Monday 1 April 2013

The Bedford Incident 1965

According to the Producers Creative Partnership Mediterranean Film studios website, (http://www.the-pcp.com/a-short-history-of-maltas-water-facility.html) the very first natural horizon tank built at the Malta facility was constructed for the production of the miniature effects for this film by Special Effects supervisor Benjamin "Jim" Hole in 1963.

James B Harris who was Stanley Kubrick's Producer for some of his early output, directs a really tight story of Cold war tensions escalated to dangerous levels and filmed in gritty black and white. The miniature work is uniformly excellent and totally uncredited. There is a brief reference to a model making company called Shawcroft models having worked on the film here; http://www.richingspark.com/newhistory/shawcroft.html

The miniature of the title, the USS Bedford, is a Farragut class destroyer and is well detailed and realistically weathered. The motion through the water is very well done with a nice slicing bow wave and swinging by the stern turns. There is a Russian submarine in the story but all you see is a periscope and snorkel protruding above the surface. In some of the frame grabs you can see the difference in water texture between the overflow edge of the tank  and the much more distant real ocean horizon though I never noticed this viewing the film as it really is a compelling story very well crafted by all involved.






































5 comments:

  1. Good model work but a typical cold war "oops we started a nuclear war" plot. The ocean going version of Fail Safe.

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    Replies
    1. True the plot gets cliche towards the end but still remains quite tense IMO. I thought the character development was excellent and anything but "typical." This was one of the first mainstream films to cast a black man as the lead, and I thought the racial tension was great throughout. Race is never mentioned explicitly but obviously was on everyone's mind, especially the audience, who had never seen a black dude play such an assertive and authoritative character.

      I loved the dynamic between Wydmark and Poitier. Poitier's fury in the final scene was some powerful stuff.

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  2. Ernest Copenhaver11 August 2017 at 08:24

    I saw that movie back when it first came out in the mid 60's. I was 15/16 at the time. As fate would have it, 5 or 6 years later, in 1971 I was chasing Soviet subs in the Arctic Circle on a Farragut/Coontz class ship USS Dahlgren DLG-12. We were flag for STANAVFORLANT that year and had NATO staff on board. One of them was an older German officer that claimed he had served in the Greman Navy during WW2. Can't make this stuff up...

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  3. Wow, I always thought that a real ship was used in the daylight scenes in the open ocean.

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    1. They definitely used a real ship for a few shots, as during the opening scene when the helicopter lands.

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