Plot: What’s it about?
Twilight Time recently released the realistic thriller The Incident. I had not heard of this film but was glad to check it out due to Twilight Time’s solid track record and the great cast in the film. From the beginning of the film, I was glued to my seat.
The film begins with two thugs, Joe Ferrone and Artie Connors (Tony Musante and Martin Sheen,) intimidating a pool hall owner when he reminds them that they have been closed for twenty minutes. They then harass a girl walking down the street while laughing and drinking a bottle. The next decision they make is to mug a man. After discovering that he only has eight bucks in his wallet they beat the man down ruthlessly and head for time square. The film cuts to another night. A husband and wife, Bill Wills and Helen Wilks (Ed McMahon and Diana Van der Mils,) having marital issues with one another board the subway train with their sleeping daughter in their arms. A sexually aggressive young man named Tony Goya (Victor Arnold) and his virginal lover Alice (Donna Mills) board the same subway car. Pfc. Felix Teflinger (Beau Bridges) with a broken arm boards the train with his army buddy Pfc. Philip Carmatti (Robert Bannard.) An older couple (Jack Gilford and a Thelma Ritter) in a rift with their ungrateful child board the train. A married couple that are in an argument over finances and lack of children, Muriel and Harry Purvis (Mike Kellin and Jan Sterling,) board the train. Douglas McCann (Gary Merrill), an alcoholic that lost his family and job, boards the train at the same time as a closeted homosexual named Kenneth Otis (Robert Fields) that misunderstood Douglas and made an advance on him. An African American couple named Arnold and Joan Robinson (Brock Peters and Ruby Dee) also board arguing about differing opinions of militancy. Arnold wants change now, even violent change, and Joan wants to let change come more naturally over time. Things get interesting when Joe and Artie enter the train and immediately start in on the passengers. It gets tense immediately and doesn’t let up.
The Incident is excellent. It was made fifty one years ago and its intensity has not been diminished by time. Shot in a documentary fashion, the film makes you want to take a shower from the actions of the two relentless psychopaths in the film. Watching the film it became easy to understand why Terence Malick would later recruit Martin Sheen for his excellent film Badlands. Martin Sheen’s performance is even more impressive for being his film debut. Tony Mussante (best known for his starring role in Dario Argento’s The Bird With Crystal Plumage) delivers an intense and convincing performance as the intimidating Joe. From the moment these two come on screen, you root against them. By the end of the film it reaches a boiling point.
The film is a true ensemble. Aside from the two great villainous performances the film is full of strong supporting performances. Brock Peters was a great actor and he gives a really multi-faceted performance in the film. Beau Bridges is convincing as the Oklahoman caught up in the drama. I always appreciate when a character from the South or Mid-West doesn’t lay on the accent so thick as to make one think that they are a doofus, and Beau Bridges has no trouble sounding the right notes. I could list all the other great supporting actors above, but I will summarize by saying that they are all very good in the film.
The film captures New York as it was barreling towards the worst era of crime in its history and captures the country’s morale in 1967. The direction by Larry Peerce is flawless and the black and white cinematography by Gerald Hirschfield is stunning. The score is credited to Terry Knight, but the actual score is by Charles Fox. It is a solid score in that it only is used in roughly ten minutes of the film. Given the documentary style realism of the film, this was the right call.
Overall, The Incident is a great movie. It is definitely worth your time.
Video: How’s it look?
20th Century Fox have provided a great-looking new transfer in 1080p with an MPEG-4 AVC encoding and 1.85:1 aspect ratio. 20th Century Fox took exceptional care of the film’s elements and have done an incredible job on this restoration. Fine detail is very good. A fine level of grain is present that lends to the great look of the transfer. I have no complaints here. Gerald Hirschfield’s cinematography is simply beautiful on Blu-ray.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Twilight Time have provided a DTS-HD MA 1.0 track. It has excellent fidelity to the original elements. This film is primarily dialogue based but the sounds of the train in the background have good depth of field for a mono track. The dialogue is clear and I did not notice any noticeable hiccups in the audio. The minimally used score by Charles Fox sounds very good whenever used in the film.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Audio Commentary – Director Larry Peerce and film historian Nick Redman – this excellent commen-tary track gives a fantastic amount of detail into the production of the film. It was interesting that this film almost fell apart when their financial backing backfired early in production. Also interesting were Larry’s recollections of the cast. Nick Redman is an excellent interviewer and the questions are very insightful. Fans will be very pleased with this track.
- Theatrical Trailer
- Isolated Music and Effects Track
The Bottom Line
The Incident is still as incendiary as when it was made. Brutality never shows its age and always serves as a mirror to our worst human notions. This film features a fantastic ensemble cast and beautiful black and white cinematography. Twilight Time have licensed a gorgeous transfer from 20th Century Fox and the new commentary track with Larry Peerce and Nick Redman is well worth your time. This film and release come highly recommended.