Bedford Incident, The (1965)

The Bedford Incident (1965), produced and directed by James B. Harris.

Most "action in the North Atlantic" films feature the intense suffering of those involved (worse things really do happen at sea), but we don't have that here: the emphasis is on the personal tensions, the pressure cooker environment that might spark WW3. Like Dr. Strangelove (1964) without the laughs, or Hell in the Pacific (1968) or Fail-Safe (1964) with a few moments to silently reflect "My God, what have we done?"

There are no villains in this Cold War sub-hunting drama. Captain Richard Widmark pushes too hard but the crew loves him. He should have kept a closer eye on Ensign James "Book 'em Dano" MacArthur; they might have avoided The Incident but we would have missed one of the great dark endings in war films.

Journalist Sidney Poitier isn't a bad guy, but he is after the big story, which involves getting under the Captain's skin. You can see his disappointment when he is forbidden from using a juicy, if inaccurate, quote.

We get just a glimpse of the Soviet sub and there are no scenes "down below".

Widmark co-produced. Young Donald Sutherland is a lab tech in sick bay. Martin Balsam is the new Medical Officer who just isn't fitting in.

Interior shots were filmed on British warships and it has a realistic, almost documentary look at times.