The Bedford Incident

The Bedford Incident

name = The Bedford Incident

writer = Mark Rascovich (novel)
James Poe
producer = James B. Harris
Richard Widmark
starring = Richard Widmark
Sidney Poitier
James MacArthur
Martin Balsam
Wally Cox
Eric Portman
director = James B. Harris
cinematography = Gilbert Taylor
music = Gerard Schurmann
distributor = Columbia Pictures
editing = John Jympson
released = October 11 1965 (U.S.)
runtime = 102 min.
language = English
imdb_id = 0058962
budget =

"The Bedford Incident" is a Cold War film from 1965 starring Richard Widmark and Sidney Poitier, and co-produced by Richard Widmark. The cast also features Martin Balsam and Eric Portman, as well as an early appearance by Donald Sutherland. The film was based on the 1963 book by Mark Rascovich, which was patterned after Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick".

The screenplay was written by James Poe. It was directed by James B. Harris, who up to that point was best known as Stanley Kubrick's producer. Harris had recently split from a nine-year partnership with Kubrick. Just after the split, Kubrick would make "" (1963), which raises similar issues to "The Bedford Incident".


The American destroyer USS "Bedford" detects a Soviet submarine in the GIUK gap near the Greenland coast. Though they are not at war, Captain Eric Finlander (Widmark) harries his prey mercilessly, while civilian reporter Ben Munceford (Poitier) and NATO naval advisor, Commodore (and ex-World War II U-boat captain) Wolfgang Schrepke (Portman), look on with mounting alarm. The film also features James MacArthur as Ensign Ralston, an inexperienced young officer who is constantly being criticized by his captain for small errors.

Munceford is on board in order to write an article of life on a navy destroyer, but his real interest is Captain Finlander who was recently passed over for promotion to admiral. Munceford is curious as to why. He is treated with mounting hostility by the captain because he is seen as a civilian putting his nose where it does not belong and because he disagrees with Finlander's decision to continue with an unnecessary and dangerous confrontation.

The crew becomes increasingly fatigued by the unrelenting pursuit. Sonar operator Merlin Queffle (Wally Cox) starts hallucinating and has to be relieved. Finally, Ralston mishears a casual conversation ("If he fires one, I'll fire one") and launches a nuclear depth-charge armed ASROC ("Fire one, aye!") that will sink the quarry, but not before it detects the attack and launches four torpedoes at the destroyer. Finlander initially continues his fight by deploying countermeasures and attempting to evade the Soviet counterattack. Realization dawns, for everyone except Munceford, that the approaching torpedoes will be nuclear. Finlander surrenders to the inevitable, leaves his post, and displays regret in his last few seconds of life. The movie ends with still shots of various crewmen "melting" as if the celluloid film were burning as the "Bedford" and her crew are vaporized. The last image of the film is an iconic, towering mushroom cloud from the depth charge and torpedo detonations.


"The Bedford Incident" was mostly filmed at Shepperton Studios in England, although some shots at sea were used, including a vessel portraying a Russian intelligence ship (with English, and not Cyrillic lettering along the side), and a Royal Navy frigate (HMS "Wakeful") portraying "Bedford" in one scene.

USS "Bedford" (DLG-113) is a fictitious guided missile destroyer. No ship of the United States Navy has been named "Bedford", or had the hull classification symbol DLG-113, but the role of "Bedford" was played by a "Farragut"-class destroyer.


External links

*imdb title|id=0058962|title=The Bedford Incident

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