directed by Larry Peerce, USA, 1967, 107 minutes
Cast: Tony Musante, Martin Sheen, Beau Bridges, Jack Gilford, Thelma Ritter, Brock Peters, Ruby Dee, Ed McMahon
Tagline: "At 1:55 a.m. Joe Ferrone and Artie Connors went looking for kicks. They found it 7 minutes later in The Incident."
My co-worker friend turned me on to this "bold, gritty, terrifying story of inner-city violence" after a riveting discussion about the film and recording career of Ed McMahon. 1967 was a busy year for Johnny Carson's guffawing straight man, as he recorded the children's album What Do You Want To be When You Grow Up? on top of appearing as a grumpy husband and father in The Incident. His crowning achievement, of course, was his singing debut on the multiple-copy-selling And Me...I'm Ed McMahon (as pictured below, with liner notes by Johnny Carson), wherein fans could hear him singing "My Funny Valentine," "Georgy Girl," and co-opting Maurice Chevalier's signature dirty old man ditty "Thank Heaven For Little Girls."
"You are correct, sir!"
Anyway, believe it or not, Ed McMahon's cantakerous salaryman character is the not rock upon which The Incident is founded. That honor goes to gangster/thug character actor supreme Tony Musante, and to a lesser extent to Martin Sheen, both of whom made their screen debuts in this film. They hold center stage while supported by a great ensemble cast.
What Roger Ebert said:
It's commonplace these days to find movies in which the level of technical excellence is better than the material deserves. "Hells Angels on Wheels," for example wasn't much of a movie but the cinematography deserved an Oscar nomination.
"The Incident" is the other kind of movie. The photography is fuzzy, the characters are gold-plated stereotypes, the plot is obvious and advances automatically. But the movie works; it delivers the goods. It creates the suspense and fear it tries for.
Maybe that's because the subject matter -- violence on the subway --touches a responsive nerve right now. Society has always been pretty much divided up between those who are capable of sudden, senseless violence, and those who are not. This is a movie about what happens when the two types are pushed together and the outlaws terrorize the citizens. Sort of an urban Western.
What I said:
Great little gem of a movie shot in stark black and white that plays like a teleplay, perhaps an episode of The Twilight Zone without the soul-searching profundity, just with the quirky human dilemma aspect. This film featured debut performances from Martin Sheen, Beau Bridges, and Tony Musante, who are all excellent. I'll never forget Musante tormenting a passed-out bum while haranging a passenger with "He a friend of yours? You know him? So whatsit to you?" Or the sight of reluctant hero Beau Bridges beating Terrible Tony unconscious with his broken arm cast!
Internet Movie Database