The NYC Subway Thriller Film ‘The Taking Of Pelham 1 2 3’ At 45

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, the 1974 action suspense yarn based on the novel by John Godey (the pen name of author Morton Freedgood) about four men who hijack a subway train in New York City and demand a million dollars within an hour for the return of the train and the hostages or they’ll be executed one-by-one for every minute the money is late, celebrates its 45th anniversary this month.

The film, a nicely made cocktail of comedy, action, and thrills, peppered with some sharp and perceptive NYC cynical dialogue by Peter Stone and delivered in realistic performances led by the late, wonderfully craggy versatility of Walter Matthau, still holds up today and still holds its own. Directed by Joseph Sargent, who directed television before helming Pelham and did absolute dreck like the third Jaws sequel years after it, more than finds his footing here however, and is able to walk all those cliché tightropes of comedy and drama, by doing it every way but cliché.

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Flashback Movie Review: 12 Angry Men

12 Angry Men – **** (Classic Movie)
Directed by Sidney Lumet
Starring Martin Balsam, John Fiedler, Lee J. Cobb, E. G. Marshall, Jack Klugman, Edward Binns, Jack Warden, Henry Fonda, Joseph Sweeney, Ed Begley, George Voskovec, Robert Webber

Twelve men walk into a smoldering, small, fan-less room. They are a jury and have to make their decision on whether or not an 18-year-old boy who stabbed his father to death is guilty or not guilty. We only see outside of the small room for 3 minutes (secondhand learning of the case, never any flashbacks) and in one of the scenes it shows the judge telling the jury to make their decision in a bored tone voice. He knows that the jury is going to vote “not-guilty,” but he’s wrong. Most of them are thinking that this is going to be a half-hour meeting. Some light up their cigarettes, open the windows to get a whiff of fresh air, and sit back ready to make their vote. The foreman of it all then lays down the rules that there has to be a unanimous decision and then asks to hear everyone’s verdict. Eleven hands go up for claiming the boy guilty, which would lead to the boy getting sentenced to the electric chair, but one lone hand is proudly raised for not guilty.

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