[flying over New York City] We've all been briefed on the mission, so there is nothing more to say. I only have one last order...no one else is to have anything to do with the dropping of the bombs. I repeat, I will fly the plane and release the bombs. The final act is mine.
[dying words] Katie...a dream...a dream...the matador...the matador... the matador...me...me.
Female Party Guest: Two hours ago, you said a hundred million dead. Now you say sixty million.
Professor Groeteschele: I say sixty million is perhaps the highest price we should be prepared to pay in a war.
Mr. Foster: And what's the difference between sixty million dead and a hundred million?
Professor Groeteschele: forty million.
Mr. Foster: Some difference!
Professor Groeteschele: Are you prepared to say the saving of forty million lives is of no importance?
Mr. Foster: You miss the point, Professor! The saving of those sixty million lives is what's important!
Professor Groeteschele: Face facts, Mr. Foster. We're talking about war. I say every war, including thermonuclear war, must have a winner and a loser. Which would you rather be?
Mr. Foster: In a nuclear war, everyone loses! War isn't what it used to be.
Professor Groeteschele: It's the resolution of economic and political conflict.
Mr. Foster: But what kind of resolution with a hundred million dead?!
Professor Groeteschele: It doesn't have to be a hundred million.
Mr. Foster: Even sixty!
Professor Groeteschele: The same as a thousand years ago, sir. We also had wars that wiped out whole peoples. The point is still who wins and who loses, the survival of a culture.
Mr. Foster: A culture?! With most of its people dead?! The rest dying, the food poisoned! The air unfit to breathe! You call that a culture?!
Professor Groeteschele: Yes, I do, Mr. Foster. I am not a poet. I am a political scientist, who would rather have an American culture survive than a Russian one.
Female Party Guest: But what would it be like? I mean, really like?! Who would survive?
Professor Groeteschele: Who would survive? That's an interesting question. I would predict . . . convicts and file clerks. [A male guest laughs.] The worst convicts. Those deep down in solitary confinement. And the most ordinary file clerks. Probably for large insurance companies, because they would be in fire-proof rooms, protected by tons of the best insulator in the world: paper. And imagine what will happen. The small group of vicious criminals will fight the army of file clerks for the remaining means of life. The convicts will know violence, but the file clerks will know organization. Who do think'll win? [There is a long pause, and then he laughs.] It's all hypotheses of course, but fun to play around with.
Ilsa Woolfe: You could joke about the convicts and file clerks because you know there won't be any survivors, will there?
Professor Groeteschele: Not many.
Ilsa Woolfe: None. None at all. That's the beauty of it.
Professor Groeteschele: I've heard nuclear war called a lotta things, Miss Woolfe. Never beautiful.
Ilsa Woolfe: People are afraid to call it that, but that's what they feel.
Professor Groeteschele: The beauty of death?
Ilsa Woolfe: Don't patronize me. What else but that are you selling, Professor? And we all know we're going to die, but you make a game out of it, a marvelous game that includes the whole world. You make it seem possible.
Professor Groeteschele: It is possible. Even probable.
Ilsa Woolfe: You make death and entertainment something that can be played in a living room.
Professor Groeteschele: As good a place as any.
Ilsa Woolfe: No. No, there's an even better place. Turn in there. [Professor Groeteschele steers his car into that road and stops the car.]
Professor Groeteschele: This where you live?
Ilsa Woolfe: [laughs] Don't joke.
Professor Groeteschele: Why not? I'm a joker. I make death into a game for people like you to get excited about. I watched you tonight. You'd love making it possible, wouldn't you? You'd love pressing that button. What a thrill that would be, knowing you have to die to have the power to take everyone else with you. The mob of them with their plans, their little hopes, born to be murdered. Turning away from it, closing their eyes to it, and you could be the one to make it true. Do it to them. But you're afraid, so you look for the thrill someplace else. And who better than a man who isn't afraid? [Ilsa Woolfe tries seducing him, and he slaps her.] I'm not your kind.
Billy Flynn: Ploesti. That was the rough one. We lost half our group.
Colonel Jack Grady, USAF: Regensburg was the worst one for us.
Billy Flynn: I never flew the B-17. Only 24s.
Colonel Jack Grady, USAF: Good airplane, the 24. Least you knew you were flying the airplane, not the other way around, like today's things.
Billy Flynn: Eh, you still have to fly the Vindicator, Grady.
Colonel Jack Grady, USAF: We're the last of the lot, Flynn. Don't kid yourself about that. The next airplanes, they won't need men.
Billy Flynn: You'll be too old, anyway.
Colonel Jack Grady, USAF: After us, the machines. We're halfway there already. Look at those kids. Remember the crews you had on the 24s? Jews, Italians, all kinds. You could tell them apart. They were all people. These kids. You open them up, you find they run on transistors.
Billy Flynn: Nah, they're good kids, I tell you.
Colonel Jack Grady, USAF: Sure, you know they're at their jobs, but you don't know them. How can you? Get a different crew every time we go up.
Billy Flynn: That's policy, Grady. Eliminates the personal factor. Everything's more complicated now. Reaction time's faster. You can't depend on people the same way.
Colonel Jack Grady, USAF: Who do you depend on?
Officer: Alright, gentleman. The sky awaits.
Colonel Jack Grady, USAF: You know something, Billy? I like the personal factor.
(The beeping noise of the Fail-Safe box activates)
Colonel Grady: There must be some mistake. Check Omaha.
Airman Thomas: (activating the radio, and getting nothing) Can't get through, Colonel. Interference.
Colonel Grady: What do you mean you can't get through? What kind of interference?
Airman Thomas: I don't know, Sir, it's a kind I've never heard before.
Colonel Grady: Well try another band! Try all of them!
Airman Thomas: (after futile effort to get through) Can't get through, Colonel!
Airman Sullivan: They must be trying to keep us from getting our Go signal.
Airman Thomas: Well they're too late for that.
[On the reliability of computers.]
General Bogan: Mr. Knapp here knows as much about electronic gear as anyone. He'd like to say something.
Gordon Knapp: The more complex an electronic system gets, the more accident prone it is. Sooner or later it breaks down.
Secretary Swenson: What breaks down?
Gordon Knapp: A transistor blows . . . a condenser burns out . . . sometimes they just get tired--like people.
Professor Groeteschele: Mr. Knapp overlooks one factor, the machines are supervised by humans. Even if the machine fails a human can always correct the mistake.
Gordon Knapp: I wish you were right. The fact is, the machines work so fast . . . they are so intricate . . . the mistakes they make are so subtle . . . that very often a human being just can't know whether a machine is lying or telling the truth.
[on Groeteschele recommending a first strike]
General Black: You're justifying murder.
Professor Groeteschele: Yes, to keep from being murdered!
General Black: In the name of what? To preserve what?
U.S. Ambassador to Moscow: Mr. President!
The President: Yes, Jay?
U.S. Ambassador to Moscow: I can hear the sound of explosions from the northeast! The sky is very bright, all lit up- [he is cut off by high, shrill sound of the Ambassador's phone melting from the nuclear blast]
The President: [on the intercom] Put me through to General Black.
General Black: Yes, Mr. President?
The President: Blackie...
General Black: [obviously upset] Yes, Mr. President?
The President: [sighing in resignation] Moscow's been destroyed. Drop your bombs according to plan.