Capital Celluloid 2023 — Day 230: Sat Aug 19

Fail Safe (Lumet, 1964) & Juggernaut (Lester, 1974): Cinema Museum, 6pm

Lost Reels continues its series of classics, curios and forgotten gems on 16mm with two edge-of-your-seat suspense thrillers.

Time Out review of Fail Safe:
Eclipsed by its contemporary, Dr Strangelove, Fail Safe eschews the former's black humour and opts for a deadly serious mix of cold-war melodrama and rampant psychosis. Creeping unease builds up to terminal paranoia as the machines run away from their masters, the 'fail safe' fails, and the unstoppable 'Vindicator' bomber homes in on Moscow - all by accident. Lumet sensibly avoids pyrotechnics in favour of tightening the psychological screws, as Larry Hagman (the president's translator - nice looking kid) does nervy trade-offs on the hot-line, and everyone, from President Fonda down, starts drowning in a sea of cold sweat.
Chris Peachment


Time Out review of Juggernaut:
Juggernaut has been stuck with a 'disaster movie' tag when in fact it bears little relation to the Hollywood crop of calamities. The potential catastrophe here is seven steel drums of amatol timed to go off and destroy 1,200 passengers unless a ransom is delivered to the mysterious Juggernaut. But Lester's movie is no glossy catalogue of modern living with a holocaust thrown in for the climax. On the contrary, it is a penetrating and sardonic commentary on a fading and troubled Britain, neatly characterised by the lumberingly chaotic ocean liner, 'The Britannic', in which everything is falling apart: newly fitted stabilisers rock the boat, the general facilities are shabby and run down, bombs keep exploding to the dismay of the stoical passengers. Anyone who's ever had to endure that peculiar form of torture, the luxury ocean liner, will find an exact description here with not a jot of misery omitted. The pace of the thriller aspect is unflagging, and the characters are unerringly drawn, from the perfect casting of Omar Sharif as the seedy, demoralised captain, to Richard Harris as the bomb expert (the film's research in this direction is painstaking). Without a doubt, one of the best movies of 1974.
David Pirie

Here (and above) is the trailer.

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