The Incident (1967 film)
The Incident is a 1967 American neo-noir thriller film written by Nicholas E. Baehr (based on his teleplay Ride with Terror, which had been previously adapted as a 1963 television film) and directed by Larry Peerce. The film stars Tony Musante and Martin Sheen (in his first film role) as two street hoods who terrorize 14 passengers sharing a New York City Subway car, played by an ensemble cast that includes Beau Bridges, Ruby Dee, Jack Gilford, Ed McMahon, Gary Merrill, Donna Mills, Brock Peters, Thelma Ritter, and Jan Sterling.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Larry Peerce|
|Produced by||Edward Meadow|
|Written by||Nicholas E. Baehr|
|Music by||Charles Fox|
|Edited by||Armond Lebowitz|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|November 5, 1967|
The film was made for a budget of $1,050,000.
On a late Sunday evening in the Bronx, punks Joe Ferrone and Artie Connors are looking for trouble. After giving a hard time to a pool hall owner for closing early, they briefly harass a passing couple, then mug an old man for his eight dollars and beat him into unconsciousness.
Bill Wilks, his wife, Helen, and their sleeping 5-year old daughter board a southbound 4 subway train at the Bronx’s Mosholu Parkway station at 2:15 AM, after Bill refuses to take a cab to their home in Flushing, Queens, suggesting his wife is a spendthrift. When they enter the last car of the train, which only has one working door, its only other passenger is a sleeping derelict.
At Bedford Park Boulevard–Lehman College, teenage virgin Alice Keenan, and her sexually aggressive date Tony Goya, board; at Kingsbridge Road elderly Jewish couple Bertha and Sam Beckerman, who have been arguing about the responsibilities of the younger generation, board; at Fordham Road, soldiers Pfc. Phillip Carmatti, and his Oklahoman friend Pfc. Felix Teflinger, who has a broken arm, board after having dinner with Carmatti’s Italian-American parents.
At the Burnside Avenue station, after leaving a cocktail party, middle-aged Muriel Purvis boards with her mousey husband, Harry, whom she resents for earning less money than many of their friends and having no ambition; at 176th Street, out-of-work, recovering alcoholic Douglas McCann, boards, joined by Kenneth Otis, a homosexual man who earlier made an unsuccessful attempt at befriending McCann. At Mt. Eden Avenue, frustrated bigot Arnold Robinson, and his long-suffering wife Joan, an African-American couple, board after attending a charitable event for inner-city youth.
Joe and Artie board at the 170th Street station and proceed to psychologically terrorize, humiliate and degrade every single adult passenger, as the train passes through the next 15 stations. They start with the derelict whom they attempt to give a hot foot, then move to Douglas, then to Kenneth – whom they physically prevent from leaving the train – and so on.
At one stop, Joe blocks the doorway to prevent two women from boarding, at 86th Street he prevents the Beckermans from exiting, then shoves one of the derelict man’s shoes into the door to preventing it from opening at further stops.
Throughout the entire train ride, no one has managed to get the upper hand on the two hoods. Joe is finally challenged when he turns his attention to the Wilks’ sleeping daughter. Bill and Helen are frantic and appalled that Joe is trying to touch the child. Bill holds her to his chest in a protective grip, with the desperate parents slapping Joe’s hands away as he tries to touch her.
Only then does Felix stand up and directly challenge Joe with "Stop! Or I’ll put you down!" Joe pulls out his switchblade knife. Felix engages Joe in hand-to-hand combat. Despite his broken arm, and then a stab wound, Felix manages to overpower Joe, using his cast to beat Joe into unconsciousness; subsequently, Artie drops his tough-guy facade and cowers, trying to unjam the one working door and flee. The wounded Felix incapacitates Artie with a knee to the groin, leaving Artie on the floor in agony.
The train soon makes a lengthy stop at the main Grand Central – 42nd Street station, where Carmatti finally goes over to his injured friend, causing Felix to weakly but disgustedly ask "Where were you buddy?" Carmatti shouts into the station for the police, who enter the train and, without asking any questions, start to arrest the only black man in the car, Arnold. Passengers cry out, “Not him!” so the cops instead help the still-moaning Artie off the floor and out, while a train conductor picks up and takes the bloodied Joe off the train.
The passengers, still frozen in their seats, are stunned. Only when the sleeping drunk rolls over and falls to the floor, do the passengers finally awake and slowly exit the train, stepping over the drunk’s unconscious body.
- Tony Musante as Joe Ferrone
- Martin Sheen as Artie Connors
- Ed McMahon as Bill Wilks
- Diana Van der Vlis as Helen Wilks
- Victor Arnold as Tony Goya
- Donna Mills as Alice Keenan
- Jack Gilford as Sam Beckerman
- Thelma Ritter as Bertha Beckerman
- Beau Bridges as Pfc. Felix Teflinger
- Robert Bannard as Pfc. Phillip Carmatti
- Mike Kellin as Harry Purvis
- Jan Sterling as Muriel Purvis
- Gary Merrill as Douglas McCann
- Robert Fields as Kenneth Otis
- Brock Peters as Arnold Robinson
- Ruby Dee as Joan Robinson
- Don De Leo as Mr. Carmatti
- Nina Hansen as Mrs. Carmatti
The New York City Transit Authority denied permission to film on its property, including background shots, but the filmmakers shot them anyway. In order to get the necessary footage, cinematographer Gerald Hirschfeld and his son rode the subway and surreptitiously shot the moving background with a camera hidden in a cardboard box. The outdoor scenes of the train were filmed on and around the Bronx section of the IRT Third Avenue Line, which was demolished in 1973.
Hirschfeld said in an interview that he filmed in black and white in order to get "the most realistic style of photography possible"; test shots were taken in muted color but they were deemed a distraction from the desired "somber" effect.
All scenes inside the subway car were filmed in a studio mockup of IRT World's Fair Lo-V #5674. The producers contacted St. Louis Car Co. for original blueprints of the car and reproduced it. Lights were mounted along the car exterior and illuminated sequentially to simulate a speed of 30 mph. Subway footage was filmed by concealing the cameras inside bags. Police became suspicious when they heard whirring sounds inside the bags.
Círculo de Escritores Cinematográficos (Cinema Writers Circle Awards), Spain, 1970
- The Incident won CEC (Círculo de Escritores Cinematográficos)Award for Best Art & Experimental Film
Mar del Plata Film Festival, Argentina, 1968
According to Fox records the film required $2,375,000 in rentals to break even and made $2,075,000 so made a loss.
- Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p255
- Crowther, Bosley (November 6, 1967). "The Incident (1967) Screen: 'The Incident' on View at Two Theaters:Tale of Subway Terror Is Taken From TV". The New York Times.
- Pope, Norris (2013). Chronicle of a Camera: The Arriflex 35 in North America, 1945-1972. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 1961. ISBN 9781628467888. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
- Williams, David E. (2007). "American Cinematographer". 88 (1–5). ASC Holding Corporation: 82. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
- Silverman, Stephen M (1988). The Fox that got away : the last days of the Zanuck dynasty at Twentieth Century-Fox. L. Stuart. p. 327.