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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)

On Disc

at Amazon

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

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Walter Matthau ... Police Lt. Zachary Garber
Robert Shaw ... Bernard Ryder aka Blue
Martin Balsam ... Harold Longman aka Green
Hector Elizondo ... Giuseppe Benvenuto aka Grey
Earl Hindman ... George Steever aka Brown
James Broderick ... Denny Doyle - Train Conductor
Dick O'Neill ... Frank Correll
Lee Wallace Lee Wallace ... Al - the Mayor of New York City
Tom Pedi ... Caz Dolowicz
Beatrice Winde Beatrice Winde ... Mrs. Jenkins
Jerry Stiller ... Police Lt. Rico Patrone
Nathan George ... Police Ptl. James
Rudy Bond Rudy Bond ... Phil - Police Commissioner
Kenneth McMillan ... Harry - Borough Commander (as Kenneth Mc Millan)
Doris Roberts ... Jessie - The 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:

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

Genres:

Action | Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

14 November 1974 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Pelham See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$18,700,000, 31 December 1974
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Three cast members were later on Tim Allen sitcoms. Two were on Home Improvement (1991) (Earl Hindman as Tim Taylor's neighbor Wilson and Dick O'Neill as Tim's old metal shop teacher, Mr. Leonard) and the third was on Last Man Standing (2011) (Hector Elizondo as Mike Baxter's boss, Ed Alzate). See more »

Goofs

Mr. Blue tells his hostages that his sub-machine gun fires 750 rounds of 9mm per minute. In fact the S&W M76 fires 720 rounds per minute, so he was either wrong or bluffing. See more »

Quotes

Lt. Garber: Frank, how much longer before the track's clear all the way to South Ferry?
Correll: You mean before this railroad is so totally fucked up it'll take a computer to put it back together?
Lt. Garber: Yes, Frank, that's what I meant.
Correll: About five or six minutes. I got a snag over at Brooklyn Bridge.
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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

Referenced in Beastie Boys: Sure Shot (1994) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Another example of why the 70's was the finest decade for films.
28 September 2006 | by ntvnyr30See all my reviews

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 correct decisions.

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.


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