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Fail-Safe DVD

Following closely on the heels of Stanley Kubrik's DR. STRANGELOVE (all too closely for Kubrick and company, who quickly filed a lawsuit alleging plagiarism), Sidney Lumet's FAIL-SAFE employs a similarly stylized and heightened dramatic structure in its nerve-crushing moral tale. Taking place over the course of a single day, the film follows government and army officials in Nebraska, New York City, and Washington, D.C., as they go about their day supervising, examining, and speculating on the fragile state of affairs engendered by the tense nuclear standoff between the U.S. and Russia. When an off-course commercial airplane triggers the Pentagon's complex "fail-safe" maneuver, leaving an arsenal of nuclear-bomb-carrying jet fighters at the ready, a mechanical error puts the entire world in danger of destruction. Riveting performances from a rich cast are pushed even further by Lumet's stark and ominous direction. Walter Matthau gives an uncharacteristic turn as a cold and contemptuous political scientist unswerving in his convictions that the U.S. must stand strong against the communist menace. Henry Fonda plays the American president who must navigate the complex and urgent political trauma and prevent total destruction, even at an unthinkable price.
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