Taking of Pelham One Two Three
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An all-star cast including Oscar? winners* Walter Matthau and Martin Balsam teams up with Robert Shaw (Jaws) to deliver sure-fire entertainment [that s] gripping and exciting from beginning to end (The Hollywood Reporter). Based on the sizzling best seller by John Godey this pulse-pounding picture is guaranteed to give you the ride of your life! Somewhere underground in New York s subway system just outside the Pelham Station a gang of armed men hijack a train threatening to kill one hostage per minute unless their demands are met. Forced to stall these unknown assailants until a ransom is delivered or a rescue is made transit chief Lt. Garber (Matthau) must ad-lib bully con and shrewdly outmaneuver one of the craftiest and cruelest villains (Shaw) in a battle of wits that will either end heroically or tragically. From the minute you board this train until its exhilarating climax you will be taken by plenty of surprises and lots of nail-biting action (Blockbuster Movie Guide)!Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: MYSTERY/SUSPENSE Rating: NR UPC: 027616837523 Manufacturer No: 908375

Dog Day Afternoon. Annie Hall. Taxi Driver. In the pantheon of classic New York films, these three take pride of place. But there are, of course, others, some of which have fallen through the cracks over the years, criminally overlooked and unjustly relegated to commercial-riddled Saturday-afternoon TV broadcasts. Joseph Sargent's The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is just such a picture. This taut 1974 thriller about four armed men who highjack a New York City subway train and hold it and its passengers for ransom may be hopelessly dated (it's loaded with ethnic stereotypes, impossibly wide neckties, and bad hairdos--and there are no explosions!), but that's part of the fun. A gruffly sardonic Walter Matthau heads a fine cast that includes Jerry Stiller, Hector Elizondo, Martin Balsam, and a perfectly villainous pre-Jaws Robert Shaw. Think you'll find a better film that depicts a nearly broke city led by an inept mayor forced to deal with armed terrorists? Fuhgeddaboutit! --Steve Landau

Customer Reviews:

  • I'm taking your train...
    THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE is a gritty heist and hijack caper. Set in year it was made (1974), TAKING is also a `perfect crime' movie. How do you hijack a subway train, demand a $1 million ransom, and get away safely with the loot? Robert Shaw, as the cool and efficient `Mr. Blue', seems capable enough. He certainly seems to have planned it out well. Opposing him, and sharing a number of radio-to-radio scenes, is subway security officer Lt. Zachary Garber (Walter Matthau).
    Mr. Blue's demands are complicated and Garber is given an hour to meet them. The Mayor's approval is needed, and the viewer is dragged into a couple of unfunny comic relief scenes with a sick Mayor (Lee Wallace) agonizing whiningly over whether or not to meet the hijackers' demands.
    British actor Robert Shaw is great as the ultra-smooth and unflappable hijacker. Matthau, more often in comedies, is a good match as the cop in the middle. Matthau's comedy talents are put to better use, as well, in an opening scene where he grudgingly leads a group of Tokyo transit officials on a tour of the facilities. Director Joseph Sargent, when not forcing the comedy, shows a sure editing hand when he contrasts the calm of the hijackers with the chaos surrounding the would-be hostage rescuers.
    PELHAM is an enjoyable little crime thriller that goes relatively light on the gore and gunplay and relatively heavy on character and the tension imposed by a deadly deadline. Strongly recommended.
    ...more info
  • NYC subway hijack
    The Joseph Sargent directed "Taking of Pelham One Two Three", with a terrific cast and filmed on the streets of New York had all the earmarks to be a top flight thriller. It however ultimately fizzles as the plot drags on and cannot be saved by a fine array of actors.

    A four man crew headed by ex-mercenary Robert Shaw and featuring a deviant Hector Elizondo and ex-subway conductor Martin Balsam hijack a NYC subway train. They demand a one million dollar ransom to be delivered in one hour (don't laugh because the subway fare was 35 cents) to release the eighteen hostages they hold. Transit police lieutenant Zachary Garber played by the gruff and often disheveled Walter Matthau directs a task force while remaining in communication with Shaw.

    As the deadline arrives a bankrupt city lead by a hated mayor played by a flu suffering Lee Wallace scrounges together the ransom. An army of cops desperately attempts to deliver the money to the hijackers in time. The real conundrum becomes the means by which the crew will escape with their spoils.

    Matthau tries to keep a cool head in his dealings with Shaw but is egged on by star of the film, TV veteran character actor Dick O'Neill playing the cantankerous Frank Correll head of the Transit Authority.

    The drama plays out but lacks any real feeling of tension and suspense as the characters often appear to just be going through the motions....more info
  • Patchy thriller that ultimately succeeds
    With a cast that includes Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw and Martin Balsam, it can never be less than worth watching, and yet The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is not as great as it could have been. The necessary suspense and tension is lacking in the first half, and opportunities are missed that might have made us feel more involved in the lives of the characters.

    Having said that, the suspense does pick up about halfway through, and in the end it turns out to be a fairly solid piece of entertainment....more info
  • Come in Pelham 123
    I was so pleased to see this released on DVD. copies are inexpensive and should be purchased without prejudice. This is an absolute classic, certainly the type of film that would never be made today. a subway highjacking with all of the classic ethinc seterotypes on board. Walter Matthau is in charge of the case at New York transit headquarters. after putting his foot in his mouth a couple of times, Matthau's leadership come through in one of the best ending to a movie ever. Fantastic...more info
  • 2.5 stars out of 4
    The Bottom Line:

    The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is a decent genre film, but not a transcendent one: Robert Shaw is in top form but Walter Matthau is particularly annoying as Shaw's bumbling foil, and the hokey ending (Gesundheit!) doesn't help matters....more info
  • One of the most overlooked flicks in film history
    I first had the soundtrack from David Shire and was very curious about this movie. It was very hard to get it in Germany 2 years ago and I borrowed it from an american video store. At first I was suprised to see Walter Matthau in his maybe best role. This movie got me going 'cause of it's action and suspense. It's a die-hard criminal movie with Robert Shaw as the brutal head of a partly disturbed little gang. There are no boring parts in this movie even MTV could learn something about smarter cuts. This movie is just so amazing that Q. Tarantino was sure to "steal" something from this flick for RESERVOIR DOGS (other stuff from John Woo). The names of the villains are MR. Blue, MR. Orange etc. ! So the thing is clear: THIS MOVIE IS A MUST. IF YOU HAVEN`T SEEN IT YET YOU SURELY MISSED SUM BIG ! BUY OR BE FORGOTTEN......more info
  • A Fine Suspense Drama
    I was in high school when this film came out. I remember standing on a long line on Broadway in a snow shower to see it. It was well worth the wait. Thirty years later, it was well worth the wait to buy this DVD. While there's no give-me's on this disc (which is a shame), this action packed, and often funny, film is one of those that for some reason didn't stand the test of time or become a cult hit. Perhaps New York and America want to forget the inner city squalor of the 70s (although "Mean Streets" and "Taxi Driver" remain popular). But this film is worth watching just for Robert Shaw's chilling portrayal of a subway hijacker. The filming is appropriately dark and grainy. If not for any reason, watch a well-crafted suspense/action movie before they became completely gory, bloody messes....more info
  • Pelham 1 2 3: The Quintessential New York Movie
    New York often serves as the backdrop for films. There is something about the buildings, the people, the subways that stamp New York as unique. Love blossoms, criminals go wilding, a many hued population often meet, if for only a time, to impact on each other. This is the New York of THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE. In an age where ideological terrorism seems to be taking root here and overseas, it is refreshing to see that the bad guys can still be motivated by big bucks, and one million of them is nothing to sneeze at. One million dollars is the price that a band of hijackers demand to release no one special, just the dozen Typical New Yorkers (hookers, gray suits, super fly wanna bees, hysterical Latina mammas with unruly kids in tow, and of course, an undercover cop) who ride the subways every day.
    There are many reasons why this film clicks as much now as when it was released in 1974, but the main reason is the growing interplay between the chief hijacker (Robert Shaw) and a tired, wisecracking Transit Cop (Walter Matthau). These two could not be more unlike. Shaw's hijacker is merciless, deadly, and does not believe in repeating orders or extending deadlines. Matthau's character radiates the fatigue that grinds down all railway police but still manages to dredge up from deep within the need to talk, even if only to wisecrack with cop buddies. In the film, they never meet until the very end, but they talk, and talk, and talk some more. In fact, their extended conversation reveals their respective probing natures. Shaw's is to see how far to give a microinch before executing a hostage. Matthau's is to gain some inner feeling for the man whose finger is on a trigger. And while all this one-on-one dialogue is going on, director Joseph Sargent reveals a biting, feisty New York peopled by a mayor who refuses to rule; a deputy mayor who refuses to let the mayor ignore a threat; and a cantankerous subway station supervisor who shouts, "Why can't these bastards hijack an airplane like everyone else?" Much of this many-sided interplay is truly funny. Not many hijack movies dare to use humor as a leavening agent to stir a cinematic pot that is kept boiling at a breakneck pace. If you ever wanted to know how a city could raise one million dollars on the fly, this movie shows how. There is not even one moment in the movie that does not ring true. The film's ending is an underplayed confrontation between hijacker chief and police chief. As Matthau tries to talk Shaw into surrendering, one can see a lifetime of criminal activity whirring in Shaw's mind as he weighs his options. Shaw's exit strategy comes as no surprise to a viewer whom Shaw has conditioned to mold by virtue of his own steely, unemotional resolve. And there is the more than comic ending. Not many movies end on a sneeze, which is a fitting, funny, and yet supremely terrifying ending to a train ride of a movie that took the audience from complacency to fear, finally stopping at relief that a rollercoaster ride hit a red light....more info
  • Typical 70's ambience but a good action thriller at its core
    Taking of Pelham 123 is a good film, but too often I was taken out of the story by the jarring overly-loud poor 70's fusion score. Comedy actor Walter Matthau pleasingly settled down into his role of serious railway cop well-juxtaposed by Robert Shaw as the bright but brutal master thief.
    I rate this film only 3/5 because it's just too typical of 70's films: predictable outcomes with only a few plot twists, jingo-junk soundtracks. Too bad so few films of that era hold up like Bonnie and Clyde, They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, The Sting, Deliverance, The Hustler, Midnight Cowboy. If you like this genre and period, Pelham 123 is worth renting, at least first time around. Mild recommendation....more info
  • "What the hell did they expect for their lousy 35 cents?"
    The subway...lifeblood of New York. The largest mass transit system in the world, currently operating over 8,000 rail and subway cars, traveling on over two thousand miles of track, serving nearly eight million passengers daily. Seems like a logistical nightmare, keeping tabs on it all, but MTA (Metro Transit Authority) does, anticipating many problems before they arise. One thing they couldn't anticipate, what no one could have, is someone hijacking one of the trains. But it did happen, once (in movie world, at least).

    The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974), directed by Joseph Sargent (Colossus: The Forbin Project, Jaws: The Revenge), presents a wonderfully talented cast including Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, and Hector Elizondo. Also making appearances are Jerry Stiller (Seinfeld), Dick O'Neill (Gamera), Kenneth McMillian (Dune), and Doris Roberts (Everybody Loves Raymond). The film involves the hijacking of a New York subway train by a group of men armed with semi-automatic weapons for the purpose of extorting one million dollars from the city, otherwise they begin executing passengers, one by one. `What the hell they expect for their lousy 35 cents? To live forever?!"

    This is really an entertaining, tense and witty film that kept me interested up until the very end. Matthau really owns this film, appearing as harried yet cool-headed Lt. Zachary Garber, an officer working for the Metro Authority, and main negotiator with the hijackers, lead by the ruthless Mr. Blue, played by Robert Shaw (it's said Quentin Tarantino got the idea of using colors for the names of his characters in Reservoir Dogs (1992) from this film). Garber really has to play a juggling act, trying to keep the hostages alive, placating the hijackers, and keeping the trigger-happy cops from starting World War III down in the subway tunnels. Robert Shaw does an excellent job playing tactical minded Mr. Blue, basically Garber's counterpart, leader of the hijackers, meticulously planning the entire operation as if it were a military action (we later find out he's a British mercenary `between wars'). He must keep not only the hostages calm and in line, but also his men, especially the psychotic Mr. Gray, played by Hector Elizondo, who seems to suffer from an extremely itchy trigger finger. He's also kinda sleazy...(doesn't it seem like there's always one psychotic in the group? I guess criminals are a highly unstable bunch). As I said, Matthau owns this film, but it certainly doesn't hurt that he had so many talented and highly professional actors supporting him throughout the movie. If The Taking of Pelham One Two Three has the feel of a superior made-for-TV movie about it, that's because one look at Joseph Sargent's credits will show a vast amount of TV work, including shows like Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and a ton of made-for-TV movies. He did venture into films a few times, most notably the 70's sci-fi film Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970) and White Lighting (1973), to name a few, but always seemed to return to TV. He's also responsible for one of the worst movies ever made (in my opinion) in Jaws: The Revenge (1987), which probably put a serious hurting on any future film directing offers. As I said, Pelham does play like a TV movie (except for the brief but realistic use of profanity), but a really, really good one. Even the musical score for the film has a TV theme quality about it, but that of a top-notch theme, one that serves to enhance the overall product. The plot is tight, and moves along pretty quickly. The movie also has a real authentic flavor, especially all the smart alecky comments made throughout, the kind one would expect from New Yorkers. I loved the initial reactions to the news of the subway train being hijack, the incredulity accompanied by complete annoyance that someone would have the nerve to screw around with the New York Subway system, much less hijack it (the scene where the one of the men in charge with keeping the trains moving decides he's going to walk down the tracks and see what's going on for himself is priceless, at least until he finds out it's for real). The plot covers a lot of ground, focusing on not only the passengers and hijackers, but also the transit authority cop, the regular cops, right up to the politicians, forced to weigh the decision and consequences of paying the ransom money or not (they do, and the scenes involving the authorities racing to meet the hijacker's deadline is gripping, with slight dashes of humor...the police racing in their car, sirens blaring, Officer O'Keefe: "I always wanted to do this. Look, we're scaring the sh#t out of everybody.", Officer Miskowsky: "Yeah, including me.") The big question posed, and one that's focused on throughout is, even if the hijackers get the money, how are they going to get away with it? They're in a train, underground, surrounded by police, with no visible escape routes. Seems like a tricky proposition, but given Mr. Blue's talent for meticulously covering all the details, I'm sure he's got a plan (don't ask me, just watch the film).

    The quality of the wide screen non-anamorphic print on this DVD is pretty good, but not as good as I would have liked to have seen. There's a lack of sharpness in the picture, and the colors a kind of dull. The audio is also pretty good, and the dialog is clear. MGM stints on the special features, as usual, providing a theatrical trailer and an informative 4-page booklet insert. Basically what you have here is an exceptional crime film set in New York, one that rises above most others and doesn't disappoint. Oh, and that warning you always hear about not touching the third rail, as it's full of juice (electricity), and will fry you like a side of bacon? You would do well to heed it, as it's not an urban legend, my friend...

    Cookieman108
    ...more info
  • "I feel like I'm walking into the OK Corral"
    ...

    Colorful, realistic language, be advised, and a non stop film that will actually have you on the edge of your seat.

    This movie captures the city of New York like only a Woody film might, complete with the grit, the guts and the pace of the greatest city in the World.

    Walter Matthau and a great suppporting cast of New York actors bring the hijacking of a subway train to the realm of tonights news, and use a dialogue pulled right from the city streets

    "...They're underground...how they gonna to get away...."

    I wish I had it here in front of me so I could site all the fine performances and the excitement....one thing you'll take away from this film....."they only know what we tell them"

    buy it, you'll like it.......If you're a New Yorker, you'll love it.......more info

  • They don't make 'em like this anymore
    I was surprised by how fast-moving this was, for a 70s film. Smart dialogue. Amazon's review says the movie is dated because it's full of ethnic stereotypes, but really the movie shows characters in a diverse city trying to come to grips with increasing interaction with each other, in the days before political correctness. The best line is when Mathau's character meets the black chief inspector for the first time and says, "Oh, I thought you'd be ... a little smaller." As a regular rider of the subway line that was hijacked in the movie, I found it particularly gripping, but it has enough suspense and action to hold anyone's interest. Great slice of life of the 1970s. The deputy mayor is a gem....more info
  • pelham one two three is in motion......slow motion that is
    overall its a good movie, but a directors cut seems a necessity. in one scene they announce the mayor and an obvious "cut" is noticed in the film. another obvious "cut" is when the supervisor is walking to the train on foot and encounters the stranded passengers walking back......all in all a good movie with medium paced action and decent acting from the major stars...more info
  • Pelham 123 to Command Center: Your Train Has Been Taken
    I first saw this on TV when I was 15 in 1979. I liked it then and I like it now on DVD. I will agree with some other reviewers who complained about the lack of special features, but that's really not a big deal. WARNING: This IS an R-rated film with gun violence & gross profanity.

    Robert Shaw is Bernard Ryder, A/K/A Mr. Blue, a former soldier of fortune who is the leader of a gang of four heavily armed men (one of whom is an ex-motorman) that hijack a subway train, sever the head car, and hold 17 passengers and the conducter hostage. Their demands: $1 million must be in their hands in one hour or they will kill one hostage for each minute the money is overdue. Walter Mathau is Transit Authority Police Lt. Zach Garber who happens to be in the TA's Command Center when Mr. Blue calls the demands in over the subway's radio system. Garber must continuously think fast to keep the hijackers from following through with their threats while relaying their complex demands to the police and City Hall. While doing all that, he must also figure out how--being underground and with Command Center tracking the car's movement on a status board--they intend to escape undetected....more info
  • Excellent Movie
    I was searching for this movie because I loved it when I was young. I came across it being on DVD and I bought it immediately. This is an excellent thriller involving hijacking the subway train and threatening to kill everyone. Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw are excellent actors and make you feel the action going on in the movie. I recommend it to anyone who loves movies about hijacking and killing (over 17 years old that is). ...more info
  • One of the Best 70s Crime Movies
    Dirty New York in the 1970s is fantastic in this movie. Great story, great characters, great suspense. There is quite a bit of dry humor sprinkled throughout the movie - perfect New York sarcasm in many cases.

    Walter Matthau is an unlikely but very believable hero. I wonder what he thought of this particular movie?

    Definitely a DVD for anybody's 70s Crime Movie collection....more info

  • The Classic Movies
    Today when there is always a re-make of older movies almost on a constant level, I always like to see the original cut first, before passing judgment on the re-make. Well,..I have always enjoyed enjoyed watching the original Taking of Pelham 123, Its your classic 70's Drama. No wonder it was a top movie in 1974! With the re-make coming out this summer, it looks just as intense maybe even better than the original, either way Its a good movie and a must see (the original). ...more info
  • This movie keeps the viewer in suspense throughout.
    I am not exaggerating when I say 'The Taking Of Pelham 123' is my favourite film of all time. From the beginning right through to the very end, it is filled with suspense, action, intensity as well as some sheer hilarity. I feel that Walter Matthau acheives his best ever role as Leutenant Garber the transit cop, and well and truly steals the show. There is not a single second of slowness in the movie, and not a single minute that doesn't set your heart racing. Oh, and for anyone who has seen the film, don't you think Matthau's expression at the end of the film is just truly hilarious!...more info
  • A Rare Film That's Better Than The Book!
    There is a genre of film simply known as a "New York Movie." It's a film where the city itself plays a role in the story. This can be as varied as the Musical, "On The Town," the comedy "Arthur," The fantasy "Superman: The Movie" or the drama "Taxi Driver." "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" is a true "New York Movie."

    The plot begins when a small group of terrorists hijacks a subway train and holds the passengers for ransom. At first, the concept seems far-fetched ("Where're they gonna go?") but a convincing script from Peter Stone (from John Godey's novel) makes the plot move forward.

    It's really the performances that keep the story on track: Walter Matthau as a harried trainmaster, barking out orders and watching the situation develop from his command post, Robert Shaw as the ringleader of the band of crooks aboard the hijacked train (with Martin Balsam and Hector Elizondo as his partners in crime), and an impressive and authentically New York supporting cast (including Jerry Stiller, James Broderick, Doris Roberts and Lee Wallace, who plays the mayor, and who looks quite a bit like Ed Koch, even though Koch hadn't yet been elected at the time of the film's release)!

    It all works to give you a true sense of the flavor of the city in the mid 1970s. Filmed on location in the actual tunnels and trains, it's a clever story and is brilliant. If you like suspense thrillers that are a little smarter than the typical, this film is for you.

    Highly Recommended!...more info
  • Forget 1, 2, or 3, this scores a solid 5 star rating!
    If you want a review of this movie, the Top 500 reviewer below has done a thorough job!
    However not mentioned was the music score by David Shire (also responsible for those of The Conversation, The Hindenburg, All the Presidents Men and Saturday Night Fever). The Taking of Pelham 123 though, is his masterpiece, indeed I consider it my favourite movie score ever, quite an achievement considering the mastery of Bernard Herrmann in particular. The pulsating opening theme sets you up for a simply superb movie, containing humour, suspense, and some formidable acting from the lead players, Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw and Martin Balsam.
    There are more films made in the 1970's amongst my all-time favourites than from any other decade, and this movie in particular indicates why.
    Criticism in regard to dark photography, hard to hear dialogue, foul language, stereotyping and more, is largely absurd, or at least irrelevant in the face of so much more that is positive, thrilling, and highly enjoyable.
    There are so many memorable scenes that make repeated viewing a joy. Most feature Mr. Matthau, who really is in exceptional form here, particularly whilst he shows some Japanese visitors round the transport police department offices, when he finally loses his temper after a colleague continually gripes at him, and the final closing scene. Not wishing to spoil it, I will only say that his final expression, which sets off that incredible score again, is priceless!
    I highly recommend this great film, which wins on all counts!...more info
  • PHENOMENAL!!!!!
    This has been my favorite movie of all time, for all time, since I was 11 in 1982, and had just recently rode my 1st NYC subway, until I was (and am) 31 in 2002. I have seen this movie 150++ times, still watch it several times per year, every year, and NEVER get bored!! Even my wife loves it. I own the Amazon-bought video, and a TV videotape of it from the 80s.

    The movie depicts NYC in the 70s, complete with 70s bad guys, 70s hair, 70s clothes, 70s cops, 70s stereotypes, etc. and has the beloved NYC subways of the 70s that we all want back! Its evil plot is just so far-fetched and so well-planned by the bad guys that they just might get away with it!!!!!

    Best train/action/suspense movie ever filmed. Robert Shaw was the all-time best bad guy in films. Period. His death in the late 70s stiffed us out of 25 more years of GREAT ACTING. See him at his bad-guy best in THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1,2,3 before he was "Quint", the drunk shark-hunting good guy, in JAWS.

    Pelham 1,2,3 should be put back in the theatres briefly, to initiate kids of today on GOOD movies, with GREAT actors.....because it's so incredibly done. The re-make on TV a couple years ago did this AWESOME film NO justice. (That's putting it kindly.) Matthau, Shaw, Elizondo (the hotel clerk in Pretty Woman), are GREAT! And check out Ben Stiller's then-YOUNG Dad Jerry Stiller, as Matthau's sidekick, Rico the 70's NYC Transit Cop!! Classic!!

    Best line: Boss (Matthau), when telling Lieutenant (Stiller) how to begin the impossible search for the bad guy who knew how to, and was driving, the the commandeered train, says comically: "well he didn't learn how to drive a subway train watching Sesame Street, so find out who he is, and find him today" and it just gets better and better from there. (Keep in mind nobody can drive a subway except someone who knows how to drive one, and Sesame Street was pretty much a brand new show at this time.)

    In November, 2000, my wife and I rode the Lexington Ave subway in NYC, 26 years after the movie was filmed, trying to find spots where the actors stood and where certain scenes happened. THAT's how great this film is. 26 years later it was still good enough that my train-hating wife went train snooping with me for scene locations.

    Buy it and enjoy....more info

  • The "Great Train Robbery" with a twist
    The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is a well-written thriller that features an all-star cast at its very best. Walter Matthau palys a transit system cop. Robert Shaw, & Martin Balsam put on a tour de force performance as the heavies. Instad of robbing the train and its passengers, they hold a New York subway train full of people hostage. They only want money--and they'll give New York only one hour before they begin killing hostages...but they bit off more than they can chew in the person of Transit Cop Lt. Zachary Garber (Matthauy). His wisecracking, life's-a-joke style helps him do the impossible--find a way to cut through a bankrupt city hall's politics, obtain the million dollar ransom demanded by the hijackers, and deliver it--all within the one hour limit.

    This is a fast-paced, intense, fun film that stands the test of time. If you want a gripping story and performance with mild language, this is the one for you.

    As Garber says: "Aw, go play with your trains, Frank!"...more info
  • MY FAVORITE CLASSIC
    The technical advisors for this movie had to be retired Transit cops, Transit workers, and NYC Cops. Every detail, Every slang term, police and transit jargon, on location set was 100% accurate. I myself worked for the NYC Transit Authority as a cop and later switched to the NYPD as a cop. When I first saw this movie I woke up the next day and for a brief moment thought the hijacking actually occured.
    Back in the 70's the Transit PD was second fiddle to the NYPD. The NYPD had all the big action and Transit PD was just a boring job. Transit cops basically stood around waiting and hoping for some action in the subway. The director illustrates this so accurately in the movie, I felt like I was there. The set of the Transit Authority's command center and the Transit Police control center were an exact replica's. Walter Mattau subtle humor is so typical of many veteran cops. The action was all on location, the streets of NYC, the tunnels of the NYC subway and the actual train it self. It's so realistic your eye's will be glued to the screen. MY FAVORITE....more info
  • MAGNIFICENT 1970'S CAPER FILM
    This is one movie that I just love watching whenever it pops up on TV. A movie that really epitomizes the look and feel of a gritty, crime-ridden, 1970's New York city. Brilliantly acted by all parties and masterfully paced by Director Joseph Sargent, this is a classic caper film with Walter Matthau playing a dramatic role that he was really underrated in.

    Four criminals led by the former British soldier Robert Shaw hijack a NYC subway train, holding the passengers hostage and demanding a one million dollar ransom for their release. The four criminals all wear similar costumes including glasses and mustaches, and are armed with machine guns. Shaw is Mr. Blue the leader, and he's joined by Mr. Green (Martin Balsam) who knows how to drive a train, Mr. Gray (Hector Elizondo) who is only too eager to shoot a hostage, and Mr. Brown (Earl Hindman). The four board at different stops and soon commandeer the train and make their demands.

    Matthau plays Lt. Garber, a transit cop who is alternately trying to negotiate as well as stall the hijackers until the NYC cops can try to capture them. It's probably the first time anyone got a glimpse into the nerve center of the subway control station where all the trains are routed. While it looks dated by today' standards it was still interesting to see. Joining Matthau is the great Jerry Stiller as Lt. Rico Patrone, another tough transit cop and the interplay between he and Matthau is wonderful as they debate how to handle the situation. Rounding out the cast are some great character actors whose names you may not know but whose faces you'll recognize instantly including Dick O'Neill and Tom Pedi. Doris Roberts of "Everybody Loves Raymond" fame even has a bit part as the mayor's wife.

    The tension builds as the cops try to figure out just how in the heck the criminals expect to escape the subway tunnels even if the ransom is paid. Shaw is quite powerful in one of his best screen roles as the tough, but somewhat gentlemanly leader of the hijackers. He is a man who planned for all contingencies to keep him always a step ahead of the police. Matthau is just as brilliant and there's a hilarious scene where he is giving a group of Japanese transit authorities a tour of the control room and insults them not knowing the speak English. The look on his face is priceless!

    What a gem of a movie this is. Great Thriller with terrific performances from everyone involved....more info
  • Historical Landmark Alert
    Historical Landmark Alert: in one of the shots of Walter Matthau sitting in the back seat of a speeding police car, you can see the Twin Towers through the rear window.

    I can't really be objective about this movie since I was there at the time and I walked through Astor Place (where the police car hits the bicycle) on my way to school and I knew someone who was one of the extras in the street crowd around the subway entrance. But as far as I'm concerned there's only one flaw: we don't get to hear Robert Shaw's nigh-superhuman shouting voice. Other actors pulled their vocal muscles trying to shout like him. See for instance A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS: "Treachery, treachery, treachery! It maddens me! ... It is a deadly kanker on the body politic, and I WILL HAVE IT OUT!" Or, THE STING: "But my MONEY's in there!" Also some demonstrations in BLACK SUNDAY and FORCE 10 FROM NAVERONE. The screenwriters must not have known.

    Don't let Shaw and Matthau make you overlook the great Martin Balsam. How many actors could play a lovable terrorist in a non-comedy and make it work this well??? Hector Elisondo also does a nice job of making a very one-dimensional, cartoonish character interesting....more info
  • Received fine
    Received movie quicker than expected and in fine shape. The DVD played just fine, no skips/scratches.
    Thanks...more info
  • Highly entertaining movie
    Really enjoyed watching this movie. My son recommended it to my after watching it in his film study class at college. It was very well done. The writing and acting were great and the movie was very suspenseful without being highly violent. I would recommended this movie to anyone....more info
  • 70's action without being dated
    "The Taking of Pelham 123" is 70's action without being stuck in that decade. The film's use of the seamy streets and subways of New York, and of great NY characters, is perfect. Mathau as Lt. Garber is cool, but it is Robert Shaw as the head terrorist who steals the show. Interestingly, the audience never finds out his reasons for what he is doing, which adds to the mystery. His character is a precursor to such hijacker villains as Dennis Hopper in "Speed" and Gary Sinise in "Ransom." This film is great fun and provides a fresh look at the madman vs. cop theme from a time before Hollywood went effects-happy....more info
  • One of the Best NY movies ever made....
    It has the feel , and action of an average day in NYC, gone a little out of control.....True grit, suspense, and realistic human connections. One of Walter Matthau better roles. Violence without gore..No sex...and pretty realistic..Despite the fact that it is a hijacked subway car....Recommeded for anyone's video Library....more info
  • great 70's flick...
    In the same way that "The Naked City" portrays New York City of the forties, "Pelham" does justice to the 70's. This is a great movie! Did anyone notice that the opening theme music was also used in the more recent Mel Gibson movie, "Payback"?...more info