The Cinema Museum, London

Tick, tick, tick… 16mm double bill by Lost Reels: Fail Safe (1964) and Juggernaut (1974)

Sat 19 Aug 2023 @ 18:00 · Events

Fail Safe - Juggernaut posterLost Reels continues its series of classics, curios and forgotten gems on 16mm with two edge-of-your-seat suspense thrillers: Sidney Lumet’s bleak cold war classic Fail Safe (1964), and Juggernaut (1974), Richard Lester’s brilliant ocean-bound bomb disposal nail-biter.

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 underappreciate its carefully constructed plot, meticulously researched bomb-disposal sequences, and sardonic commentary on a disintegrating 1970s Britain. Infrequently shown in theatres and virtually never on film, Lost Reels presents these two classics as a rare 16mm celluloid experience.

Fail SafeFail Safe (1964), directed by Sidney Lumet. Run time: 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.

JuggernautJuggernaut (1974), directed by Richard Lester. Run time: 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 held hostage to a bomber. Of the film’s superior elements Gerry Fisher’s involving documentary-style cinematography and an outstanding cast are instant 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.

The Films That Made Me book coverStop press: The Guardian‘s film writer Peter Bradshaw will be introducing Juggernaut and will also have some copies of his book The Films That Made Me available to buy… and he’ll sign them too!

Lost Reels is an independent film organisation dedicated to bringing forgotten, lost, or unavailable films back to UK cinemas. The 16mm series celebrates the modest and enduring 16mm format by screening classics, curios, and forgotten gems, mostly as double bills. Events consist of a well-known title paired with something more unusual, obscure, or even radical. The goal is to make each programme feel inspired. Visit Lost Reels at and follow on Twitter and Instagram at @lostreelsuk.

Doors open at 17.00, for a 18.00 start. Each film will be preceded by an introduction and the event will close with the poster raffle around 22.00.

Refreshments will be available in our licensed cafe/bar.


Tickets £14 in advance or on the door.

Advance tickets may be purchased from Ticketlab, or direct from the Museum by calling 020 7840 2200 in office hours.