Tick, Tick, Tick... continues Lost Reels' series of classics, curios and forgotten gems on 16mm with two ticking time bomb thrillers. With nail-biting stories and incisive social commentary both were underappreciated upon initial release. Sidney Lumet’s Fail Safe (1964) was overshadowed by the similarly plotted and stylistically more radical Dr. Strangelove (1964) but has since earned its place alongside Kubrick’s masterpiece. Stark and humorless, it’s a terrifying indictment of mutually assured destruction and cold war paranoia. Richard Lester’s Juggernaut (1974) was considered a ‘disaster film’ by many, causing audiences to undervalue its carefully constructed plot, meticulously researched bomb-disposal sequences, and sardonic commentary on a disintegrating 1970s Britain. Infrequently shown and virtually never on film, Lost Reels presents these two classics as a rare 16mm celluloid experience.
Fail Safe (1964), directed by Sidney Lumet. B&W. Cert PG. 112 minutes.
Made shortly after the Cuban Missile crisis, critic Danny Peary called Fail Safe, “Dr. Strangelove without the humor,” and indeed it is. The scenario of US planes erroneously instructed to drop nuclear bombs on Russia and impervious to recall unfolds in grim, precise detail. Director Sidney Lumet is unrelenting as he ratchets up the tension, limiting the film to three principal locations and slowly closing in on the characters as their attempts to avert disaster repeatedly fail. Filmed in stark black and white and absent of a music score, terse phone calls, sweaty close-ups, and crude war room maps comprise the storytelling as the Americans alert their Russian counterparts and attempt to prevent global nuclear war. The excellent cast includes Henry Fonda as a calm ethical president, Walter Matthau as a controversial military strategist, and a young Larry Hagman as the president’s nervy Russian translator. One of the most devastating climaxes ever filmed.
16mm print courtesy of The Cinema Museum
Juggernaut (1974), directed by Richard Lester. Colour. Cert PG. 109 minutes.
Inheriting the project after two previous directors had stepped down, Richard Lester rewrote the screenplay to create simultaneously a nail-biting thriller and a sardonic critique of 1970s Britain. The lumbering ocean liner ‘The Britannic’ is in a constant state of disrepair, something the passengers and crew seem resigned to accept until they learn the ship is rigged with explosives and they are hostage to a bomber. Of the film’s superior elements, the involving documentary-style cinematography by Gerry Fisher and outstanding cast are call-outs - not just Richard Harris, Omar Sharif, Shirley Knight, David Hemmings, Ian Holm and Anthony Hopkins – but in smaller parts, Freddie Jones, Roshan Seth, Julian Glover, Clifton James and a career-best turn from Roy Kinnear. The gripping and meticulously researched third act when Harris and Hemmings attempt to diffuse the bomb is a genuine tour-de-force and confirms the film as a suspense classic.
16mm print courtesy of Lost Reels.
Many thanks to Peter Bradshaw for his support and participation.
Continuing our celebration of original hand painted poster art all ticket holders will be entered into a free raffle for an original vintage US one sheet poster of Juggernaut