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Movies: “Fail-Safe”

Apr. 20, 1963 - “Dr. Strangelove” has company. “Fail-Safe,” which, like “Dr. Strangelove,” is being released by Columbia Pictures and deals with the possibility of an accidental H-Bomb holocaust, went before the cameras Monday in New York. The drama, directed by Sidney Lumet from a script by Walter Bernstein, is set to be completed on a 30-day schedule. The cast, including Henry Fonda as the President of the United States, Dan O’Herlihy as a general, and Walter Matthau as an electronics expert, will not do too much traveling. Except for short location stints at La Guardia airport and several other local sites, they will work at the Fox Movietone Studios, where every “site” needed, including a set representing the White House and underground bomb shelters in Washington, have been constructed. The screenplay is derived from the best-selling novel of the same name by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler. The story was initially serialized in three installments in the Saturday Evening Post, on October 13, 20, and 27, 1962, during the Cuban crisis. The title refers to the “fail-safe point” used by the Strategic Air Command (SAC) to prevent any SAC bomber from accidentally crossing into Soviet airspace and precipitating a nuclear war.


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