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Stark melodrama about two thrill seeking tough guys who terrorize late-night passengers on a New York City train. The random victims are more concerned with their own problems than helping each other and pray that they won't be next. But it's going to take a lot more than prayer to end this nightmare of fear and violence. Film debut of both Martin Sheen and Tony Musante as the hoodlums. Written by
This is a terrific movie to watch today, 40 years after its release. As an essentially one-scene presentation, without any superstar members of the talented cast, and given the number of protest-type plays and films at this time of turmoil in the 1960's --- it is better now, not only for its story and performances, per se, but also as an excellent chronicle of these times.
The story of a group of individuals, threatened and intimidated by a couple of "toughs," has been told many times, in a variety of settings, depicting the victims' fright, indifference, and even occasional amusement. But this one does tells it about as well as possible. The seedy setting, a New York City subway car, at night, provides a time capsule example of the word "seedy." A group like this could be equally-menaced, say, held hostage in the Presidential Suite at the Waldorf, but the dramatic effect would never be the same.
Besides the drama - viewed now, four decades later - the film evokes a nostalgic view and feel of the 60's period. Martin Sheen and Tony Musante (a young 27 and 31, respectively), are outstanding, and Sheen's role, against-type, especially so. Beau Bridges is also 26 here, as is Donna Mills, and we also see Ed McMahon and Jan Sterling in their mid-40's. A very interesting view of these personalities then, along with the number of others in this outstanding ensemble.
A real gem, and one of those frequent reminders that the best films often are found elsewhere from the high-budget, superstar epics.
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