Taking of Pelham One Two Three [1974]

Director: Joseph Sargent
Stars: Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, Hector Elizondo, Earl Hindman
Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 104 minutes

Dog Day Afternoon. Annie Hall. Taxi Driver. In the pantheon of classic New York films, these three take pride of place. But there are, of course, others, some of which have fallen through the cracks over the years, criminally overlooked and unjustly relegated to commercial-riddled Saturday-afternoon TV broadcasts. Joseph Sargent's The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is just such a picture. This taut 1974 thriller about four armed men who highjack a New York City subway train and hold it and its passengers for ransom may be hopelessly dated (it's loaded with ethnic stereotypes, impossibly wide neckties, and bad hairdos--and there are no explosions!), but that's part of the fun. A gruffly sardonic Walter Matthau heads a fine cast that includes Jerry Stiller, Hector Elizondo, Martin Balsam, and a perfectly villainous pre-Jaws Robert Shaw. Think you'll find a better film that depicts a nearly broke city led by an inept mayor forced to deal with armed terrorists? Fuhgeddaboutit! --Steve Landau

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