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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?

Director:

Joseph Sargent

Writers:

John Godey (novel), Peter Stone (screenplay)
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Popularity
3,982 ( 430)
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Walter Matthau ... Lt. Garber
Robert Shaw ... Blue
Martin Balsam ... Green
Hector Elizondo ... Grey
Earl Hindman ... Brown
James Broderick ... Denny Doyle
Dick O'Neill ... Correll
Lee Wallace ... The Mayor
Tom Pedi ... Caz Dolowicz
Beatrice Winde Beatrice Winde ... Mrs. Jenkins
Jerry Stiller ... Lt. Rico Patrone
Nathan George ... Ptl. James
Rudy Bond ... Police Commissioner
Kenneth McMillan ... Borough Commander (as Kenneth Mc Millan)
Doris Roberts ... Mayor's Wife
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

Everyone read it. Now you can live it. See more »

Genres:

Action | Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film contains a reference to the "motorman", which is what in many other countries would be referred to as the "train driver"/"tram driver". Additionally, and perhaps confusingly, some organisations, and films and tv series, may also refer to the "driver", as the "engineer". See more »

Goofs

A number of times late in the movie when Mr. Blue talks to Lt. Garver on the radio, he does not push the transmit button on the microphone. See more »

Quotes

Lt. Garber: [Repeated line to Mr. Green, each time, after he sneezes] Gesundheit.
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 »

Connections

Featured in David Shire: The Sound of the City (2016) See more »

User Reviews

 
"Pelham 1-2-3 is in motion"
28 May 2007 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

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.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

14 November 1974 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

El tomar de Pelham uno dos tres See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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