Special Sidney Lumet
The Outsider: The Films of Sidney Lumet

Fail Safe (1964)

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“General Stark, are there any papers or documents in New York which are absolutely essential to the running of the United States?” The year 1964 had some stiff competition when it came to Cold War paranoia flicks with nuclear implications, as one Stanley Kubrick dropped Dr. Stangelove that year, resulting in Sidney Lumet’s gripping thriller being completely ignored over what turned out to be one of the greatest satires ever made. But incorrectly so. Fail Safe is the more serious and therefore lasting ‘what if’ story about a vast military industrial complex running amok and igniting the M.A.D. of WWIII. Lumet’s tight direction and Henry Fonda and Walter Mathau’s stern depictions of men reduced to cogs in a machine of destruction make this a frightening and sadly currently relevant film about our own worst creation. English language without subtitles.


Sidney Lumet
Henry Fonda, Walter Matthau, Fritz Weaver, Larry Hagman
Thriller, Drama, Oorlog
112 minuten


During the Cold War, U.S. bomber jets are equipped with fail-safe boxes that instruct pilots when and if to attack. When an attack order is inadvertently administered due to a system malfunction, the President of the United States (Henry Fonda) must scramble to fix the mistake before the bombs are dropped on Moscow. He manages to stop almost all the bombers headed for Moscow, except for one determined pilot who manages to complete his mission, with deadly consequences.

KINO is proud to present a retrospective on the features of writer and director Sidney Lumet. The versatile filmmaker worked mainly outside of the Hollywood machine but always secured the greatest talent in front of his camera as his reputation as an ‘actor’s director’ secured no less than seventeen Oscar nominations for his leads. His beloved New York City was often not only a geographical setting but a vital asset in his films as he explored the metropole from its classiest office buildings to its seediest back alleys. Unlike for instance Coppola or Scorsese, Lumet’s oeuvre is less distinctive in style as he always adapted his artistic choices to serve the story, not to his own visual preferences. But he is one of the great humanist directors with a fantastic catalogue waiting to be explored and we are proud to present his biggest hits as well as his lesser known films in this thirteen feature retrospective.

Trailer: Baris Azman