The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) Poster

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three

Four armed men hijack a New York City subway car and demand a ransom for the passengers. The city’s police are faced with a conundrum: Even if it’s paid, how could they get away?


The first and most important thing that must be said of THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE is that it has one of the most badass theme songs ever, and without even leaning on the crutch of wah wah guitar. A deep ominous BA-DUMP-BUMP-BUMP alternates with tension building horns and violins or something in a higher pitch… well, I’m dancing about architecture here but trust me, this theme song WILL kick your ass. The score is by David Shire, who strangely has done mostly TV movies but recently did ZODIAC. But it has that catchiness and strutting quality of the best Lalo Schifrin, like ENTER THE DRAGON or something, where after you see the movie you can’t help but walking around picturing it as your theme music.

(By the way, if you watch the original theatrical cut of PAYBACK you can tell that the badass music during the opening montage is inspired by this. They did a good job, but not as good.)

And the movie does a pretty good job of living up to the theme song. It’s directed by Joseph Sargent who is also mainly a TV guy, but the feel is cinematic. Watching it now I realize this must’ve been a huge influence on many of the DIE HARD type movies and especially DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE. It doesn’t have the one guy in over his head and physically fighting the bad guys, but the criminal plot, setting, characters, sense of humor and tone are all very DIE HARD. (read the rest of this shit…)

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