The Incident (1967)
Genre: Crime Drama Thriller
Starring: Tony Musante ("Oz"; The Pope Of Greenwich Village) Martin Sheen (Apocalypse Now; Catch Me If You Can)
Directed By: Larry Peerce (A Separate Peace)
Overview: Looking for a bit of fun, two hoods hijack an El-Train car, terrorizing the passengers on board.
Acting: Here it is! Martin Sheen's first starring film role. He's a natural, and one of my friends said with a chuckle, "It's not a far stretch from any of his roles." It's a shame that Tony Musante hasn't done more recognizable work, because this is certainly the one that could have made him famous. The style of acting that the supporting roles have might be too directorially forced, too scripted, but we have here a film that without this degree of perfect delivery just would not have worked anywhere near as well as it did.
Cinematography: Have you ever seen 12 Angry Men, either version? If you remember that, you'll recall the intensity of having a three-scene film. Similarly, most of this film takes place is an El-train car. No fancy lenses, no special effects, just the car, with the occasional zoom-in during a particular scathing monologue. This was shot in black and white however, reinforcing my theory that most black and white films made in the era of colour are great. Yep.
Script: This is what it's all about. Unfortunately the film starts off on a too dated, too archetypal, too bold step in its classifications of the characters, but it's a sign of the times, I suppose. When we get to the nitty-gritty and the terror begins however, there is no more perfect an example of the psychological battle that these hoods undertake. Imagine two people dominating so perfectly a group of fourteen others without being the most insightful and terrifying speakers that exist. You can't. For that reason, I scoured for weeks to find this film. Brilliant.
Plot: I found the set-up a little too long, as it took 45 minutes for the tale to truly hit its essence. It's not that it was boring so much as that I'd seen this before and pined for the meat of the tale. I found that the character development of the victims to such a degree was unnecessary, and perhaps only served as filler on purpose. The climax though, that long train-car scene, makes up for everything, being ultimately a story of bystandardism, heavy bully-class terrorism, and survival-driven selfishness.
Mood: Imagine audience frustration at a film that sucks because you want to go in there and make people do things the way you'd do them, logically. Now imagine the same frustration except the suspension of disbelief ISN'T there, you're frustrated because two punk-ass hoods are doing everything exactly right to stay in complete control at those cowering beneath them. Instead of wanting to go in and tell everyone how to act, you want to become a Deus Ex Machina and rescue them all. This is the type of Thriller that you can use to define the genre. One constant, biting thrill. Intense, my friend.
Overall Rating: 84% (Be An Accessory!)
Aftertaste: The first time I saw this, I was 18 years old, enjoying my first year out on my own and watching The Movie Network on my roommate's TV. Flipping through my options I said, "Hmm, what's this? I'll just watch this for a little bit." I was glued to my seat until the end. Just like 12 Angry Men, just like The Game, this is one of those Drama Thrillers that stay in you and keep the audience talking about it long after it's ended.