Blu-Ray Review: The Incident (1967)

On the evidence of The Incident, more people should know the name Larry Peerce.

A lesser known product of the burgeoning New Hollywood Wave that emerged out of the classic studio system, The Incident is filled with well known players from earlier eras and projects to come – Brock Peters, Ruby Dee, Gary Merrill, Thelma Ritter and principally a vital turn by a young, emerging Martin Sheen, some years away from the career and life-defining experience of Apocalypse Now. As a character drama, it hangs on performances which belie the fairly low-fi, low-budget, almost TV movie approach Peerce was forced to employ, yet he frequently evolves beyond in his direction. This ends up theatrical, close-quartered, tense and to an extent ground-breaking in what it achieves with so little.

The Incident feels quite ahead of its time in how it brings together an ensemble cast and places them inside a bottleneck; a nightmarish, relatable situation filled with people in the wrong place at the wrong time, terrorised by a pair of wayward, New York thugs played by Sheen (this was his first film role) and Tony Musante, who is particularly mesmerising in how he physically and psychologically breaks down an assorted collection of late night travellers on a New York subway train. Peerce introduces the incendiary pair and then allows his film to steadily build, casting a pallor of dread over the first forty minutes as we await the titular incident.

What follows, in the final hour, ranks among the most nail-chewing, protracted escalating dramas of brewing violence and social deconstruction committed to celluloid.

Continue reading “Blu-Ray Review: The Incident (1967)”

Blu-Ray Review: The Night of the Generals (1967)

Occasionally I am fortunate to be offered review material from various film, TV, book or comic PR companies, and will be taking a look at releases that interest me, whether based on writers, director or content.

This one is from Eureka Entertainment, 1967’s The Night of the Generals…

You might be surprised to learn that Lawrence of Arabia was not the only film in the 1960’s to co-star Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif, but it would be no surprise if The Night of the Generals doesn’t ring any immediate bells.

A critical and financial dud on release, despite the ascendant stars of the aforementioned leading men, The Night of the Generals suffers in no small part for barely replicating the alchemy in David Lean’s masterpiece of having O’Toole & Sharif share screen time. The producer of both films, legendary Hollywood maestro Sam Spiegel, drafted both men in as part of a contractual deal following Lawrence of Arabia, paid them both a pittance (less indeed than lower billed Donald Pleasence), and largely kept them apart – O’Toole the creepy, dead eyed Nazi General and Sharif the dogged Nazi Major looking to catch a serial killer of women he has concluded was the work of a high-ranking General in the SS. Despite being inextricably linked by the narrative, O’Toole & Sharif share only a few brief scenes and it is one the many missteps taken in an overlong, oddly structured and ultimately misconceived novel adaptation.

Here’s the key point as to why: The Night of the Generals is both a political thriller and a cat and mouse horror all rolled into one, revolving around the search for a murderer the identity of whom is blindingly obvious from the very beginning of the film.

Continue reading “Blu-Ray Review: The Night of the Generals (1967)”