FAIL SAFE (2000)


Fail Safe (2000)

Actors: Richard Dreyfuss, Noah Wyle, Brian Dennehy, Sam Elliott, James Cromwell
Stephen Frears
Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC
Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Number of discs:
Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date:
June 5, 2007
Run Time:
84 minutes



Fail Safe is probably the most senseless remake since Gus van Sandt's shot-for-shot remake (except it's in color - wow!) of Hitchcock's classic Psycho.

Fail Safe is a remake of a 1964 Cold War nuclear thriller starring Henry Fonda that was overshadowed in that same year by director Stanley (2001) Kubrick's anarchic Dr. Strangelove. Not having seen the original film I can't exactly comment whether Fail Safe is a shot-for-shot remake, but it almost seems like it - except they didn't even bother to film in it in color!

In fact, no attempts have been made to update the material at all. This movie, like the original, is set in the early 1960s. The technology, fashions, etc. remain the same. For such a "topical" movie this is all rather senseless. After all, the plot involves the dramatic events that occur when an American bomber squad accidentally gets orders to nuke Moscow. Nuking Moscow isn't something that will go down lightly, especially during the height of the Cold War. Accidents happen and the Cold War is a silly business the movie tells us. No doubt - except the Cold War has been over for more than a decade by now . . . Obviously, it isn't only spy thriller writers like John le Carre that miss the Cold War!

Despite its lack of topicality, Fail Safe isn't bad despite its gimmicky roots. It was broadcast on American television in 2000 in the way shows used to be broadcast in the early 'Sixties, namely completely live. It must have taken quite some planning and effort because the movie suffers from very few technical faults. On DVD (it was only released on Region 1 DVD in June 2007) none of this matters of course - except that one is probably spared any breaks for advertisements that would destroyed any onscreen tension. The acting is also adequate and some events will surprise viewers.

It's just that a big why? hangs over the proceedings.



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