The Incident (1990 film)

The Incident
Written byMichael Norell
James Norell
Directed byJoseph Sargent
StarringWalter Matthau
Susan Blakely
Robert Carradine
Peter Firth
Harry Morgan
Barnard Hughes
Music byLaurence Rosenthal
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
ProducersBill Brademan
Edwin Self
CinematographyKees Van Oostrum
EditorDebra Karen
Running time100 minutes
Original release
ReleaseMarch 4, 1990 (1990-03-04)
Against Her Will: An Incident in Baltimore

The Incident is a 1990 American made-for-television drama film directed by Joseph Sargent and starring Walter Matthau and Harry Morgan which was originally broadcast on CBS on March 4, 1990. The film marked Matthau's return to television after over 20 years.

The film was followed by two sequels: Against Her Will: An Incident in Baltimore (1992) and Incident in a Small Town (1994).


The story takes place in the year 1944 in Lincoln Bluff, a fictional, small Colorado town. The Second World War is still raging when the town's only doctor, George Hansen, is murdered at a local US Army camp, Camp Bremen, holding German prisoners of war.

Harmon J. Cobb, a local lawyer, is railroaded by Judge Bell into being the defense attorney for Geiger, the German prisoner accused of killing the doctor, who also happened to have been Cobb's friend. Cobb has no desire for Geiger to be acquitted; in addition to sharing in the wartime anti-German sentiment, Cobb's son is an American soldier fighting the Germans. However, to preserve his hard-earned standing as a top-notch attorney, he begins to build a nominal defense by asking several of Geiger's subordinates who are also prisoners at Camp Bremen to act as character witnesses. However, they all refuse to testify, and when Cobb asks Geiger to pull rank on them to get them on the stand, he refuses. Moreover, he angrily accuses Cobb of being disinterested in the real goings-on in the camp.

Cobb does not press Geiger for more explanation of his comments. However, when a local acquaintance comes forward with more information, Cobb begins to suspect not only that Geiger is in fact innocent, but that Hansen's death is only the tip of the iceberg in illicit operations at Camp Bremen.



John J. O'Connor gave the film a highly positive review in The New York Times, deeming it "a first-rate production". While he found a number of details in the script didn't make sense, he praised the historical authenticity of both the story and the production, as well as Matthau's immense presence in the lead role.


Year Award Result Category
1990 Emmy Award Won (tied with Caroline?) Outstanding Made for Television Movie
1990 Emmy Award Won Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries or a Special
1990 Emmy Award Nominated Outstanding Writing in a Miniseries or a Special (Michael Norell and James Norell)
1991 Christopher Award Won (category unknown)
1991 Edgar Allan Poe Award Nominated Best Television Feature or Miniseries
1991 Writers Guild of America Award Won Original Long Form

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