Fail Safe | 1964

Directed by: Sidney Lumet

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Main Plot

During the Cold War, a technical glitch causes an American bomber to receive orders to drop a nuclear bomb on Moscow. As tensions rise between the US and the Soviet Union, the President and his advisors desperately try to prevent an all-out nuclear war.


  • Henry Fonda's character in Fail Safe is the President of the United States, tasked with preventing a nuclear catastrophe.
  • Walter Matthau played the character of Groeteschele, a strategic analyst, in the plot of Fail Safe.
  • Fritz Weaver's character in Fail Safe is Colonel Grady, a military advisor involved in the nuclear crisis.


In the ending of Fail Safe, tensions escalate as a computer glitch causes American bombers to be mistakenly sent to Moscow, triggering a potential nuclear war. Desperate efforts are made to stop the attack, but ultimately, a devastating bomb is dropped on Moscow, resulting in catastrophic consequences. The President of the United States, devastated by the loss of innocent lives, makes a difficult decision to sacrifice New York City as a gesture of goodwill to prevent further destruction. The film concludes with a somber reflection on the devastating consequences of human error and the horrors of nuclear warfare.

Sidney Lumet