Armed men hijack a New York City subway train, holding the passengers hostage in return for a ransom, and turning an ordinary day's work for dispatcher Walter Garber into a face-off with the mastermind behind the crime.
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
The title derives from the train's radio call sign. When a New York City subway train leaves to make a run, it's given a call sign based on the time it left and where, in this case Pelham Bay Park Station at 1:23pm. See more »
At the end of the film, Patrone and Garber are investigating 9 subway motormen from the list of those fired. Presumably all in one day, they see one in a wheelchair, one at a tollbooth, and Longman. When they're at Longman's apartment door, Garber asks Patrone how many more suspects from the list they still need to see that day. Patrone answers, "6, 7, I don't know." Apparently both of these highly trained and experienced cops have very short memories, or can't count to three. See more »
Okay, kid, out loud now so's I can hear what you're sayin'.
I'm checkin' the passengers gettin' on and off...
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?
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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 »
With all the other plot summaries written here, I won't go into what this film is all about. I just want to say that I don't believe this genre has been done better, either before or since. I first saw "Pelham 1,2,3" when I was 14 at a drive-in theater in Northern CA. It holds a memorable place for me as the first R rated movie I ever saw, as well as the first time I ever heard the "F" word in a movie. But way beyond that, I was so completely sucked into the story even at my young age. Now all these years later, I still am. I own the movie and must see it periodically. I'm so glad, reading all the other user comments, to find that I'm just one of many who absolutely love this film. Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, and the rest of the cast are all brilliant. The comedy in the film is also outstanding and never out of place within the storyline. It simply serves to make the film more realistic. And last but not least, David Shire's score is the coolest. I only wish they had put a soundtrack out for this film. When I watch this movie, the music must be cranked.
Don't bother catching this film on TV. It's always completely hacked up. Rent it or buy the DVD. It will remind you just how much fun movies used to be.
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