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The Bedford Incident (1965)

Approved | | Drama, Thriller | 12 November 1965 (Japan)
An American destroyer captain is determined to confront a Soviet submarine caught violating territorial waters. Perhaps too determined.

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Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Captain Eric Finlander U.S.N.
...
Ben Munceford
...
Ensign Ralston (as James Macarthur)
...
Lieut Cmdr. Chester Potter, M.D., U.S.N.
...
Seaman Merlin Queffle
...
Commodore Wolfgang Schrepke Deutsche Marine
Michael Kane ...
Commander Allison Executive Officer - Bridge
Colin Maitland ...
Seaman Jones - Bridge
Paul Tamarin ...
Seaman 2nd Class - Bridge
Frank Lieberman ...
Seaman 1st Class - Bridge
...
Seaman 1st Class - Bridge
Burnell Tucker ...
Seaman 1st Class - Bridge
...
Lieutenant Krindlemeyer U.S.N. - Bridge
...
Lieutenant Hazelwood U.S.N. - Bridge
...
Seaman 2nd Class - Bridge (as Stephen Von Schreiber)

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Storyline

Richard Widmark plays a hardened cold-warrior and captain of the American destroyer USS Bedford. Sidney Poitier is a reporter given permission to interview the captain during a routine patrol. Poitier gets more than he bargained for when the Bedford discovers a Soviet sub in the depths and the captain begins a relentless pursuit, pushing his crew to the breaking point. This one's grim tension to the end. Written by KC Hunt <khunt@eng.morgan.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

As earth-shattering, and unexpected, as catching lightning in a bottle! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

|

Release Date:

12 November 1965 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Zwischenfall im Atlantik  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The name of the Bedford's captain, "Eric Finlander" (played by Richard Widmark) is an obvious reference to the nation of Finland, which has a long and troubled history with its much larger neighbor to its east, the USSR/Russia. Finland was actually part of Russia for more than a century and as an independent nation fought Russia in the Winter War and the Continuation War, which together cost Finland 10% of its population and in which Russia's war dead totaled more than 300,000. See more »

Goofs

At the beginning of the movie, when Sidney Poitier is being lowered from the helicopter, his hands switch between black and Caucasian (white) hands. Clearly, the stunt double is white. See more »

Quotes

Commodore Schrepke: That permission specifically said "if the sub is still in territorial waters", is that not so?
Captain Finlander: A matter of interpretation, Commodore.
Commodore Schrepke: But the Russian is in international waters. The ocean is free, my captain.
Captain Finlander: Yeah, so it is.
Commodore Schrepke: So you have lost your opportunity. It was magnificent -
Captain Finlander: Look, if I catch a man robbing my house and he makes a break for the street, do I let him go just because he made it to the sidewalk?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in American Masters: Sidney Poitier: One Bright Light (2000) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Great Psychological Suspense
12 July 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Spoilers Ahead:

A much more subtle, more sophisticated movie than The Caine Mutiny, free of that film's naive stridency. It is not so jingoistic as befits a film from the counterculture of the 1960s when values where under assault. Widmark like Bogie has something not quite right with him. Bogie's Queeg had obvious dysfunctions that were, frankly, a bit too salient for believability. Queeg's love of mindless drilling, his obsessive cleanliness and cowardliness were drawn so broadly; it damaged the movie's credibility. What I love about this movie, besides the unrelenting tension, is the realism of the movie. You will really feel you are aboard the ship Widmark's beating upon MacArthur, coupled with his flinching visibly when the doctor makes the mistake of saying women, can you tell Freudianism was in its heyday? , all are early warning signs something is not quite right with Widmark. The trigger is when a Russian ship lowers it flag as a common sign of deference, when Widmark does not return the courtesy, they proceed to dump garbage in the sea while glaring at him. That does it, Widmark takes it as a personal insult. He stalks back into the bridge,"You still want to exchange courtesies with our Russian friends."

From this point on he begins to come apart at the seems, the reformed Nazi Commodore picks up on it right away. He begins watching him quietly and worriedly. Poitier gives such a great performance; what made him such a powerful actor is, like Brando, he says so much with his expressive eyes. You can tell right away Poitier senses Widmark is a time bomb; watch Widmark go Postal when Poitier gently suggests maybe this is why he has been passed over for promotion; his open contempt for civilian control which he makes no mystery about. The film builds gently to its powerful climax. The events which would have seemed ridiculous are rational consequences of Widmark's flaws carried to their logical conclusion. The movie echoes Dr. Strangelove, while totally humorless, human irrationality coupled with nuclear weapons has but one ineluctable, tragic outcome. In a WW2 ship, the consequences would have been prosaic, here they are cataclysmic. The director, like Kubrick, wants you to see the instrument of Armageddon: human irrationality combined with nuclear technology.

The acting in the movie is above average. Poitier steals the movie and is the best actor here including Widmark. At this point in his life he had been somewhat typecast as a dangerous loony; somewhat the 50s version of Bruce Dern. Widmark did play other roles but in his best movies he is crazy: Kiss Of Death, Road House, and here. This is such a hidden little gem that will surprise you. I am waiting for the blu ray; I may give up and buy the DVD. It is a great movie.


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