• Incident, The

    Released by: Twilight Time Releasing
    Released on: February 20th, 2018.
    Director: Larry Peerce
    Cast: Brock Peters, Thelma Ritter, Martin Sheen, Beau Bridges, Tony Musante, Jack Gilford, Ruby Dee, Ed McMahon
    Year: 1967
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    The Movie:

    Directed by Larry Pearce from a story and script by Nicholas E. Baehr in 1967, The Incident opens by introducing us to two young men in the form of Joe Ferrone (Tony Musante) and Artie Connors (Martin Sheen). When we catch up with them in The Bronx they’re drinking and causing problems in a local watering hole. From there, they mug a guy in an alleyway and then hop on the train to head into Manhattan.

    At the same time, we’re introduced to a few other characters – there’s a black couple played by Brock Peters and Ruby Dee, an older Jewish couple played by Jack Gilford and Thelma Ritter, a man and his wife trying to get their tired daughter home played by Ed McMahon and Diana Van der Vlis, another younger couple played by Mike Kellin and Jan Sterling and two soldiers - Felix Teflinger and Phillip Carmatti, played by Beau Bridges and Robert Bannard respectively.

    All of these people, along with a bum (Henry Proach) and a few others, wind up on the same subway car as Joe and Artie, who proceed to essentially terrorize the rest of the passengers.

    That’s really all that there is to the story, at least on a surface level, but there’s more to this than just a case of urban terrorism. Set in New York City, the story plays off of the Catharine Genovese case, wherein a twenty-eight-year-old woman in Kew Gardens, Queens was stalked and stabbed in a trio of attacks where thirty-eight different witnesses, some of whom were her neighbors, simply kept walking, never once bothering to call for help or try to get the police. New York to this day still has that same attitude, at least to a certain extent. It’s not uncommon to see vagrants, mentally ill people or just general troublemakers act out on the subway at other passengers but it is rare to see people stand up to them. Most would rather just leave the car at the next station and pretend that nothing happened. This is something that The Incident really does a great job of playing up, making the viewer questions the morality of all of this and where they might draw the line and stand up for someone the way certain characters do and don’t in this movie. It’s smart and it’s effective, it pulls us into the story and it makes us think.

    As good as the script is, the acting in the film is just as strong. Musante is fantastic here, coming dangerously close to chewing the scenery but stopping just short of it, delivering a completely manic and unhinged performance. Martin Sheen, in his feature film debut, is the calmer and cooler of the two but he’s just as dangerous and just as twisted. It’s an interesting part for sheen and he handles it well. The rest of the cast – all passengers on that subway car – also do fine work. It’s amusing to see who pops up here – Mike Kellin will be recognizable to horror fans for his work in Sleepaway Camp, while Jack Gilford would go on to play the pizza man that Sophia married in The Golden Girls! Ed McMahon should need no introduction to anyone familiar with late night TV while Brock Peters is recognizable from a bunch of different movies, To Kill A Mockingbird being probably his most famous part. Spike Lee would go on to use Ruby Dee in a few of his films while Thelma Ritter is instantly recognizable from her part in Pick Up On South Street. Diana Van der Vlis played the lead in X: The Man With X-Ray Eyes and played opposite Burt Lancaster in The Swimmer. Jan Sterling was great in Union Station and went on to do a lot of TV work, while obviously Beau Bridges would obviously go on to a long and successful mainstream Hollywood career.

    The direction is tight, the pacing is quick. Exteriors were frequently shot using hidden cameras as the city of New York would not give the crew permission to film on the subway system. Scenes that take place inside the subway are done using a convincing recreation on a soundstage. The black and white cinematography does an excellent job of capturing the action and the tension, particularly in the frequent closeups employed by Gerald Hirschfeld (who shot everything from Young Frankenstein to The Car to Malone!).


    The black and white 1.85.1 widescreen transfer looks very good in this AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer. The image is free of compression artifacts and contrast looks great. As such, we get crisp, clean whites and solid blacks with a nice greyscale covering everything in between. Grain is present throughout, adding to the picture’s gritty feel, but never overpowering and there’s very little in the way of actual print damage here outside of the odd small speck now and again. The picture is devoid of noise reduction and edge enhancement and shows good detail throughout.

    The only audio option for the feature is an English language DTS-HD Mono track, with optional subtitles provided in English only. No problems here, the dialogue is clean, clear and easy to follow and the levels are properly mixed. Sound effects are good here, particularly the sounds of the subway that are used quite well in the second half of the film, and the track is free of any hiss or distortion.

    Aside from an isolated music and effects track and a theatrical trailer, the disc also includes an audio commentary with director Larry Peerce and Twilight Time’s Nick Redman that does an excellent job of shedding some welcome light on the film’s background. There’s discussion here of what inspired the story, the locations that were used and how some of that footage was acquired, casting the picture, and lots more.

    Included inside the clear Blu-ray keepcase alongside the disc is an insert booklet containing some archival images and an essay from Julie Kirgo that rightly makes the case that this is a film that really does deserve to be better known than it is.

    The Final Word:

    The Incident is tense, grim and enthralling, an expertly directed and acted crime picture that hits like a punch to the gut. Twilight Time’s Blu-ray release is welcome indeed, offering up the movie in excellent shape and with an interesting and informative audio commentary standing as its main extra feature. Don’t let this one fly under your radar – it’s a genuinely great movie and a true unsung classic.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Alison Jane's Avatar
      Alison Jane -
      So beautifully shot.