer Max E. Youngstein

World sales

Park Circus Limited

Produced by

Columbia Pictures Corp.

Additional information

Restoration by
Sony Pictures Entertainment, Burbank/CA

4K Wetgate scanning and digital image restoration: Cineric, Inc., New York; USA
Picture conforming, color grading: Roundabout Entertainment, Burbank; USA
Audio restoration: Deluxe Audio Services, Los Angeles/CA; USA

Sidney Lumet


Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2019