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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great performance, good film
Similar to some other films of the cold war genre ("Seven Days in May", "Fail-Safe"), this has a decidedly anti-war/anti-military slant, where in this case the two people who are most "in control" are a journalist, played by Sidney Poitier, and an ex-Nazi naval commander (well played by Eric Portman).
This is Richard Widmark's show though, who with his craggy looks...
Published on 7 Aug. 2004 by Alejandra Vernon

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars If you're looking for a good cold-war film
A disappointing and dated film, ploddingly directed and produced. The plot takes forever to get to the point and, when it does, it really isn't worth waiting for. If you're looking for a good cold-war film, try Thirteen Days - a much more involving production. As for this film, I really wouldn't waste your time - unless you're trying to cure insomnia!
Published 4 months ago by Ricky


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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great performance, good film, 7 Aug. 2004
Similar to some other films of the cold war genre ("Seven Days in May", "Fail-Safe"), this has a decidedly anti-war/anti-military slant, where in this case the two people who are most "in control" are a journalist, played by Sidney Poitier, and an ex-Nazi naval commander (well played by Eric Portman).
This is Richard Widmark's show though, who with his craggy looks and fierce eyes makes the most of his part as Eric Finlander, captain of the U.S.S. Bedford, patrolling the icy waters of the North Atlantic, looking for Soviet submarines. Finlander is a loose cannon, bypassed for promotion, and irrationally hard on his crew.
Others in the cast of note are James MacArthur, very good as a young ensign, Martin Balsam as the ship's doctor, Wally Cox, Michael Kane, and in a small part, Donald Sutherland, recognizable more by his unique voice than his face.
The sound is fantastic; from the first few minutes, with its combination of excellent modernistic score by Gerard Schurmann, howling wind, and circling helicopter, it captures one's attention, and keeps the tension going in this fine sea thriller. It also has some stylish b&w cinematography by Gilbert Taylor, with terrific contrast of light and shadow.
Entertaining and well paced, with every minute of Widmark's screen time riveting, this taut drama is well worth spending 102 minutes of your time on.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Bedford Incident - The cold war warms up in this tense thriller, 4 Jan. 2011
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bedford Incident [DVD] [1965] [2004] (DVD)
A thoroughly enjoyable and gripping cold war drama. American Destroyer Captain Eric Finlander is obsessed with finding Russian submarines in territorial waters. He is undoubtedly very good at his job and tactically brilliant, but passed over for promotion and with outspoken hardline views is he really the sort of person for handling such a delicate task? Reporter Ben Munceford is not too sure, especially given the ship's recordfor transfers and sickleave. He wonders if the crew are not all dangerously driven, and wangles a few days `observing' on the ship in the hope of getting a story.

The tension soon mounts when Finlander gets on the scent of a red submarine and gives chase. A game of cat and mouse ensues which builds to a thrilling climax as Finlander pushes his crew to the limits of physical and mental endurance.

The film is well directed, but it is so filled with quality actors that a good film was guaranteed, no matter who was directing. Richard Widmark dominates as Finlander, portraying a hardnosed and driven man, but not without a human side. Sidney Poitier puts in another great turn as the concerned Munceford, observing, questioning and concerned. Eric Portman steals every scene he is in as the ex Nazi sub commander on board to advise Finlander as to sub tactics. Great actors, great performances. All in all it makes a gripping and tense film whose 98 min runtime just zips by.

This 2004 Columbia release is pretty good. The black and white print has a good transfer and has little or no defects. The soundtrack is mono only, and again is in good shape. The picture is in 1:1.85 widescreen. There are no extras. A very acceptable presentation of a corking good thriller. Four stars.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yeah, it's a lot of work being a mean bastard., 9 Feb. 2011
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bedford Incident [DVD] [1965] [2004] (DVD)
The Bedford Incident is directed by James B. Harris and is adapted by James Poe from the 1963 book by Mark Rascovich. It stars Richard Widmark and Sidney Poitier, with Widmark co-producing. The cast also features James McArthur, Martin Balsam, Wally Cox and Eric Portman, as well as early appearances by Donald Sutherland and Ed Bishop.

The story is set during the Cold War and focuses on the captain and crew of the USS Bedford as it patrols the North Atlantic waters for Russian submarine activities. Capt. Eric Findlander (Widmark) is a tough authoritarian figure who drives his crew hard and keeps them ever ready for any sort of incidents that may arise. They respond loyally to his ethics, this is a crew where nobody ever goes on sick call such is the hard approach instilled in them by their captain. Two newcomers have boarded the ship by helicopter: Ben Munceford (Poitier), a liberal newspaper journalist, assigned to write a story about the Bedford and its grizzled captain and a ship's doctor, Lieut. Comdr. Chester Potter (Balsam), a reserve officer who has volunteered for active duty. Both men are quickly disliked by Findlander, he sees their being there as intrusive and upsetting the tough equilibrium of his ship. When a Russian sub is spotted unlawfully in Greenland's territorial icy waters, Finlander stalks it ready to take action. But the top brass doesn't want a perilous situation arising between the two nuclear powered ships and orders Finlander to sit tight, something he is unable to comprehend and intends to do things his own way. With his hard driven crew at breaking point, this could turn into a catastrophic incident........

Taut, tense and impeccably acted by the cast, The Bedford Incident is a superior psycho-drama that feeds off of the paranoia of the Cold War and cloaks it in military claustrophobia. It offers up the dangers of military aggression fuelled by some sense of patriotic duty, with an intriguing "hunt till we drop" iron fist ethic making for an engrossing narrative thread. The film of course is not alone in the "doomsday" scheme of things, even the previous year had seen the release of Sidney Lumet's Fail-Safe and Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove (a link here coming courtesy of James B. Harris having been Kubrick's producer for almost ten years), but Harris' movie is more than the equal of any other film with the same thematics. The box office returns for the film at the time didn't do it justice, but time has been kind to the movie. For now it can be viewed as a lesson in jangling the nerves, a reference point in how to script polar opposite characters; thriving on dialogue set in amongst murky military zeal and an unstable political environment. Now more than ever the film serves as a cautionary tale. Tho there's some differences from the book, the film follows the novel fairly closely. However, the big change comes with the ending. I don't consider it hyperbole to suggest that the ending to the film is stunning. A fitting closure to the piece and the ultimate release from the stifling grip that the makers had held the viewers in throughout the story. Shot in stark black and white by Gilbert Taylor and with Widmark at the top of his game, The Bedford Incident is a must see for the serious War movie fan. 8/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Cold War Adventure, 30 Jun. 2012
By 
Mrs. Marilyn A. Rice "RR" (sussex) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bedford Incident [DVD] [1965] [2004] (DVD)
In this very good underrated cold war thriller Richard Widmark does a great performance as a mean captain who is obsessed in finding a Soviet submarine and their is also a terrific supporting cast, including Sidney Poitier, Martin Balsam, Eric Portman, James MacArthur and Wally Cox. But I have to say Martin Balsam does the best performance for me as the commander and his performance is great towards the end when he shows his anger towards the nasty Richard Widmark and I do think Martin Balsam should have been nominated for an oscar for best supporting actor, which he did win an oscar that year for "A thousand clowns". I also think Richard Widmark should have been nominated for an oscar for his very good lead performance and his acting chemistry between the great Sidney Poitier is entertaining to watch and this was their third and final movie together, which their other films together were "No way out" and "The long ships" and they were very good friends in real life. Sidney Poitier also does an impressive performance as a jornalist who wants to know whats going on in Richard Widmark's ship and a older looking Eric Portman is very good as a german commander. James MacArthur and Wally Cox are also very good when they are on the spotlight and a young Donald Sutherland has a early small role in the beginning of the film as hospitalman nerny. The ending of the film is shocking but powerful to watch and I was not expecting the ending to happen the way it did and it's one of those movies which you will be on the edge of your seat throughout the film. The black and white cinematography suits the film very well and it has a dark and claustrophobic look to it and if you have not seen this classic movie then it well worth buying and I would give it 8/10. Another great cold war movie to watch with Richard Widmark is "Twillights last gleaming" which is another underrated great.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superior, Character-Based Cold War Thriller, 22 Feb. 2015
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bedford Incident [DVD] [1965] [2004] (DVD)
This 1965 'cold-war thriller’ directed by (then Stanley Kubrick’s producer) James B Harris fits firmly into that era of films depicting the risks of nuclear conflict, which includes the likes of Kubrick’s own Dr Strangelove and Sidney Lumet’s Failsafe (both made just prior to Harris’ film). In fact, some people might take issue with the use of 'thriller’ to describe Mark Rascovich’s tale (on whose novel Harris’ film was based) of American warship USS Bedford tracking a Soviet submarine in 'near-Arctic’ waters since, until the film’s final half-hour at least, Harris’ film is more a claustrophobic, compelling, and increasingly tense, character-based drama (showcasing a number of outstanding acting turns) rather than an out-and-out action film.

At the film’s core is a superb performance from 'Hollywood veteran’ (though actually only 51 at the time) Richard Widmark as the resentful, cynical, officious 'career militarist’, Captain Eric Finlander, whose 'vacuum-sealed’ world aboard the Bedford is infiltrated by the 'parachuting in’ of Sidney Poitier’s photo-journalist, Ben Munceford, and Martin Balsam’s 'reservist’ veteran doctor, Chester Potter. Interestingly, although it was Poitier who received joint top billing with Widmark for the film, for me, it is Balsam who (along with Widmark) steals the acting honours here – delivering a performance of considerable complexity (embarrassment, reticence, resignation, defiance) as he is patronised by the domineering Finlander – a performance to rank with Balsam’s other fine turns in films such as Twelve Angry Men, Psycho, Catch-22, All The President’s Men, etc. In addition, Eric Portman is impressive as Finlander’s world- (and war-) weary technical adviser, ex-U-boat commander, Wolfgang Schrepke, whilst there are also fine cameo performances by Phil Brown as Chief Hospitalman McKinley (delivering some of the film’s moments of ironic humour), Michael Kane as one of Finlander’s 'right hand men’ and by James (‘Book ‘em Danno!’) MacArthur as the 'rookie’ Ensign Ralston.

Harris, screenwriter James Poe and cinematographer Gilbert Taylor do a great job building an atmosphere of increasing antagonism and tension, furtive and wary glances being exchanged between crew members as Widmark’s captain, increasingly provocatively, adopts a 'dog with a bone’ persona in pursuit of the 'renegade’ Soviet sub. And, as well as providing a sharp reminder about the risks of weapons proliferation and escalation, Harris’ film also makes some perceptive points (via Poitier’s character) around press sensationalism. The Bedford Incident is (for me, at least) a film that (pardon the pun) had not appeared on my radar before, but is certainly one that is well worth homing in on.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Borderline, 4 Mar. 2014
By 
Mr M.R.Watkinson (Norfolk, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bedford Incident [DVD] [1965] [2004] (DVD)
Cat & mouse in the Cold War. Perhaps, since it's a naval yarn, that ought to be seal & sardine? It's a very difficult film to rate, either way. The majority of Amazon reviews tend to be 1* or 5*. Odd, really, because I doubt most people would give 1/10 or 10/10 to something; they'd think a bit more about the mark they were giving. This film, though, is right on the border between 4 & 5 stars.

Made in '65, this is a generally believable tale of Cold War shenanigans; a US destroyer haunting a hinted at, but never actually seen, Russian submarine. The ostensible star is Widmark. He is, somewhat, the Rutger Hauer of his day - on his day, terrific; off his day, I'm just doing this because I need the work. This was an on-day, he hits the hard-ball authoritarian captain off to a T. Sidney Poitier is a powerful presence as the journalist. Here, he often gives the impression of being stupid. Sometimes, you feel, that is because he is ignorant of naval whys & wherefores; sometimes, you feel, it's because he wants to give the impression he is ignorant of naval whys & wherefores...

They are ably supported by the rest of the cast, most notably Eric Portman, finely playing a world-weary ex-U boat commander, and Martin Balsam (possibly best known for his role in 12 Angry Men) as the unwanted ship's doctor, unable to find a way to get the right side of his cynical captain. Shot in atmospheric black & white, the film remains tense throughout. The director, James Bridges, deserves his share of the credit, it must be said.

Ultimately, the ending, whilst true to its time, feels a little unsatisfying to me (I shall say no more than that for fear of spoiling it for anyone that hasn't seen it), and that's why I suggest it's borderline. Whether it be a 4* or a 5* film, however, I am sure of one thing - I'm very pleased it's on my shelf. If you've any love for war films, it's well worth adding to your collection.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting mutation of "Moby Dick" - an exceptionnal man obsessed with a Big Red Submarine, 6 Mar. 2012
By 
Darth Maciek "Darth Maciek" (Darth Maciek is out there...) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bedford Incident [DVD] [1965] [2004] (DVD)
This is a very curious, sometimes even strange, but quite good film adapted from a novel which mixed Cold War obsessions with "Moby Dick" theme. The story described is a pure fiction and nothing even close to "Bedford incident" never happened during the 46 years of "war games" played by US and other NATO navies and the Soviet ships and planes all over Atlantic.

The whole story takes place on board of a fictif US warship, destroyer USS "Bedford" (no US Navy ship of that name ever existed). For the needs of the film US Navy willingly contributed a real destroyer, USS "Macdonough", which in 1964 was a very modern ship (commissioned in 1961 - retired and placed in reserve in 1992 - scrapped in 2004). The USS "Macdonough" was to earn some fame in 1966 as flagship of an US Navy force (19 ships) engaged in Palomares incident (research of atomic bombs lost in the ocean following the crash of an American B-52 bomber).

ASROC missile/torpedoes which play an important role in the movie are a real weapon, introduced first in 1961 and, after many modernisations, still in use by US Navy and many others even today - they are basically missiles, which instead of classical warheads carry an American Mark 46 torpedo. Once a submarine is detected, the missile arrives at great speed in its vicinity and releases the torpedo as close as possible to its position - the missile role is then finished and once its fuel gone, it fells into the sea and sinks. However the torpedo, once in water, activates its sonar, locates the submarine and follows it, until interception and impact. One Mark 46 torpedo is in principle enough to sink or critically cripple most of the submarines - although for the biggest ones, like Russian gargantuan "Typhoon" or huge "Delta IV", "Borei" and "Oscar" types, two or more would probably be used.

The story is about a journalist (Sydney Poitiers) who is writing a story about American ships tracking Soviet submarines in the Northern Atlantic, something that in the real life Western navies were doing on a regular basis from 1945 to 1991 and even beyond (although now the tracked subs are Russian and no more Soviet). He expressly asked to stay on board of USS "Bedford", as it is not only a very modern ship, but also it is considered as having one of the best crews in the whole US navy - and her commanding officer, Captain Finlander (Richard Widmark) is a kind of a living legend amongst the sailors. Another very important character is a NATO naval advisor from Bundesmarine (German Navy), an aged commodore named Schrepke (Eric Portman), who was once a succesful captain of an U-Boot in WWII. I believe that his name is clearly inspired by that of Joachim Schepke, a real life U-Bot "ace" from WWII, killed in action in 1941. In many scenes this character completely "steals the show" from the two main stars.

Two other secondary characters are to play an important part in the story: the new medical officer just arrived on board and ensign Ralston, a young weapons officer, who shows considerable promise and for that reason is the object of particular "attention" of the captain, who pushes the youngster to the limits to harden and strengthen even more a man in whom he recognizes a younger himself...

The whole story develops around the chase of a Soviet submarine detected and tracked by USS "Bedford". As it is a classically (diesel/electricity) propelled ship, it is known that it will have to surface at one moment for lack of oxygen and also to make work its diesels to recharge the batteries. The purpose of the game Captain Finlander wants to play as part of the rigorous training schedule, is to stay with the submarine all the time and to be next to her when she makes surface and then "tickle" the Soviets with a sonar wave to simulate the sinking. Such "games" were routinely played during the Cold War as part of intelligence collection and training, by both sides.

Well, this hunt will reveal itself to be much harder and much more complicated than anybody could think and with time Captain Finlander starts to show a quasi obsession, wishing even to take risks for the safety of his ship and crew. But no more details will be provided to avoid spoilers.

I liked this movie, although I found the ending ludicrous rather than dramatic (still, it is better than the ending in the novel, which is simply idiotic beyond description). Watching Richard Widmark and Sydney Poitiers is a real pleasure in almost every movie and in this one their conversations are a treat. The "game" between USS "Bedford" and the Soviet submarine is a very very interesting one and the minor characters provide many good cinema moments. Still, because of the ending I simply can not give this film five stars - but I can not really explain here why, without revealing too much.

So bottom line, I warmly recommend to watch this film and that you make your mind yourself. No matter what one thinks of the ending, it is a good, solid, interesting movie. Enjoy!
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Bedford incident - the movie, 24 Sept. 2012
By 
Dr. H. A. Jones "Howard Jones" (Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bedford Incident [DVD] [1965] [2004] (DVD)
In the days of the Cold War, an American destroyer, the USS Bedford, is stalking a Soviet submarine in the Arctic. The over-enthusiastic Captain of the destroyer, Eric Finlander (Richard Widmark), is intent upon keeping his crew constantly on a maximum state of alert. On board the ship is a photojournalist, Ben Munceford (Sidney Poitier) there to get a story of life aboard a navy vessel in `peacetime'. Also joining the ship mid-voyage is the new ship's doctor, Chester Potter (Martin Balsam). Potter and Munceford become increasingly alarmed at the agitated state of the crew from being kept continually on the alert. One inexperienced recruit, Ensign Ralston (James MacArthur), seems particularly susceptible at being constantly reprimanded by Finlander - with ultimately disastrous consequences. Apart from the film's message coming out of the Cold War scenario there is a fascinating interplay of characters between the principals. The black-and-white photography just heightens the atmosphere. The director of the movie was James B. Harris and the film was based on a book by Mark Rascovich.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Cold War Thriller, 19 Aug. 2003
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Directed by James Harris, Stanley Kubricks long time producer, this is an excellent thriller. Richard Widmark stars as the hawkish C.O. of a US Navy ship on patrol in the North Atlantic, who plays cat and mouse with a Russian sub, all the while goaded on by Eric Portmans visiting German Commodore, a former Nazi U Boat Commander. Widmark is particulary hard on a young Ensign, played by James MacArthur, and this ultimatley leads to the shock ending, which certainly made me jump the first time I saw it! Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bunker mentality..., 5 Oct. 2012
By 
Mr. S. Crook (Way out west) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bedford Incident [DVD] [1965] [2004] (DVD)
I was actually reminded of some aspects of Dr Strangelove, but without anything played for laughs.

It's a pretty perceptive portrayal of a small self contained group of men put under incredible pressure by a ships captain who believes that they're preparing for a war between the Soviets and the US/Nato. Widmark was made for the role as the intense, obsessive captain, and the rest of a pretty good cast play second fiddle to him. All of the settings including the model work look impressive, and, being in black and white it's easy to incorporate stock footage into the film without damaging its look.

In watching it again after many years I was reminded of the USS Vincennes shooting down the Iranian airliner and wondered just how much similarity there may have been between the two ships crews and their mindsets.
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The Bedford Incident [DVD] [1965] [2004]
The Bedford Incident [DVD] [1965] [2004] by James B. Harris (DVD - 2004)
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