Movie of the Week: The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)

Joseph Sargent directs Robert Shaw, Walter Matthau and Martin Balsam in this action thriller where armed men take a New York Subway train hostage and demand a cool million within a tight one hour deadline.

An immaculate entertainment. A salty sense of time and place… AND THAT TIME AND PLACE IS 70s NYC… the coolest, sleaziest, corduroy brownest time and place. A jazzy alarm bell of a score by David Shire, it just may be the greatest movie theme ever. A frumpy but wry turn by Walter Matthau, more Captain Philips meets Columbo than John McClane. A dictatorial slice of coiled villainy from Robert Shaw as the intractable villain with a plan. The crammed ensemble is just as poppin’. Even down to the twentieth or thirtieth billed there are gems of character actor work. Jerry Stiller gets crumpled laughs with every couldn’t-give-a-shit utterance that comes out of his mouth. The eventual kinetics pelt along with a real world logic and desperation grips like a vice. Will they make the cash drop deadline? Will the villains getaway? How can the hostages survive their fate? And the movie remains gleefully cynical and fleet footed right up until the final shot. A savoury double bill tasting partner with the first Die Hard. “What Do the Fucking Passengers Expect for a Lousy 35 Cents – To Live Forever?”


Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog

We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here

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