Berlinale: Programme

Film File

Berlinale Classics

Fail Safe

Angriffsziel Moskau

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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.

Sidney Lumet

USA 1964


112’ · Black/White · 4K DCP

Digitally restored version 2017

Rating R16


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


Sidney Lumet, based on the novel “Fail Safe” (1962) by Eugene Burdick, Harvey Wheeler
Walter Bernstein
Director of Photography
Gerald Hirschfeld
Ralph Rosenblum
William Swift
Art Director
Albert Brenner
Anna Hill Johnstone
Harry Buchman
Max E. Youngstein

Produced by

Columbia Pictures Corp.

World sales

Park Circus Limited

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