The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)

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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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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?

Director: Félix Enríquez Alcalá
Stars: Edward James Olmos, Vincent D'Onofrio, Donnie Wahlberg


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


Before this train reaches the next station it will become the scene of the most spectacular hijack ever attempted 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  »

Box Office


SEK 1,003,937 (Sweden)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The novel was a best seller in 1973. See more »


During Garber's tour with the Japanese visitors, he says that each train is named for its "terminus" and time that it departed. Thus, he says, a train leaving Woodlawn at 6:30 would be named "Woodlawn 630." Woodlawn is not the terminus (end of the line) of such a train, but its beginning. 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 »


Referenced in Perception: Warrior (2013) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

My favorite crime drama of the '70s. Maybe ever.
5 February 2004 | by (Phoenix, AZ U.S.A) – See all my reviews

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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