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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.



(novel), (screenplay)

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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. See more awards »



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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
Stephen Schreiber ...
Seaman 2nd Class - Bridge (as Stephen Von Schreiber)


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

Plot Keywords:

reporter | ship's crew | nato | navy | nuke | See All (38) »


The cold war just got hotter. See more »


Drama | Thriller


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

12 November 1965 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Zwischenfall im Atlantik  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


As the actions of the Captain become more obsessive, Munceford tells him "You're not chasing whales now!" This is a reference to Captain Ahab, the single-minded whaling captain in "Moby Dick" by Herman Melville, whose obsession leads to the destruction of his crew, and on whom the character of Captain Finlander was ultimately based. See more »


When "Big Red" is detected on sonar in the ice field, Queffle, the sonar operator, confirms that he has as sonar contact, classified positive submarine, and that it's range is opening with slight "down" Doppler. The audio track, however, has a very definite "up" Doppler, indicating that the submarine is moving toward the ship. See more »


Ben Munceford: I've heard a lot about you, Commodore, but I never expected I'd meet you.
Commodore Schrepke: Is that so?
Ben Munceford: Not aboard an American destroyer.
Commodore Schrepke: (Is) that so surprising in these times?
Ben Munceford: I guess not, if one can make the switch mentally. But I, uh... I still connect you with... Hitler's navy.
Commodore Schrepke: Your pardon: Admiral Dönitz's navy, sir.
See more »


Referenced in Some Call It History (2015) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

" If He Fires One . . . . . I'll Fire One "
29 August 2007 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

The Cold War is one of the world's most frightening conflicts ever as it nearly extinguished humanity. During this time, suspicious nations rattled atomic sabers at one another and secret agencies scurried about disseminating Ideological propaganda and psychological warfare, but for the most part the only thing accomplished was that Americans spent billions threatening a distant enemy who ultimately became our friend. One exceptional film which appear during this era, was " The Bedford Incident." It is the story of an American reporter Ben Munceford (Sidney Poitier) who seeks out a controversial naval officer, because he believes him to be a rare individual. That particular man is Captain Eric Finlander. (Richard Widmark) a no-nonsense commander who is determined to do his duty, even if it means destroying a stray Russian Submarine, armed with nuclear missiles. While Munceford is trying to fathom the Captain, he notices everyone under Finlander's command is being subjected to increasing pressure, enormous stress and intolerable strain to remain on high alert as if war could be initiated at any time. From an audience point of view, the tension on board the Bedford, mirrors the terrifying state of fear in the world. Helping the audience analyze the situation is Lieut. Cmdr. Chester Potter (Martin Balsam) a naval Doctor who warns the Captain of mounting psychological dangers of his crew. One such officer is Ensign Ralston (James MacArthur) who the doctor warns is wound 'too tight' to be on duty. Another is Seaman Merlin Queffle (Wally Cox) who believes he controls the ship. This is a remarkable film, for it's characters, it's drama and eventually it's inevitable ending. It's a reminder, the fears we create are as real as our nightmares. ****

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