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fail-safe

fail-safe • adj. causing a piece of machinery or other mechanism to revert to a safe condition in the event of a breakdown or malfunction. ∎  unlikely or unable to fail: that computer is supposed to be fail-safe. • n. a system or plan that comes into operation when something goes wrong or prevents such an occurrence.

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fail-safe

fail-safe Denoting or relating to a computer system that does not make an error in spite of the occurrence of a single fault. See also fault-tolerant system.

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Fail-Safe

Fail-Safe ★★★½ 1964

A nail-biting nuclear age nightmare, in which American planes have been erroneously sent to bomb the USSR, with no way to recall them. An all-star cast impels this bitterly serious thriller, the straight-faced flipside of “Dr. Strangelove.” 111m/B VHS, DVD . Henry Fonda, Dan O'Herlihy, Walter Matthau, Larry Hagman, Fritz Weaver, Dom DeLuise; D: Sidney Lumet; W: Walter Bernstein; C: Gerald Hirschfeld.

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Fail-Safe

Fail-Safe

Released in 1964, Director Sidney Lumet's taut nuclear thriller is based on the 1962 Eugene Burdick and John Wheeler novel of the same title. Examining the changing face of war in the nuclear age, Fail-Safe depicts the possible consequences of the military's ever increasing reliance on computers. This is where Fail-Safe differs from its famous cousin of the genre, Dr. Strangelove, where a lone military madman plots an atomic attack upon the Soviet Union. In Fail-Safe nuclear apocalypse is at hand as an electronic error directs a squadron of U.S. long-range bombers to drop their nuclear payloads on Moscow. Through the exchange of sharp dialogue, the concepts of limited war in the nuclear age, the decreased time of humans to analyze potential nuclear strikes, and the survival of a nation's culture after the bomb are effectively challenged.

—Dr. Lori C. Walters

Further Reading:

Burdick, Eugene, and John Harvey Wheeler. Fail-Safe. New York, McGraw-Hill, 1962.

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