“The Taking Of Pelham 1-2-3!” This “Cult Movie Monday” Has A Great Hijacking Thrill Ride Under New York City!

Mr. Blue: “I once had a man shot for talking to me like that.”
Mr. Gray: “Yeah, well, that’s the difference between you and me. I’ve always done my own killing.”

With that “sharp as nails” dialogue, this “Cult Movie Monday” heads to New York City for a terrific crime action thriller starring a great cast!

THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1-2-3. 1974.

Take some of the greatest character Actors of the 70’s, add some dynamite action sequences…blend it with sharp dialogue and a delicious sense of humor and you have one of the great action films of the 70’s. You also have one of the great 70’s movie posters.

Check out the trailer:

Here is the plot summary of “The Taking Of Pelham 1-2-3, courtesy of IMDB:

Four armed men hijack a New York City subway train and demand 1 million dollars – which must be delivered in 1 hour – for the train and the lives of the passengers held hostage. Lt. Zachary Garber of the New York City Transit Police must contend with City Hall red tape, the unrelenting demands of the hijackers, and the ever-ticking clock in his efforts to save the passengers and bring the hijackers to justice.

Legendary Actor Walter Matthau plays Lt. Rico Patrone, who oversees the crime unit for the NY Subway. He is willing to admit that their job isn’t that exciting:


“We had a bomb scare in the Bronx yesterday, but it turned out to be a cantaloupe.”

Robert Shaw plays the leader of the hijackers, Mr. Blue. Shaw starred in a number of classic 70’s films, such as “The Sting” and “Jaws”, and he was the nearly-unstoppable killer in the 007 gem “From Russia With Love.”

Martin Balsam and Hector Elizondo are among the thieves. Balsam brings the “every man” feel to the movie, a regular guy looking to get what he thinks he’s due. Hector Elizondo is terrific as Mr. Gray…that’s right, this is the movie where all of the hijackers called each other by colors…something Quentin Tarantino used effectively in “Reservoir Dogs”.

Mr. Blue: “I once had a man shot for talking to me like that.”
Mr. Gray: “Yeah, well, that’s the difference between you and me. I’ve always done my own killing.”

What makes this movie so terrific is that the hijackers don’t necessarily get along – they are all just there to get the job done, and that friction plays out as the hijacking drags on.

Mr. Blue: Will you go back and mind the passengers, please? I do not want Mr. Brown and Mr. Grey left alone with them.
Mr. Green: Don’t you trust them?
Mr. Blue: I trust Mr. Brown, I do not trust Mr. Grey. I think he’s an enormous, arrogant pain in the ass who could turn out to be trouble. I also think that he is mad. Why do you think they threw him out of the Mafia?
Mr. Green: Oh, terrific.

Jerry Stiller has a small role as a train supervisor – in fact the movie is full of great actors in small roles, such as Tony Roberts, who plays Deputy Mayor Warren LaSalle.

In one of the more humorous sequences, the Deputy Mayor takes no guff from a very weak Mayor of New York as they discuss whether to pay the $1-million dollar ransom:

taking+of+pelham+123+poster

Deputy Mayor Warren LaSalle: All right, Al. You’ve heard from the Three Wise Men. Now what do you say?
Mayor: What are THEY going to say, Warren?
Deputy Mayor Warren LaSalle: “They” who?
Mayor: Who? Everybody – the press, the man on the street.
Mayor’s wife: He means the voters.
Deputy Mayor Warren LaSalle: You know what they’re going to say. The Times is going to support you. The News is going to knock you. The Post will take both sides at the same time. The rich will support you, likewise the blacks, and the Puerto Ricans won’t give a shit. So come on, Al, quit stalling!
Mayor: Will you stop bullying everybody, Warren? This is supposed to be a democracy!
Deputy Mayor Warren LaSalle: Wise up, for chrissake, we’re trying to run a city, not a goddamn democracy! Al, quit farting around – we’ve got to pay!
Mayor: Jessie, Jessie, what do you say?
Mayor’s wife: I know a million dollars sounds like a lot of money. But just think what you’ll get in return.
Mayor: What?
Mayor’s wife: Eighteen sure votes.
Mayor: All right, all right. Warren, Warren, arrange for the payoff!
Deputy Mayor Warren LaSalle: Hallelujah! Alright, fellas, you heard him. Phil, pass the word to the bad guys that we’re coughing up. Sid, what bank do we do the most business with?
Transit Authority Chairman: City National Trust. I’ll give them a call.
Deputy Mayor Warren LaSalle: I’ll call. You’ll take an hour trying to knock down the interest rate.

This humorous exchange helps give the film a gritty realness…

Lots of great dialogue between Matthau and Shaw as well, such as when they argue about the fast-approaching deadline:


Mr. Blue: It is 2:24, Lieutenant, you’ve got forty-nine minutes.
Lt. Garber: Be reasonable, will you? We’re trying to cooperate with you but we can’t do anything if you don’t give us enough time to work with.
Mr. Blue: Forty-nine minutes.
Lt. Garber: We’re dealing with City Hall, for God’s sake, you know what a mess of red tape that is?
Mr. Blue: Forty-nine minutes.
Lt. Garber: Look, fella, we know how to tell time as well as you do, but we’re not gonna get anywhere if all you do is repeat forty-nine minutes!
Mr. Blue: Forty-*eight* minutes.
Lt. Garber: Yeah, all right, we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.
[after shutting off the mic]
Lt. Garber: Son of a bitch.

“The Taking Of Pelham 1-2-3” has a lot of action, really great action, and a terrific finale…it also established Matthau as an action star!

Yes, the veteran Character Actor was known for his comedic roles, but he had a run of great 70’s action as well – here are details:


https://johnrieber.com/2014/02/07/bank-robbers-and-bus-massacres-charley-varrick-the-laughing-policeman-walter-matthau-action-star/

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Let me know if you’ve seen this great 70’s action film!



Categories: 70's Cinema, Action Films, Cult Movies, Film Fight Club, Great Films, Hollywood, Movies, New York, Obscure Movies, Pop Culture, Talent/Celebrities

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11 replies

  1. I have a vague idea that I did a long time ago. Your post, though, makes me want to go and see it now 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved this movie!!!!!

    Like

  3. This sounds very exciting, John. I have actually seen Jaws and From Russia with Love but I don’t recognise Robert Shaw.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shaw was the crusty old Quinn in Jaws, the blond killer in FRWL, the mobster who gets conned by Paul Newman and Robert Redford in The Sting, and in “123” he is a great “bad guy” – cold, heartless, and determined…a great character Actor!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love that film so much, and never tire of watching it. The remake was completely unnecessary, in my opinion.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Like

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