Sunday, February 06, 2011

The Incident (1967)

This high impact drama directed by Bronx native Larry Peerce shocked many audiences when it was released in 1967. Shot in black and white grittiness, The Incident is the greatest film ever set on the New York subway. In my own subjective opinion, it may very well be the best subway film of all time.
It's after 2AM on Sunday in The Bronx. Two ruffians (Martin Sheen in his debut film role) mug a middle aged man for $8. Seeking more thrills, they decide to take the $8 and head downtown to Times Square. We meet the other characters along the Jerome Avenue elevated line. All of them combat and confront their own inner demons. They are all self-absorbed with themselves until the two ruffians storm their car. One by one, the ruffians terrorize the passengers pyschologically, physically and sexually.
The Incident foreshadows the descent into anarchy which befell New York following the fall of Robert Moses. The Incident was one of the last films before the ratings system took effect. Peerce takes the film to the extremes allowed by the Hayes Office, which itself was becoming out of touch with the shift in cultural and social values.

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