62 user 19 critic

The Bedford Incident (1965)

Approved | | Drama, Thriller | 12 November 1965 (Japan)
3:14 | Trailer
An American destroyer Captain is determined to confront a Soviet submarine caught violating territorial waters. Perhaps too determined.


James B. Harris


Mark Rascovich (novel), James Poe (screenplay)
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Widmark ... Capt. Eric Finlander U.S.N.
Sidney Poitier ... Ben Munceford
James MacArthur ... Ens. Ralston (as James Macarthur)
Martin Balsam ... Lt. Cmdr. Chester Potter M.D., U.S.N.
Wally Cox ... Seaman Merlin Queffle
Eric Portman ... Commodore Wolfgang Schrepke - Deutsche Marine
Michael Kane Michael Kane ... Cmdr. Allison - Executive Officer, Bridge
Colin Maitland ... Seaman Jones - Bridge
Paul Tamarin Paul Tamarin ... Seaman 2nd Class - Bridge
Frank Lieberman Frank Lieberman ... Seaman 1st Class - Bridge
James Caffrey ... Seaman 1st Class - Bridge
Burnell Tucker ... Seaman 1st Class - Bridge
Mike Lennox Mike Lennox ... Lt. Krindlemeyer U.S.N. - Bridge (as Michael Graham)
Bill Edwards ... 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


A relentless pursuit to the breaking point. See more »


Drama | Thriller


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


This had earlier been announced to star James Mason. See more »


An earlier post stated that the Navy of the mid-60's was segregated and Black sailors could only serve in limited categories. That is untrue. The U.S. military was desegregated in 1947 by President Truman and Navy rates (jobs) were open on a race-free basis. See more »


[after Finlander orders an anti-submarine rocket armed]
Commodore Schrepke: This is insane!
Captain Finlander: Now don't worry, Commodore. The Bedford'll never fire first. But if he fires one, I'll fire one.
Ensign Ralston: [launching the rocket] Fire One!
See more »

Alternate Versions

Reportedly, there are two versions with different endings. One version ends with a missile being fired and a torpedo being released from the sub seconds before. In another version the sub is destroyed, and later that evening the German commodore is found aiming a .45 at the nose cone of a live missile. The captain asks why, the commodore gives some reply and pulls the trigger. Mr. Munceford is blown over the side, but survives. See more »


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

User Reviews

Playing Nuclear Tag
31 July 2008 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

The Bedford Incident is a Cold War Navy story with the captain of the destroyer, USS Bedford playing a game of cat and mouse with a Soviet submarine which has strayed inside the territorial waters of Greenland.

These kinds of things happened quite a lot during those tension filled days of the Cold War. Fortunately neither we or the Soviets had a captain like Richard Widmark who is determined to push the envelope all the way if he can.

On the voyage that this game of nuclear tag takes place, Widmark is saddled with a pair of outsiders and he doesn't like it at all. First is Sidney Poitier a photojournalist who constantly keeps getting underfoot as Widmark sees it. The second is a medical officer Martin Balsam whom he didn't request.

Widmark is a frightening man. He keeps everything and everyone on the ship so tense he's even got Eric Portman concerned. Portman is a NATO adviser and a former German U-Boat commander. As Poitier says, 'Hitler's Navy to which he's corrected, 'no Admiral Doenitz's Navy.

Under his command, young ensign James MacArthur is afraid to breathe wrong and sonar man Wally Cox suffers a nervous breakdown. The lack of relief for both of these guys has tragic results.

The Bedford Incident remains a curiously forgotten film while such work as Dr. Strangelove and Failsafe people remember better. That's not right, The Bedford Incident is in some respects superior to both of those classics. It's about the strain of command as much as anything else and it's also about the dangers of a truculent attitude in the person with the command.

Hopefully this forgotten classic will get more recognition one day.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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English | Russian

Release Date:

12 November 1965 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

The Bedford Incident See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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