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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 <email@example.com>
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 percent of its population and in which Russia's war dead totaled more than 300,000. See more »
The German officer is using British Barr and Stroud naval binoculars. See more »
Trouble with that kid, he can't forget what a big hero he was. Star quarterback... voted Most All-Around, Most Likely, Most Popular... that one he's still bucking for. The only way to cut him down to size is to keep on him.
Yeah, if he survives.
Well, I hammer too hard, you let me know.
Yeah, it's a lot of work being a mean bastard.
Hmm. Sometimes I can't help admiring how effortlessly you do it, captain. Almost as if it came naturally.
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Richard Widmark is a determined naval ship captain in "The Bedford Incident," which also stars Sidney Poitier, Eric Portman, Martin Balsam, James Macarthur, and Wally Cox. This is quite a different meeting from the one Widmark and Poitier had in "No Way Out," where Widmark is a bigot who lashes out at Poitier. Poitier in this film plays a journalist, and there is never any mention of his color. This is not only remarkable but marvelous. Martin Balsam is the ship's new doctor. Poitier and Balsam board ship together and pick up almost immediately that there is a tension on board and that the men are intimidated by their cold, tough captain.
The Bedford's assignment is to patrol for Russian subs and ships.
When a submarine is detected in the area, the captain seems to want to take the matter too far. Portman, as a German adviser, disagrees with him.
The role of the captain, Finlander, is the type of role normally associated with Widmark, and he is excellent as an uncompromising man reminiscent of Captain Queeg. Poitier turns in a stellar performance, which really builds as he becomes more and more concerned about the captain and the potential international situation. Martin Balsam is very good, actually providing, along with Wally Cox, a little comic relief.
The scenes showing the gray sea and huge icebergs might be dated now, given what film technology is capable of, but they are no less evocative of the atmosphere. After the buildup of drama and tension, the last moments of the film are incredibly exciting - staggering even. And you'll do what I did - just sit and stare at the words "The End." A very good film.
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