The Film (5/5)
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 is one of the great all time suspense pictures, and also one of the great New York in the 70's pictures. Though it is rarely mentioned as frequently as other established classics in the latter category like The French Connection and Taxi Driver. The film stars Robert Shaw (Jaws) as Mr. Blue, the mastermind behind a criminal operation to hold a New York City subway car hostage. With him are Mr. Green (Martin Balsam), Mr. Grey (Hector Elizondo), and Mr. Brown (Earl Hindman). Between the 4 of them they quickly commandeer the train, and contact the lieutenant at the Transit Authority Zachary Garber (Walter Matthau, The Odd Couple). They give Garber 1 hour to acquire 1 million dollars or else they will start killing passengers every minute. This sends Garber into motion, both to acquire the cash for the criminals, but also to assemble a team to stop them before they can make good on their threats.
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 is suspenseful storytelling at it's finest. The reasons for this are many, but a lot of it boils down to the screenplay by Peter Stone which quickly works to establish the characters, their motivations, and the situation quite quickly. This combined with the direction by Joseph Sargent which keeps things simple, and flowing with a fast, but steady pace is enough to keep viewers on the edge of their seat. His visual style contributed to by cinematographer Owen Roizman has a very raw straight forward look to it, that effectively captures the sights and sounds of 1970's New York, and allows the viewer to keep focused on the story as it unfolds.
The performances from the main cast are absolutely brilliant with Robert Shaw being a truly effective villain in Blue. With Matthau playing Garber as a jaded, but determined cop making damn sure justice occurs. We are also treated to a marvelous, and effective score by David Shire. It is a jazz piece, which is cool and smooth one moment, and chaotic and discordant the next in keeping with the tone of the film.
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 comes to Blu-ray from Kino Lorber with a wonderful 2:35:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. The film is cast in primary dark colors and Earth tones being set in a subway, and those are accurately represented here. Further, there is excellent detail throughout the presentation, solid blacks, and a nice organic grain structure that is not intrusive.
Kino Lorber presents the audio with a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track in English. The track is quite excellent with dialogue and score coming though loud and clear, and no issues to complain about.
Kino Lorber have put a excellent slate of extras together for their release of the Taking of Pelham 1 2 3. The set kicks off with a commentary track featuring Pat Healy (actor) and Jim Healy (film historian). We also get 3 on camera interviews one with editor Gerald Greenberg, another with composer David Shire, and the third with actor Hector Elizondo. There is a "Trailers from Hell" with Josh Olson as he discusses the film over the trailer, a stills gallery, and a theatrical trailer in HD.
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 is one of the finest suspense pictures of the 70's. The new Blu-ray release from Kino Lorber looks and sounds fantastic, and comes with a solid slate of extras. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.