Blu-ray, DVD Release: Fail Safe (1964)

Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: Jan. 28, 2019
Price: DVD $22.47, Blu-ray $27.99
Studio: Criterion

The unnerving 1964 procedural drama-thriller Fail Safe painstakingly details an all-too-plausible nightmare scenario in which a mechanical failure jams the United States military’s chain of command and sends the country hurtling toward nuclear war with the Soviet Union.

Working from a contemporary best seller, screenwriter Walter Bernstein and director Sidney Lumet  (12 Angry MenNetwork) wrench harrowing suspense from the doomsday fears of the Cold War era, making the most of a modest budget and limited sets to create an atmosphere of clammy claustrophobia and astronomically high stakes. Starring Henry Fonda (My Darling Clementine) as a coolheaded U.S. president and Walter Matthau  (A New LeafThe Taking of Pelham One Two Three) as a trigger-happy political theorist, Fail Safe is a long-underappreciated alarm bell of a film, sounding an urgent warning about the deadly logic of mutually assured destruction.

Criterion’s new editions of the classic contain the following:

* New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
* Audio commentary from 2000 featuring director Sidney Lumet
* New interview with film critic J. Hoberman on 1960s nuclear paranoia and Cold War films
“Fail-Safe” Revisited, a short documentary from 2000 including interviews with Lumet, screenwriter Walter Bernstein, and actor Dan O’Herlihy
* An essay by critic Bilge Ebiri

Buy or Rent Fail Safe

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.