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January 30, 20242 Mins Read

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three Official Trailer #1 – Walter Matthau Movie (1974) HD

It’s all but impossible to watch Pelham’s first 90 seconds and not think, “Oh, man, this is gonna be awesome.

Fortunately, the movie delivers. Adapted from a best-selling novel by John Godey (the pen name of Morton Freedgood), it depicts, nearly in real time, the hijacking of a New York subway train by four identically disguised and heavily armed men (Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, Hector Elizondo, and Earl Hindman) who refer to each other using color-based code names: Mr. Blue, Mr. Green, etc. (Somewhere in Los Angeles, nearly 20 years later, a video store employee named Quentin was taking notes.) As the transit cop in charge of the hostage negotiations, Walter Matthau tones down his patented sardonicism in favor of an immensely appealing rumpled professionalism—a bold move, considering that he’s constantly in danger of being upstaged by his blinding yellow necktie. The hijackers demand [Dr. Evil voice] one million dollars in cash, with Shaw’s no-nonsense leader warning that he’ll kill one hostage for each minute that the payment is late. While Gotham’s feckless mayor (Lee Wallace) eventually agrees to pay, the real question is how the hijackers plan to escape with the loot, given that they’re trapped in an underground tunnel. [Mike D’Angelo]

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