Tuesday, February 10, 2009

2/11/09: The Incident (1967)

I tend not to have guilty pleasures, as I lack the shamefulness it requires. But The Incident is as close as a movie can get. Two sadistic punks (Tony Musante and Martin Sheen, in their big-screen debuts) enter a subway car and proceed to terrorize everybody on board. Those commuters include a bunch of obvious archetypes—upper-class couple, old couple, black couple, child, young lovers, military men, passed-out drunk. One by one, the antagonists intimidate and molest their prey, and the viewer waits for somebody to do something. Annoyingly, the bravest remark any of the passengers can muster is some variation of "Why don't you just leave him alone?" The punks are clearly sociopathic—Musante and Sheen make them deliciously evil—and we wait patiently for tensions to boil over. The Incident isn't trashy, exactly, but it's provocative for its own sake, the same way Dirty Harry would be scarcely four years later. Donna Mills is pretty as the Pretty Girl; other familar faces on board the subway car—which seems to travel about 20 miles in between stops—include Ruby Dee, Beau Bridges, Jack Gilford and Ed McMahon (hey-ohhh!). It is one of the most perplexing of my movie quirks that I can't seem to get enough of dirty rotten punks. Rating: 4/5.

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