HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Parasite
Looking On the Bright Side
Take Me Somewhere Nice
Simon
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Gentlemen Broncos
To the Stars
Lady Godiva Rides Again
Angelfish
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, A
This is a Hijack
Loved One, The
Jumanji: The Next Level
Krabi 2562
Call of the Wild, The
Diary of a Country Priest
Sea Fever
Throw Down
Grudge, The
Green Man, The
Specialists, The
Convoy
Romantic Comedy
Going Ape!
Rabid
Infinite Football
Little Women
Camino Skies
Ema
Another Shore
Cry Havoc
Legend of the Stardust Brothers, The
Mystery Team
Westward the Women
Demonwarp
Man Who Killed Don Quixote, The
Chloe
Jojo's Bizarre Adventure
Murder Inferno
   
 
Newest Articles
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
Too Much Pressure: The Family Way on Blu-ray
The Alan Key: Alan Klein and What a Crazy World on Blu-ray
A Japanese Ghost Story: Kwaidan on Blu-ray
The Zu Gang: Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain on Blu-ray
Reality TV: The Year of the Sex Olympics on DVD
The Young and the Damned: They Live By Night on Blu-ray
Mind How You Go: The Best of COI on Blu-ray
Der Kommissar's in Town: Babylon Berlin Series 3 on DVD
The End of Civilisation as We Know It: The 50th Anniversary
The Whalebone Box: The Andrew Kotting Interview
Being Human: The Elephant Man on 4K UHD Blu-ray
It's! Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 3 on Blu-ray
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling on Blu-ray
   
 
  Taking of Pelham One Two Three, The Green For Danger
Year: 1974
Director: Joseph Sargent
Stars: Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, Hector Elizondo, Earl Hindman, James Broderick, Dick O'Neill, Lee Wallace, Tom Pedi, Beatrice Winde, Jerry Stiller, Nathan George, Rudy Bond, Kenneth McMillan, Doris Roberts, Julius Harris, Tony Roberts
Genre: ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  9 (from 5 votes)
Review: It seems like just another day on the New York City subway, but it is not. As the passengers climb aboard the train known as Pelham One Two Three, they are unaware they are about to be plunged into danger. This is down to the three men, all dressed alike with moustaches, glasses and long overcoats, who board with them, and the man (Robert Shaw) who has approached the driver with a gun drawn and asked him to allow his accomplice (Martin Balsam) into the cab to take over the driving. What they have planned is an audacious ransom of an entire subway carriage - but how can they possibly escape?

In a decade of excellent, gritty thrillers, the seventies produced some genuine classics, yet The Taking of Pelham One Two Three was not immediately recognised as one of them. However, its reputation has only grown in stature over the years to the point that it now looks to be one of the greatest suspense pictures of its era, surprising for a film that reputedly flopped everywhere except the cities that had an underground railway system. Frequent showings on television caught out the casual viewer who found themselves utterly absorbed against their expectations, adding to the work's cult following.

It was based on the now largely forgotten bestselling novel by John Godey, a book with an ingenious premise where the carriage is hijacked by four sinister men, known only by their codenames: Shaw is Mr Blue, Balsam is Mr Green, and so forth. In Peter Stone's adaptation, we are always one step behind Mr Blue, who as the story draws on looks more and more like a criminal mastermind, and we share the intrigue of the transport police's Lieutenant Garber (Walter Matthau) about what precisely he has up his sleeve. Matthau and Shaw may only meet in one scene, but they are excellent antagonists, with Blue's icy control and Garber's laidback attitude masking deeply felt frustration.

Once Blue has separated the lead carriage from the rest of them, he and his cohorts - and the passengers - settle in the near-dark of a tunnel with only the radio to the control room linking them to the outside world. From there he contacts Garber and makes his demands: one million dollars to be brought to him in one hour. And if this doesn't happen? He starts killing one passenger per minute until the cash arrives. The situation is desperate, made even more so by its depiction of the authorities above Garber as solely interested in how this crisis will make them look to the voters - the mayor, especially, is rendered in buffoonish terms.

So it's really the triumph of Garber and the lower level city security not only against the criminals, but the bureaucrats as well. Every opportunity to ramp up the tension is seized, to the extent that the patrol car racing to the station to hand over the money crashes. It may be the city's worst nightmare, but as a thriller it runs like a dream with a plot that is put together with the precision of a Swiss watch, and thanks to Joseph Sargent's crisp direction every crucial point is emphasised. Also helping is the satisfying snap of the dialogue, which can be very funny or bring out the pressure the characters are under with equal ease. The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is a true gem of its kind, raw and exciting and acted to perfection: Matthau was never better, and the expression on his face that comprises the film's final shot is one of the classic visual punchlines. And as if that were not enough, David Shire's jazzy and menacing musical score is one of the greats as well.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 3722 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (4)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
  Hannah Prosser
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
  Rachel Franke
Paul Smith
   

 

Last Updated: