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|Index||161 reviews in total|
88 out of 102 people found the following review useful:
film student's action picture, 7 February 2006
Author: greenforest56 from San Francisco, California
There are many disappointing action pictures out there this is not
one of them. The genius of the film is there is no wasted motion. The
picture starts right with the plot no introduction or character
development. The characters are allowed to develop as the plot moves
Which brings us to pacing the pacing in this picture is excellent. It moves right along and never stops, never slows, never goes too fast. This is the strongest element of its success.
Another strength is its economy of motion. Many action pictures bore us with unneeded car chase scenes, shoot-em-ups, explosions and other mayhems that are used as filler when true creativity comes up short. This film needs none of that. Only that which is necessary is shown. Only that which needs speaking is spoken. This film is deftly written and crafted with great economy and this underpins the excellent pacing. It moves right along because there is no wasted motion as there is in most other action pictures.
This does not mean there is no action, there is fabulous action, but only such action as is necessary to move the plot along. There is no action simply to occupy time until the requisite 90 minutes are up.
The directing is equally economical. No fancy shots, shaky cameras, or special effects just good, straight forward directing.
I doubt this picture could be made today for the above reasons. The script readers would reject it for 'lack of development'; 'not enough action'; 'no romantic interest'; and all the other brainless formulas script readers dole out. The producers would demand 'more action' and 'camera work' from the directors. And, of course, a romantic interest (in some state of undress) would have to be shoe horned in.
Film students should study this picture. From it they will learn that brevity is a virtue and mindless formulas are just that - mindless.
64 out of 77 people found the following review useful:
Filled with exciting moments and heart-pounding suspense., 27 October 2002
Author: mhasheider from Sauk City, Wisconsin
Sharp and fast-paced thriller that follows an easy-going N.Y.C. transit
cop (Walter Matthau) who's forced to out-match the wits of four well-armed
gunmen and their resilient leader (Robert Shaw) who are holding eighteen
passengers on a subway train and demand one million dollars within the
Made in the era of smart, stylish, and ingenius thrillers ('70s), this film didn't fail to loose my attention at all. In addition to Matthau and Shaw, the supporting cast (Hector Elizondo, Martin Balsam, Jerry Stiller, Tony Roberts, and so forth) is are just as excellent as the two unflappable leads. This well-polished crime movie is filled with exciting moments and heart-pounding suspense. Plus, there are some quirky one-liners thrown into the story as well.
56 out of 66 people found the following review useful:
My favorite crime drama of the '70s. Maybe ever., 5 February 2004
Author: Greg (GregCnAZ@aol.com) from Phoenix, AZ U.S.A
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
was 14 at a drive-in theater in Northern CA. It holds a memorable place
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,
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.
54 out of 67 people found the following review useful:
What a Thrill!, 1 November 2004
Author: lancaster2778 from New York, USA
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!
48 out of 60 people found the following review useful:
Much imitated, never bettered., 21 October 2002
Author: jckruize from North Hemis
Modern tough-guy filmmakers like Quentin Tarentino acknowledge their debt to
this pedal-to-the-metal thriller, directed by Joseph Sargent from John
Godey's bestseller. Walter Matthau is a hoot as the savvy NY transit cop
who's smarter than he looks, well-matched by Robert Shaw as the icy
mercenary whose gang has hijacked a subway car for a one-million-dollar
This film's been imitated so often because its makers were really at the top of their game. Owen Roizman (THE FRENCH CONNECTION) handled the gritty location photography; scripter Peter Stone contributed terse, funny dialogue; scene-stealers like Martin Balsam, Jerry Stiller, Dick O'Neill and others made their roles indelible; and David Shire's percussive score set a standard for the genre.
The ending is classic. When you have Matthau as your star, this is how to end your movie.
39 out of 43 people found the following review useful:
The best heist film of all time!!!, 14 April 2001
Author: (email@example.com) from Las Vegas NV 89122
A group of heavily armed men, all wearing the same disguises board a subway
train underneath the streets of New York. They quickly take over the train
and hold seventeen passengers hostage. They look and talk like
professionals. They use codenames. Their ransom demand is One Million
Dollars. Are these just maniacs without a plan? And if they do have a plan,
how are they all going to escape alive while the world
Right away, this film grabs you and doesn't let go. Every character plays their role remakably and memorably. Enough suspense to keep you chewing your nails until they are stubs...and most of all, a realistic and engrossing storyline. You will literally be on the edge of your seat, wondering where the next plot twist will take you.
You can easily see where Quentin Tarantino borrowed ideas from this movie to make Reservoir Dogs...and in my opinion, this film makes Reservior Dogs look like a second rate film. Its truly a shame most people aren't familiar with this movie and it doesn't have the allure or big star power to draw in new fans seeking out a great film to watch
If you happen to run across The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three though, do not pass it up! This is honestly the best heist movie I've ever seen. 10 out of 10 Rating.
39 out of 44 people found the following review useful:
This was meant to be Carry On At Your Convenience..., 20 October 2003
Author: M_Brown from England
... Thank Goodness it wasn't!
I switched on me TV last night after an evening out and the opening credits of Pelham was just finishing. Not knowing the name of this film (the Carry On listing was clearly not being shown, perhaps the Producer-dude had a revelation of taste!) I began to watch it half-heartedly, whilst prostrate on the sofa.
By the end of the movie, and that glorious last look from Matthau, I was sitting blot-upright with the biggest grin I've had on my face at 2am for a long time!
What a flick! What a film! How good was this simple, little, under-rated, under-stated movie? Very.
See this film, forgive it for being written in the 70-ties, in fact revel in that non-PC fact (the Chinese/Lady jokes are, retrospectively, quite amusing, in a non-Carry On way).
They just don't make 'um like this anymore. Simple, sweet, suspense.
38 out of 44 people found the following review useful:
Another example of why the 70's was the finest decade for films., 28 September 2006
Author: ntvnyr30 from Staten Island, NY
It is my belief that the finest era for films was the 1970's. Consider
all the classics that were produced in that era (Godfather I and II,
Patton, The Sting, Jaws, Mean Streets, The Exorcist, The French
Connection, Star Wars etc). My belief was recently validated by Jodie
Foster, who essentially said the same thing. One of the reasons why the
films were great was that the directors were ostensibly in control of
the films, rather than by a committee of the usual Hollywood "insiders"
who think they know what people want to see, but rarely make the
I know that this film was re-made( for TV)--God knows why--but I'm sure if they attempted another film version Matt Damon would be playing the grizzled transit police cop (Matthau's role) and Jude Law would be playing the Robert Shaw role. That's another reason why the original and other films of the 70's were so great: the casting was more believable. Today Hollywood is so incredibly youth-obsessed that actors are completely miscast.
I am not stating that this is another 70's classic, but even this film is far superior to many of today's films. And yet, I'll bet you couldn't find "Pelham" in your local video store.
I love several things about this film. The first thing to hit you is that wonderful, funky score that in some parts sounds like controlled chaos. I love the script, which is not completely dark despite the underlying theme, as there are some very funny moments throughout the film: for instance, the chagrined look on Matthau's face when he discovers the Japanese visitors can speak English.
There are many examples of mistaken identity in this film: the supervisor who is gunned down is called "goombah", but he isn't Italian; Matthau thinks the black police captain is white over the radio; Matthau mistakes the long-haired undercover cop (who was shot on the train tracks) for a female. I also love the character who plays the mayor, who unbelievably bears a striking resemblance to Mayor Koch, who was elected 3 years later!!!! All in all a great action film, and one that will hold up for years.
Addendum: Well, they're doing it--they're re-making this film because Hollywood is almost completely bereft of new ideas (see "Josie and the Pussycats" "Bewitched" the upcoming "I Dream of Jeannie"). I half-expect they will remake "The Paper Chase" next with P.Diddy as Professor Kingsfield.
28 out of 30 people found the following review useful:
"Pelham 1-2-3 is in motion", 28 May 2007
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
One of my favorite films from the seventies is The Taking of Pelham
One, Two Three because it's so New York. Of course the film was shot
entirely on location in The Big Apple including the interiors which
helped greatly. But more than that, the characters have all the New
York flavor about them with one exception.
The cat of course is led by Walter Matthau who plays a Transit Police Lieutenant. His character is a kind of combination of Archie Bunker and Detective Lennie Briscoe from Law and Order, in many ways not terribly admirable. He's also a transit cop and at that time the Transit Police were a separate entity. They were merged into the regular NYPD during the Giuliani administration.
There's no real glory in the Transit Police, these guys were mostly charged with dealing with drunks and kids with loud boom boxes. If a homicide ever occurred the NYPD quickly took it over as they would in most situations. But this ongoing crisis on a train on the Lexington Avenue Local occurs on his watch and it's career make or break case that Matthau is very aware of. And he proves fully capable during the crisis.
The crisis is four men, Robert Shaw, Earl Hindman, Hector Elizondo, and Martin Balsam mount a carefully planned assault on a subway train out of Pelham Bay station in the Bronx in mid-Manhattan and hold it and the passengers for ransom for a million dollars. The outsider to New York is Robert Shaw in one of his best roles, a former British army officer and mercenary. During the course of the robbery they kill a station supervisor played by roly poly Tom Pedi, one very quintessential New Yorker and their coldblooded villainy is established.
In fact the whole cast is a microcosm of the ethnic strains of New York City which makes the film so enjoyable, especially to one who lived there, the first 49 years of his life. Even the mayor is portrayed as a weak, fumbling nonentity and back then our mayor was one Abraham D. Beame who was just that, probably one of the worst mayors the city ever had. Tony Roberts has a very good role as the tough as nails Deputy Mayor concerned about both his boss's political career and resolving the crisis.
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three once the hijack is done is suspense filled and doesn't let up for a moment. I can't give the ending away, but the final shot of Walter Matthau's face as the end title music starts and the credits begin to roll is priceless.
19 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
"Still great entertainment after thirty odd years"!, 16 January 2007
Author: Graham Watson from Gibraltar
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's hard to convince anybody today that they could make a
thriller/hijack movie with a bunch of middle age actors all men, with a
lot of dialog, no cute women wearing tank tops and most of it being
seen in either a dull looking subway carriage or else a grim looking
New York city subway dispatchers office, ----- they would say that your
out of your mind! Well they did way back in 1974, of course it would
have to be that far back! All in all absorbing viewing with a great
bunch of 70's character actors.
Four men dressed very much in a similar fashion, i.e. horn rim glasses, trilbies, khaki gabardine raincoats and a fake mustache decide to hold hostage a carriage full of bewildered passengers who resemble New York finest type of freak show. A pimp, a foul mouthed hooker, a drunk, a bag lady, a wino well I could go on, you know what I mean! They were led by Mr. Blue played by Robert Shaw a cool no nonsense and ruthless former British army type/mercenary who when his lucrative work dried up decided to use his skills to rob or extort one-million dollars to keep up with the lifestyle he had become accustomed to. He was backed up by a mafia reject, the crazed and unpredictable Mr. Gray who couldn't wait to show who was boss and was keen to rack up a body count, or as he put it "get on the scoreboard"! He didn't like to take orders and it took a lot to keep him in line. There was Mr. Brown and lastly Mr Blue who was a former transit employee who held a grudge against the authority and wasn't satisfied with his pension.
Lieutenant Garber was the head of the transit security played by Walter Matthau who found himself the unfortunate go between or negotiator during the hostage stage. His New York dialect and humor was a great contrast to the methodical leader of the gang with the English accent who took himself very seriously and was prepared to kill anybody at any time in cold blood. Admittedly this type of negotiation would be ridiculous today, he wasn't even in anyway qualified to negotiate with the hijackers. Also, Garber not only had deal with Mr. Green but also found himself up against one of the head dispatchers who couldn't care less about the predicament of the hijacked passengers but was more concerned about getting his trains running on time. This approach would not cut it today 30 years on, hostage taking requires a more professional approach. However, he does his best and on a couple of occasions his quick thinking is able to save the lives of some the hostages.
Anyway the crooks only wanted money, there was no political reason, but were highly motivated, very well organized and determined. This was understood very quickly when one of the subway station managers Caz Dolowicz or known as "fat Caz" took exception to these upstarts and decided berate the hijackers and board the train. Just to prove that the hijackers meant business they gave him a 'lead breakfast' and he was ripped apart by the hail of bullets discharged from an automatic weapon which made him look like a swiss cheese!
It's great viewing, quite entertaining and has a very typical but jazzy 1970's music score that accompanies the movie. I would highly recommend this film, 70's movies don't get more interesting or as watch able as this.
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