Through the unlikeliest of circumstances, an American aircraft loaded with nuclear warheads is headed towards Moscow, and cannot be recalled. Racing against the clock, the President (Fonda) contacts the Russian premier through his interpreter, Buck (Hagman), to inform him that a faulty radio transmission has sent the bombers past the "fail-safe" point. Is it too late to save Moscow and avert World War III?
Of all the edgy doomsday thrillers that have unnerved us since the 1960s, our favorite is the chilling "Fail-Safe." Throughout the film, set in the control room of Strategic Air Command, director Lumet expertly uses his camera to build claustrophobia and tension. The scenes with Fonda as the President and young Hagman as a petrified Russian translator are especially riveting. Matthau also makes your blood run cold as a dispassionate nuclear-arms expert. Made when Cold War paranoia was at its height, this is a masterwork of relentless suspense. Don't "Fail" to see it.