James Poe’s taut and carefully-constructed screenplay forThe Bedford Incidentwas vividly adapted from Mark Rascovitch’s novel for the screen and made telling use of his experience as a US Navy lieutenant during World War Two. The script gave the film’s co-producer Richard Widmark the powerful role of the martinet captain of a United States destroyer whose crew not only follow him without question but tend towards hero-worship as well.
The new ship’s doctor Martin Balsam is amazed to discover no malingerers: the crew are as efficient as the electronic equipment they operate to track the movements of Soviet submarines in the north Atlantic. Easy-going journalist Sidney Poitier comes aboard the USS Bedford to do a story on Widmark and is both fascinated and frightened by him. Also new on the USS Bedford is young Ensign James MacArthur, who becomes the target of Widmark’s constant barbed criticisms, and former German U-boat commander Eric Portman, who is there as a NATO observer.
When a Russian submarine is located in Greenland’s territorial waters, Widmark asks permission from NATO Naval Command to force the vessel to surface. He is refused. The submarine makes a run for the open sea and Widmark orders pursuit in the knowledge that it can only remain submerged for a finite period. Widmark’s quarry apparently shakes off its pursuer and goes to ground in heavy pack ice. But, after a night of silent waiting, the submarine is forced to surface and, despite warnings from Portman, Widmark refuses to break off the mock action. After hours at action stations, his crew are tense and living on their nerves. MacArthur, mishearing an order, fires a nuclear missile at the submarine which is destroyed – but not before it has managed to launch atomic torpedoes at the Bedford…
The Bedford Incident marked the first film in which Poitier was cast simply as an actor and not as a black actor. The movie made no mention of his colour. Poitier, although his role was much less showy than Widmark’s, nevertheless gave a first-rate performance and made a strong impression. He ‘does an excellent job in both the light and serious aspects of his role,’ said Variety, ‘and manages to leave a personal stamp on all his scenes.’
USA / 102 minutes / 1965
Director:James B. Harris
Writers:James Poe, from the novel by Mark Rascovitch,
Richard Widmark as Captain Eric Finlander, U.S.N.
Eric Portman as Commodore Wolfgang Schrepke, Deutsche Marine
Sidney Poitier as Ben Munceford
James MacArthur as Ensign Ralston, U.S.N.
Martin Balsam as Lieut Cmdr. Chester Potter, M.D., U.S.N.
Wally Cox as Seaman Merlin Queffle
Michael Kane as Commander Allison Executive Officer – Bridge
Colin Maitland as Seaman Jones – Bridge
Paul Tamarin as Seaman 2nd Class – Bridge
Frank Lieberman as Seaman 1st Class – Bridge
Burnell Tucker as Seaman 1st Class – Bridge
James Caffrey as Seaman 1st Class – Bridge
Brian Davies as Lieutenant Beckman U.S.N. – Communications
Ed Bishop as Lieutenant Hacker U.S.N. – Communications
Shane Rimmer as Seaman 1st Class
Donald Sutherland as Hospitalman Nerney – Sick Bay
and this just in
Movie Legends: Cary Grant
In Charade, made in 1963, near the end of Cary Grant’s movie career, a smitten Regina Lampert, played by Audrey...
Spy In Black, The (1939, Conrad Veidt, Valerie Hobson)
‘Alex Korda used to say that I was the greatest technician he ever knew in his film career,’ said Michael...
Ransom (1996, Mel Gibson, Rene Russo)
The chances of the name Ron Howard occurring in the same sentence as ‘tough thriller’ always seemed pretty remote, but...
The Tao of Steve
Dex (Donal Logue) is a somewhat overweight kindergarten teacher whose idea of breakfast is a large draw on his bong....
Bad Day At Black Rock (1955, Spencer Tracy, Robert Ryan)
In Bad Day At Black Rock one-armed stranger John J Macreedy (Spencer Tracy, in one of his finest roles) becomes...
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Time’s Up For The Gang (FXX 26 Sep 2018)
Time’s Up For The Gang: Paddy’s has been put on a list of bars that are sexually hostile to women,...
Rake: Greene v The Unflushables (ABC 23 Sep 2018)
Greene v The Unflushables: After a 21-week term Peters is out as PM and Morrow is in; Cleaver’s own plumbing...
The Miniaturist: Episode 3 (PBS Run Series Final 23 Sep 2018)
Episode 3: While Johannes and Marin fight for their lives, Nella takes charge of the household. It’s worth noting that...
Sahara (1943, Humphrey Bogart, Bruce Bennett)
Sahara is a thrilling Second World War drama based on an incident in the 1937 Russian film Trinadstat / The...
Sleepy Hollow (2000, Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci)
Say what you like about director Tim Burton, even his lesser films (Batman Returns, Planet of the Apes) look good....
Human Traffic (1999, John Simm, Lorraine Pilkington)
Human Traffic is Justin Kerrigan’s hilarious look at the modern club scene shows the good times and the wild times...