The Bedford Incident

51CMMY1WHMLReporter Ben Munceford and Lieut. Cmdr. Chester Potter, the doctor, are flown out to sea at the same time to board the destroyer, ¬†Bedford. Upon arrival there is immediate tension with Ben being denied access for reporting and even greater tension between Captain Finlander and the doctor. The doctor has been flown out to join the crew as part of the Navy’s request, not the captain’s. It is obvious that Captain Finlander is a very hard nosed captain and has the respect of every one of his men, running a very tight ship, it is his way or the highway. The Bedford’s purpose is to patrol looking out for Russian submarines, and after spotting one, the tension builds even more as Captain Finlander seems hell bent on driving the Russian sub to the surface, even though the sub has made it to international waters. You’ll have to watch to see how this builds and what happens.

Reporter Ben Munceford is played by Sidney Poitier (Best Actor for Lilies of the Field). It is refreshing to see a film so old, 1965, and not to have any mention of race. Poitier makes a great reporter, very inquisitive and in the end challenging Captain Finlander on what is right, wrong and motives of the captain. The doctor is played by Martin Balsam (Best Supporting Actor for A Thousand Clowns, 12 Angry Men). Balsam has some very nice scenes with the Captain, especially when the Captain gives his opinion on why the doctor is really there, having joined back into the service after resigning previously. Of course not to forget the great Richard Widmark who plays the captain. Widmark is absolutely perfect for this type of role, having played similar roles in Midway, Coma, and The Swarm. 

This movie was a real sleeper for me, having enjoyed it much more than expected. Of course I like war films and anything involving water, so I was probably destined to like it. If you liked Crimson Tide and The Caine Mutiny, you will really like this film. Worth watching for sure.

The Verdict

The Verdict

If you enjoy Paul Newman (and who doesn’t enjoy Paul Newman) you need to see this movie. He probably could have won Best Actor but lost out to Ben Kingsly for Gandhi. Newman plays an alcoholic lawyer who drums up his business by going to funeral homes and passing out business cards, claiming to know the deceased. That is until he is handed a sure thing, a case that is supposed to settle out of court with a nice payday. Having a growing conscious after seeing the victim, he views the money as nothing more than being bought off and decides to fight the case.

As always, not to give too much away, this isn’t the absolute best courtroom drama I have ever seen, but Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead) does get great performances from Mr. Newman, James Mason, and Charlotte Rampling (Swimming Pool). There are no huge plot twists or legal loopholes that act as a payoff here, just tracking down missing witnesses and courtroom testimony. Still, this is a film worth seeing, being Nominated for 5 total Oscars including Best Actor and Best Picture.