The Incident


1h 47m 1967
The Incident

Brief Synopsis

The passengers on a New York subway car are terrorized by two teenage delinquents. Although outnumbered, the teenagers take advantage of the passenger's passivity and unwillingness to act together. We watch how the different personalities of the passengers react to the situation.

Film Details

Release Date
Jan 1967
Premiere Information
New York opening: 5 Nov 1967
Production Company
Moned Associated, Inc.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
New York City, New York, USA
Screenplay Information
Based on the teleplay "Ride With Terror" by Nicholas Baehr on DuPont Show of the Week , (NBC, 1 Dec 1963).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 47m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Synopsis

During a Sunday night of drinking, two young hoodlums, Joe Ferrone and Artie Connors, mug and rob an old man in an alley and then set out in search of further kicks by boarding a Manhattan-bound subway train. During the trip that follows, the two punks trap 16 passengers in the car and, one by one, proceed to bait, taunt, and terrorize them. The victimes are: Pfc Felix Teflinger, a southern soldier with a broken arm who is on leave in New York; his Army buddy, Phil Carmatti, a local Italian- American boy; high school teacher Bill Wilks and his wife, Helen, and their little daughter, returning home after visiting relatives; Tony Goya, a sexually aggressive young man, and his timorous date, Alice Keenan; Sam and Bertha Beckerman, an elderly Jewish couple concerned about their married son's selfishness; Harry and Muriel Purvis, a sexually unhappy married couple who have just been to a party; Douglas an on-the-mend alcoholic Kenneth Otis, Otis a shy homosexual attracted to McCann; Arnold Robinson, a bitterly antiwhite Negro, and his peace-loving wife, Joan; and a derelict sprawled in a drunken stupor across one of the seats. Throughout the seemingly interminable ride, not one of the passengers rises to help his beleaguered fellow riders; each individual wants only to be left alone. Eventually, however, young Teflinger can stand it no longer, and he defiantly stands up to face the two thugs. Although his arm is in a plaster cast, he turns his handicap into an advantage by using the cast to beat his two adversaries to the floor. In spite of the fact that Ferrone stabs him in the stomach, Teflinger continues to pound the young hood into senselessness until the train pulls into Grand Central Station. As the police rush aboard and drag off the two hoodlums, Carmatti helps his wounded buddy out onto the platform. And the other passengers, in an almost ashamed silence, carefully step over the drunk, now on the floor, who has slept through the whole ordeal.

Film Details

Release Date
Jan 1967
Premiere Information
New York opening: 5 Nov 1967
Production Company
Moned Associated, Inc.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
New York City, New York, USA
Screenplay Information
Based on the teleplay "Ride With Terror" by Nicholas Baehr on DuPont Show of the Week , (NBC, 1 Dec 1963).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 47m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Articles

The Incident (1967)


“The Incident” of the 1967 thriller of the same name is an act of terror: two young New York hoodlums (played by Martin Sheen, making his feature debut, and Tony Musante) board a late-night subway train in the Bronx and proceed to intimidate and humiliate the passengers, who they prevent from leaving the car. The story was originally presented as an hour-long 1963 television play titled Ride with Terror, written by Nicholas E. Baehr for The DuPont Show of the Week. Producers Edward Meadow and Monroe Sachson acquired the rights and raised money for an independent production of Baehr's expanded script, featuring added characters and additional scenes.

Director Larry Peerce had made an impressive feature debut in 1964 with One Potato, Two Potato, a drama that confronted the then-touchy issue of interracial marriage and won an award at Cannes. The promising young filmmaker ended up directing few features but instead spent his career directing for TV (including episodes of Batman and Branded). According to a Variety report, Sachson and Monroe hired Peerce based on an episode of the TV series The Felony Squad that he had directed.

The Incident features a diverse ensemble of newcomers, rising talents and Hollywood veterans. Along with Sheen and Musante (reprising the role he played in the original television production) is a young Beau Bridges (playing an injured soldier on leave) in his first major screen role and Donna Mills in her screen debut. Legendary character actress Thelma Ritter makes one of her final screen appearances as half of an elderly New York Jewish couple (the great Jack Gilford is her bitter husband). Brock Peters and Ruby Dee play the sole African-American couple on the train, and Jan Sterling and Gary Merrill have major roles. And there's one more familiar face making his big screen debut: Ed McMahon, at the time famous as Johnny Carson's sidekick, plays a harried husband and father who spends the film protecting his sleeping daughter.

Peerce improvised with the cast to get to the raw emotions of the situation, especially with Sheen and Musante. "I knew if these two men didn't elicit fear out of [the actors], the film wouldn't work," Peerce recalled. So he brought the cast together to improvise a scene on the train with the two young men taunting the passengers. At first Peerce had a sinking feeling as acting exercises failed to come to life ("it was awful," he remembers), until Musante focused in on Brock Peters and the two actors went at it, the tensions building as Musante brought Peters to the edge of fury. "It was electric," is how Peerce recalled the moment. "I turned to everybody and said, 'The improv is over. Do you all understand what the film is about?' They said yes and all filed out and that's how we started the film."

Peerce shot in black and white on location in the Bronx to get a gritty realism. He had hoped to shoot in real subway trains and transit stations but was turned down by the New York City Transit Authority. Director of photography Gerald Hirschfeld rode trains with a hidden camera in a suitcase to get background footage of the city rushing past the moving train and a small crew stole shots of trains arriving and leaving stations. They even grabbed shots of the actors on real platforms in a surveillance style, with a camera across the street. The bulk of the film was shot at the Biograph Studios in the Bronx, where subway stations and a meticulous recreation of an IRT subway car, based on original blueprints and outfitted with a removable roof and wall to get camera equipment inside, were built by production designer Emanuel "Manny" Gerard.

Just days into principal photography, the production shut down when the financers pulled out and, as Peerce describes it, "the checks started bouncing." Twentieth Century-Fox producers David Brown and Richard Zanuck stepped in and production resumed quickly, with the entire cast and crew still on board. According to Peerce, they let him continue without studio interference. The one suggestion that Zanuck made was to move the scene of Musante and Sheen mugging a man in an alley to the front of the film, which Peerce credits with giving the film a stronger structure.

The Incident opened to mixed reviews and disappointing box-office returns, but in recent years its searing portrait of fear, intolerance, anger and indifference has been reevaluated as a striking neo-noir and a powerful drama.

By Sean Axmaker

 The Incident (1967)

The Incident (1967)

“The Incident” of the 1967 thriller of the same name is an act of terror: two young New York hoodlums (played by Martin Sheen, making his feature debut, and Tony Musante) board a late-night subway train in the Bronx and proceed to intimidate and humiliate the passengers, who they prevent from leaving the car. The story was originally presented as an hour-long 1963 television play titled Ride with Terror, written by Nicholas E. Baehr for The DuPont Show of the Week. Producers Edward Meadow and Monroe Sachson acquired the rights and raised money for an independent production of Baehr's expanded script, featuring added characters and additional scenes.Director Larry Peerce had made an impressive feature debut in 1964 with One Potato, Two Potato, a drama that confronted the then-touchy issue of interracial marriage and won an award at Cannes. The promising young filmmaker ended up directing few features but instead spent his career directing for TV (including episodes of Batman and Branded). According to a Variety report, Sachson and Monroe hired Peerce based on an episode of the TV series The Felony Squad that he had directed.The Incident features a diverse ensemble of newcomers, rising talents and Hollywood veterans. Along with Sheen and Musante (reprising the role he played in the original television production) is a young Beau Bridges (playing an injured soldier on leave) in his first major screen role and Donna Mills in her screen debut. Legendary character actress Thelma Ritter makes one of her final screen appearances as half of an elderly New York Jewish couple (the great Jack Gilford is her bitter husband). Brock Peters and Ruby Dee play the sole African-American couple on the train, and Jan Sterling and Gary Merrill have major roles. And there's one more familiar face making his big screen debut: Ed McMahon, at the time famous as Johnny Carson's sidekick, plays a harried husband and father who spends the film protecting his sleeping daughter.Peerce improvised with the cast to get to the raw emotions of the situation, especially with Sheen and Musante. "I knew if these two men didn't elicit fear out of [the actors], the film wouldn't work," Peerce recalled. So he brought the cast together to improvise a scene on the train with the two young men taunting the passengers. At first Peerce had a sinking feeling as acting exercises failed to come to life ("it was awful," he remembers), until Musante focused in on Brock Peters and the two actors went at it, the tensions building as Musante brought Peters to the edge of fury. "It was electric," is how Peerce recalled the moment. "I turned to everybody and said, 'The improv is over. Do you all understand what the film is about?' They said yes and all filed out and that's how we started the film."Peerce shot in black and white on location in the Bronx to get a gritty realism. He had hoped to shoot in real subway trains and transit stations but was turned down by the New York City Transit Authority. Director of photography Gerald Hirschfeld rode trains with a hidden camera in a suitcase to get background footage of the city rushing past the moving train and a small crew stole shots of trains arriving and leaving stations. They even grabbed shots of the actors on real platforms in a surveillance style, with a camera across the street. The bulk of the film was shot at the Biograph Studios in the Bronx, where subway stations and a meticulous recreation of an IRT subway car, based on original blueprints and outfitted with a removable roof and wall to get camera equipment inside, were built by production designer Emanuel "Manny" Gerard.Just days into principal photography, the production shut down when the financers pulled out and, as Peerce describes it, "the checks started bouncing." Twentieth Century-Fox producers David Brown and Richard Zanuck stepped in and production resumed quickly, with the entire cast and crew still on board. According to Peerce, they let him continue without studio interference. The one suggestion that Zanuck made was to move the scene of Musante and Sheen mugging a man in an alley to the front of the film, which Peerce credits with giving the film a stronger structure.The Incident opened to mixed reviews and disappointing box-office returns, but in recent years its searing portrait of fear, intolerance, anger and indifference has been reevaluated as a striking neo-noir and a powerful drama.By Sean Axmaker

Quotes

Trivia

All scenes in the subway car were filmed in a studio mockup of IRT World's Fair Lo-V #5674. The producers contacted St. Louis Car Company for original blueprints of the car and painstakingly reproduced it. Lights were mounted along the car exterior and illuminated sequentially to simulate a speed of 30 miles per hour. The NYC Transit Authority refused to grant permission for filming on their property. Subway footage was filmed by concealing the cameras inside bags. Police became suspicious when they heard whirring sounds inside the bags.

A UK cinema release for The Incident was rejected outright by the BBFC twice in January 1968. It has not been re-submitted since.

The New York transit authority denied permission even to film background shots on their property, but the filmmakers shot them anyway: Cinematographer Gerald Hirschfeld and an assistant rode the subway with a hidden camera, and when its sound was noticed, they stopped and came back later to finish the job. 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 it was considered to distract from the desired "somber effect".

The Outdoor Scenes of the EL Train were filmed on and around the Bronx section of the Third Ave EL, which closed in Early 1973 and was torn down shortly after .

Notes

Locations filmed in New York City.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall November 6, 1967

Released in United States on Video December 14, 1989

Formerly distributed by CBS/Fox Video.

Film marks Martin Sheen's screen debut.

Teleplay "Ride With Terror" first presented on "DuPont Show of the Week" December 1, 1963.

Released in United States Fall November 6, 1967

Released in United States on Video December 14, 1989