Dennis D. McDonald (ddmcd@outlook.com) is an independent consultant located in Alexandria Virginia. His services and capabilities are described here. Application areas include project, program, and data management; market assessment, digital strategy, and program planning; change and content management; social media; and, technology adoption. Follow him on Google+. He also publishes on CTOvision.com and aNewDomain.

Sidney Lumet's FAIL-SAFE

By Dennis D. McDonald

This black and white doomsday adventure from 1964 tells about a U.S. bomber crew sent by accident to destroy Moscow and how the U.S. president (played by Henry Fonda) deals with the situation.

We now know that the early warning glitches that initiated this fictional situation occurred more often than we knew at the time (read Richard Rhodes DARK SUN, for example), but fortunately none led to the horrific outcome depicted here.

What make this film retain its punch despite the outdated technology are the taught direction and photography, excellent performances, and superb dialog. Yes, the story is outrageous at times, but Director Lumet keeps things moving, and Fonda as the President lends an air of credibility.

The black and white images on this DVD are very crisp and clear. Director Lumet uses many close-ups. This is where the black and white photography really shines by showcasing lines, wrinkles, and reflections from beads of sweat and eyeballs. As explained in the commentary, much of his technique dates back to live television, and it shows; compare the imagery here to SEVEN DAYS IN MAY, another political thriller of the day.

 

 

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