Second Acting The Bedford Incident

There is a Broadway tradition of second acting shows. That basically means you come in with the crowd returning from intermission and only see the second act… but without paying for a ticket. I’ve never done it – always wanted to.

I think about that term whenever I pick up a movie in midstream That’s what I did tonight with my favorite cold war thriller, “The Bedford Incident.”

The Bedford is a destroyer, commanded by Richard Widmark. It’s the early 60s and tensions between us and the Russians are very high. Widmark stumbles upon a Russian sub and then plays a cat and mouse game until the unlikely conclusion.

The cast is unbelievable and their portrayals are effortless. There’s Widmark, of course, Sidney Poitier, James MacArthur, Martin Balsam, Wally Cox, Eric Portman and a very young Donald Sutherland.

What has always hooked me on this movie, and what I remember word-for-word, is the climax. Widmark is on the bridge, arguing with two passengers not under his command (Poitier and Portman).

Captain Finlander (Widmark): “Don’t worry Commodore. The Bedford will never fire first. But, if he fires one, I’ll fire one.”

Ensign Ralston (MacArthur): “Fire one.”

And with that, a very tightly wound and rattled James MacArthur presses the button and fires a missile. It is perfectly edited and perfectly played.

This is one movie that’s great to watch all the way through and exceptional to second act.

I’m Writing About Norman Chad – What’s My Problem?

All of a sudden my DVR is going nuts taping shows. There’s Jon Stewart (as I’ve already mentioned), Boston Legal, Commander In Chief&#185, Call For Help (wearing out its welcome), ARLI$$ and ESPN’s poker coverage.

A few nights ago, I decided what makes ESPN’s coverage so good. First, it’s edited masterfully. No one is going to convince me the voice overs are done while the poker is being played – but that doesn’t diminish the show. More than anything, I really find Norman Chad funny.

Chad is a newspaper guy (I’m easily impressed by people who write well) first, and reading some of his columns, I ‘hear’ the same voice I hear on the poker broadcasts. I also saw his name on a very funny ARLI$$ episode.

What makes him good on poker is his ability to elevate the absurd to comedic proportions. Anything that anyone does on that broadcast is subject to his scrutiny and wit.

Other poker broadcasts, like the WPT on the Travel Channel, just don’t compare.

&#185 – I just started recording this last night, but I enjoyed the first one… not because of Gena Davis, but because of the deliciously mean Donald Sutherland.