Fail-safe (1964)

Author: Dr. Mandar V. Bichu

Year: 1964
Dir: Sydney Lumet
Cast: Henry Fonda, Walter Matthau

The cold war between the then two superpowers- US and Russia was at peak in the 1960s. The ever-increasing mutual suspicion between these two countries had led to a dangerous game of one-upmanship in the areas of technological advancement and piling up of nuclear warheads. Failsafe is a movie from that era, which highlighted the dangers of this senseless approach of relying more on the might of machines, rather than minds of men.
As a strayed commercial flight induces a radar-alarm of a missile attack, US air-force planes carrying nuclear warheads get ready for the possible counter-attack on Russia. This is just happening according to the standard US protocol and no one in control- room is really anticipating anything more than a false alarm. But an unexpected instrument-failure leads to miscommunication and 6 planes actually proceed further- carrying nuclear bombs to attack Moscow. Such is the military protocol that beyond a particular distance into the Russian territory, the US pilots are supposed to disregard any contrary commands and carry out the attack.
The US President (Henry Fonda) - realizing the gravity of the situation and its possible fallout in nuclear holocaust, decides to call the Soviet Premier about this serious mistake. With the aid of their interpreters and advisors, both, the President and the Premier now must find a solution to get out of this tricky situation. Can the error now be reversed?
It’s an edge-of-the seat drama with a definite agenda against the mentality of war, technological dependence and nuclear armament.

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