“A train is down, its radio’s dead, the power’s off, and it’s dumped its load — aside from that, everything is ginger peachy.”
When a group of armed men, led by “Mr. Blue” (Robert Shaw), hijack a New York City subway car in exchange for a million dollars in ransom, it’s up to Lieutenant Garber (Walter Matthau) to save the day — if he can.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Martin Balsam Films
- New York City
- Robert Shaw Films
- Trains and Subways
- Walter Matthau Films
This darkly comedic heist flick has garnered renewed attention recently due to Tony Scott’s upcoming remake, starring Denzel Washington and John Travolta, and scheduled for release in 2009. Yet the original remains a worthy, well-acted flick, with Matthau and Shaw — star of The Luck of Ginger Coffey (1964) — perfectly cast as cat-and-mouse foils: both are immensely clever, and both are equally determined to succeed. Leavening the undeniably dark timbre of the script (numerous deaths occur) are several humorous subplots concerning the day-to-day workings of the New York City Transit Authority; the hostage situation is not only dangerous, but an inconvenience as well. Unfortunately, several plot holes mar what is otherwise a tightly scripted flick: Mr. Blue and his associates, for instance, never bother to check their passengers for hidden weapons, and their get-away plan is shaky at best. Regardless, The Taking of Pelham is guaranteed to appeal to fans of the genre, and will be especially enjoyable for anyone who’s ever taken a ride on the NYC Metro.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Walter Matthau as Lt. Garber
- Robert Shaw as “Mr. Blue”
- Effective use of New York subways
Yes, as an all around “good show” and popular favorite.