The Incident is one of those films from the late ’60s that points in the direction of the New Hollywood that was just starting to take off. This movie came out in 1967, which is often considered ground zero for New Hollywood, although you could easily make a case for 1966 as well. None of that matters here. It probably helps that the real stand-out performer in the film is Martin Sheen, who would later appear in two of the greatest films to come out of New Hollywood: Badlands and Apocalypse Now. This is basically Sheen’s debut film role.
Larry Peerce directed The Incident. Peerce was a solid director who worked on plenty of ’60s TV shows, including Branded, Wild Wild West and even Batman! He did a bunch of features as well, such as Goodbye, Columbus and Two-Minute Warning. Peerce’s feature film directing career started to come to an end over two films that were universally derided: his adaptation of The Bell Jar and the bonkers, Sid & Nancy-influenced, John Belushi biopic Wired.
The Incident is about something that happens on a subway when two hoodlums, one of whom is played by Sheen, terrorize the passengers. Each person in the group of passengers has their own problems, which are all depicted, adding some substance to these characters. It helps that Beau Bridges, Thelma Ritter and Ruby Dee are among the actors playing the passengers. The hoodlums push the passengers to their breaking points—it’s a decent home invasion-style thriller, but on a train.
It’s no lost classic by any means, but the performances—especially Sheen’s maniacal hoodlum—e elevate the proceedings. There is also nice, stark, black-and-white photography from Gerald Hirschfeld. Hirschfeld had already shot Fail-Safe, and would go on to shoot Young Frankenstein. The filmmakers were denied permission to shoot on the New York City subways, but they did it anyway using concealed cameras!
The disc includes commentary from critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, plus a post-screening Q&A from Larry Peerce and the theatrical trailer. The booklet includes new writing on the film and a reprint of the infamous “Welcome to Fear City: A Survival Guide For Visitors to New York City” pamphlet.