Combined the average ratings (Critic's & Users) from IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and Letterboxd, and then weighted and tweaked the results…
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
We are going to kill one passenger a minute until New York City pays us 1 million dollars.
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?
"Even great men have to pee."
Yes, even Walter Matthau.
The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three is a film that had the misfortune of being a thriller made in the 1970s. What this meant was that instead of getting the absolute widespread plaudits, awards and huge box office that it quite obviously deserves, it ended up bubbling under a fair amount of the massive numbers of other similar films made in the decade.
It's not the fault of the film or anyone involved - it just happens like that sometimes. There is no doubt in my mind, though, that this is not only every bit as deserving as other more iconic films from the decade such as The French…
I only reviewed this last December. And I said that I wasn't doing any more rewatches in this season. But it's my birthday today so I'm not even slightly sorry. No I won't tell you how old I am, fuck off.
This was probably my sixth or seventh viewing of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three and this time round my thoughts turned to why this is a cut above almost every other film of its type, not just from this decade, but from any decade. I wonder if it's because it isn't really of this 'type', if you know what I mean. It's not just the central plot, which sees a bunch of colour-monikered…
Aside from Walter Matthau's questionable fashion sense, there really was no need to remake this film in 2009.
This near-perfect thriller wastes no time getting into the action, as we see the events begin to unfold immediately, and the suspense doesn't let up until the end.
Yeah, I watched it again. Problem with that?
This time I have three really good reasons for doing so.
1) It sort of ties in nicely with my current project.
2) I've been asked to write an article about film soundtracks for a friend's website and I decided to choose this one as the subject, so I had to watch it for research.
3) Well, because it's The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three.
I probably can't come up with a review for it this time that doesn't just rake over the ground that I covered in my review here. Oh, and this one here. Suffice to say that it's still one of my top ten of all time.
Four hoods hold a New York City subway train hostage for, <voice occupation="doctor" nature="evil">$1,000,000!</voice>
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three has immaculate and speedy characterisation; in the first 7 minutes we know everything we need to about each of the hijackers without one of them speaking a word. The cast? You'll be busy going "hey, isn't that..." as this film has some of the greatest character actors around, and Steve, you're right about the soundtrack... sparsely used but Shire brings in some stonking horns and wild percussion when needed!
You may have noticed I've used the term "character" a couple of times? That's because that's what this film has: character. Something the glossy and forgettable Tony Scott remake was…
Having already seen the remake I was in no rush to see this one, I thought I knew all there was to know about The Taking of Pelham One Two Three but I forgot that this was the 70 in America and that was THE Walter Matthau as the hero. Thank goodness for my decision to watch more movies from this decade as research or I might never have gotten around to it.
Tony Scott's film was actually enjoyable in its own way, but everything about this original adaptation feels exactly that, original. Despite filling its hostages with some well chosen minorities (remarkably similar in makeup to the earlier hostges on a train film The Incident) it never really feels…
"Oh, come on. If I've got to watch my language just because they let a few broads in, I'm going to quit. How the hell can you run a goddamn railroad without swearing?"
> One thing i admired about this compared to the remake was that it creates ambiguity among the antagonists unlike the latter which uses personal information to hold it against the character.
>Matthau is a huge improvement over Washington in the smaller moments and his sarcasm never lets up. How can you forget the final expression on his face.
> Britishers always make for delicious villains. Ryder aka Squint aka Robert Shaw brings an eeriness to the character while Travolta was more operatic with tattoos et al.
>David Shire's creates a cracking background score.
> Watch out for two characters from Seinfeld and Everybody Loves Raymond :-)
I was completely engaged in re-watching The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, despite having just watched it about six months ago; that's a sign of a pretty excellent film.
There must be over fifty short naturalistic performances dotted throughout this thriller - police officers, passengers, metro staff, members of the public, officials. They make a fairly straightforward heist thriller breathe - they make the hijacking of a subway train a slice-of-life daily occurrence in a living city. They give it lightness - a sense of grim frequently-coarse humour that humanises the events. As a potboiler it doesn't really stand up - as a piece of New York street art it is completely essential.
Such a great film. Owen Roizman has grown into a fine cinematographer since The French Connection. Exhilarating set up and follow through. A lot of people hate the title, but trust me, it packs a New York punch. Classic 70s American Cinema.
Viewed on DVD
Alta tensão em Nova Iorque, as it was translated in Portuguese, "Ultra Tension In New York", The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three was released in North America in October 02 1974.
Being born September 9 1974 in Portugal, I was a few weeks old when this excellent and under appreciated film was released.
Its influence is on future heist/crime films like Reservoir Dogs is endless.
According to IMDB:In a TVO (Ontario, Canada) interview, the producer said that this film did terrific box office in New York, Toronto, London and Paris - all cities with subways - but was considered a flop in the rest of the world.
This movie is so 70's and so New York. Although there were some cheesy moments, I really dug it. Walter Matthau's NY accent is solid gold. Everyone is bristly in this movie and no one has time for this shit. Turns out, that's what makes this film so great.
"The guy who's talkin's got a heavy English accent. He could be a fruitcake"
Gritty '70s action movie meets workplace comedy.
A hodgepodge of tone, genre, and dialogue....TAKING OF PELHAM works in spite of itself. Partly a great cast, great script with often hilarious exchanges, and a crude sense of city living. The film is a strange one, but not in a way that hinders itself, but certainly in a way that makes it all the more fascinating.
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