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The Bedford Incident (1965)

Appearing as Ensign Ralston


Synopsis from the Columbia Pressbook:

Aboard the U.S. Destroyer Bedford, commanded by martinet Capt. Eric Finlander (Richard Widmark), on a routine submarine patrol in the Greenland Straits, are Ben Munceford (Sidney Poitier), topflight news correspondent-photographer, and Commodore Wolfgang Schrepke (Eric Portman), veteran German submarine commander assigned to the Bedford as a NATO observer, Seaman Queffle (Wally Cox), sonar operator. The Bedford, with its multiplicity of electronic devices and pushbutton missiles, picks up an unidentified submarine. Finlander initiates a relentless pursuit of the lurking sub, as a training exercise for his crew, keeping them at battle stations for nerve-tense hours. Schrepke warns Finlander the harassed sub will strike back; its crew is as worn down by his war of nerves as is the Bedford’s. Munceford accuses Finlander of being prepared for a “kill,” and hoping for it. Even the Bedford’s medical officer, Lt. Commander Potter (Martin Balsam), warns against driving the crew too far, after Queffle collapses completely. Completely fatigued, young Ensign Ralston (James MacArthur) misunderstands a Finlander order and the Bedford steams ahead to the incident that makes inevitable the climax of the film.


Additional Information from the Pressbook

At first sight of James MacArthur on the screen, mature women want to “mother” him -- and their daughters want to marry him.

But MacArthur’s boyish appearance is deceiving, as five minutes’ conversation revealed recently during the filming of The Bedford Incident, the Columbia pictures release. Behind that youthful appearance is a very determined young man who knows where he’s going and how he will get there.

In his new film, produced and directed by James B. Harris with Richard Widmark co-producing, MacArthur gets third star billing after Widmark and Sidney Poitier, frank testimony to his professional status rather than to his boyish charm and the fact that his mother is actress Helen Hayes and his father, the late playwright Charles MacArthur.

When Mark Rascovich’s best-seller first appeared, MacArthur read it and told his agent he wanted the part of the young officer. When it was reported that Harris had bought the novel, MacArthur got the part.

The Bedford Incident Video Cover

Bedford Incident Poster

James MacArthur

Richard Widmark, James MacArthur

James MacArthur

James MacArthur, Martin Balsam

Martin Balsam, James MacArthur, Sidney Poitier

Martin Balsam, James MacArthur

James MacArthur, Martin Balsam

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