The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)

Run time: R | 104 min | Action, Crime, Thriller
Rating: 7.7
Director: Joseph Sargent
Writers: John Godey, Peter Stone
Stars: Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam
Storyline
Four men get on a New York subway, pull guns, and hold a car full of passengers as hostages, demanding a million-dollar ransom from the mayor’s office. An outstanding thriller with some terrific acting. Wow!
Details:
Box Office
Gross: SEK 1,003,937 (Sweden)

4 Comments

  1. IMDBReviewer

    June 30, 2015 at 9:02 am

    There are many disappointing action pictures out there – this is not one of them. The genius of the film is there is no wasted motion. The picture starts right with the plot – no introduction or character development. The characters are allowed to develop as the plot moves along.

    Which brings us to pacing – the pacing in this picture is excellent. It moves right along and never stops, never slows, never goes too fast. This is the strongest element of its success.

    Another strength is its economy of motion. Many action pictures bore us with unneeded car chase scenes, shoot-em-ups, explosions and other mayhems that are used as filler when true creativity comes up short. This film needs none of that. Only that which is necessary is shown. Only that which needs speaking is spoken. This film is deftly written and crafted with great economy and this underpins the excellent pacing. It moves right along because there is no wasted motion as there is in most other action pictures.

    This does not mean there is no action, there is fabulous action, but only such action as is necessary to move the plot along. There is no action simply to occupy time until the requisite 90 minutes are up.

    The directing is equally economical. No fancy shots, shaky cameras, or special effects – just good, straight forward directing.

    I doubt this picture could be made today for the above reasons. The script readers would reject it for 'lack of development'; 'not enough action'; 'no romantic interest'; and all the other brainless formulas script readers dole out. The producers would demand 'more action' and 'camera work' from the directors. And, of course, a romantic interest (in some state of undress) would have to be shoe horned in.

    Film students should study this picture. From it they will learn that brevity is a virtue and mindless formulas are just that – mindless.

  2. IMDBReviewer

    June 30, 2015 at 9:02 am

    Sharp and fast-paced thriller that follows an easy-going N.Y.C. transit cop (Walter Matthau) who’s forced to out-match the wits of four well-armed gunmen and their resilient leader (Robert Shaw) who are holding eighteen passengers on a subway train and demand one million dollars within the hour.

    Made in the era of smart, stylish, and ingenius thrillers (’70s), this film didn’t fail to loose my attention at all. In addition to Matthau and Shaw, the supporting cast (Hector Elizondo, Martin Balsam, Jerry Stiller, Tony Roberts, and so forth) is are just as excellent as the two unflappable leads. This well-polished crime movie is filled with exciting moments and heart-pounding suspense. Plus, there are some quirky one-liners thrown into the story as well.

  3. IMDBReviewer

    June 30, 2015 at 9:02 am

    With all the other plot summaries written here, I won’t go into what this film is all about. I just want to say that I don’t believe this genre has been done better, either before or since. I first saw "Pelham 1,2,3" when I was 14 at a drive-in theater in Northern CA. It holds a memorable place for me as the first R rated movie I ever saw, as well as the first time I ever heard the "F" word in a movie. But way beyond that, I was so completely sucked into the story even at my young age. Now all these years later, I still am. I own the movie and must see it periodically. I’m so glad, reading all the other user comments, to find that I’m just one of many who absolutely love this film. Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, and the rest of the cast are all brilliant. The comedy in the film is also outstanding and never out of place within the storyline. It simply serves to make the film more realistic. And last but not least, David Shire’s score is the coolest. I only wish they had put a soundtrack out for this film. When I watch this movie, the music must be cranked.

    Don’t bother catching this film on TV. It’s always completely hacked up. Rent it or buy the DVD. It will remind you just how much fun movies used to be.

  4. IMDBReviewer

    June 30, 2015 at 9:02 am

    Every time I put this one on and watch it, I feel like I’m sitting in the front seat of a bad-a** roller coaster about to go on the ride of my life. This movie grabs you by the neck and forces you down into the dirty, dank subway and onto that terror-filled car. New York City in the ’70s; what joy! This movie feels gritty and almost has a semi-documentary smell to it. The acting is top-notch; Matthau’s Garber and Shaw’s ‘Mr. Blue’ play a nice little game of mental cat-and-mouse that will please even the most cynical viewer. Oh, one more thing… the theme music rocks out loud!

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