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The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)

In New York, armed men hijack a subway car and demand a ransom for the passengers. Even if it's paid, how could they get away?



(novel), (screenplay)

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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lee Wallace ...
Al - the Mayor of New York City
Tom Pedi ...
Beatrice Winde ...
Nathan George ...
Police Ptl. James
Rudy Bond ...
Phil - Police Commissioner
Harry - Borough Commander (as Kenneth Mc Millan)
Jessie - the Mayor's Wife


Four seemingly-unrelated men board subway train Pelham 1:23 at successive stations. Mr. Blue, Mr. Green, Mr. Grey and Mr. Brown are heavily armed and overpower the motorman and novice conductor to take control of the train. Between stations they separate the front car from the remainder of the train, setting passengers in the back cars and the motorman free. The four demand $1 million ransom within exactly one hour for the remaining eighteen hostages, including the conductor. If their demands are not met in time or their directions are not followed precisely, they will begin to shoot hostages dead, one every minute the money is late. Wisecracking Lt. Zach Garber of the transit police ends up being the primary communicator between the hijackers and the authorities, which includes transit operations, his own police force, the NYPD, and the unpopular and currently flu ridden mayor who will make the ultimate decision of whether to pay the ransom. Unknown to Garber, what may be working on ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


We are going to kill one passenger a minute until New York City pays us 1 million dollars. See more »


Action | Crime | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

14 November 1974 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

El tomar de Pelham uno dos tres  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The movie inspired two songs, Deadly Avenger's "We Took Pelham" and Carter USM's "The Taking of Peckham One Two Three". Moreover, the Beastie Boys' song "Sure Shot" features a lyric inspired by this film which says: "Well, it's the taking of Pelham, one, two, three / If you want a doodie rhyme then come see me". See more »


As the police car rushes uptown, the same buildings reflect off the car's windows several times. See more »


[first lines]
Mr. Mattson: Okay, kid, out loud now so's I can hear what you're sayin'.
Bud Carmody: I'm checkin' the passengers gettin' on and off...
Mr. Mattson: Uh-huh.
Bud Carmody: Front and back. Shuttin' the doors. Rear section first and the first section. And the doors are closed. Now I'm checking my indicator lights to make sure all the doors are locked. I remove my switch key and back out the window for a distance of three car lengths to make sure no one's being dragged. 51st Street next stop; next stop, 51st Street. How'd I do?
See more »

Crazy Credits

Although many of the scenes in this film were taken on transit property, the New York City Transit Authority is not responsible for plot, story and characters portrayed. The Authority did not render technical advice and assistance. See more »


Featured in Gerald Greenberg: Cutting on Action (2016) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

What a Thrill!
1 November 2004 | by (New York, USA) – See all my reviews

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!

64 of 77 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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