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"The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Heinonen

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Synopsis

At four different stops, four men dressed alike with hats, moustaches, and glasses board the Pelham 123 subway train.  Led by Mr. Blue, they take the train over, with Mr. Green handing the task of driving the cars.  Once they are clear of the station, they let 9 of the cars go and take the 17 people in the main car hostage.  Calling the control center, they demand $1 million dollars in 60 minutes; otherwise they will begin to kill passengers at the rate of 1 per minute until their demands are met.

As the mayor and his staff scramble to decide if they are going to pay the ransom or not, and how to get $1 million dollars to them in under an hour, the subway control center tries to figure out how they are going to attempt to make an escape from the tunnel even if they do get their money.

Specifications

  • MGM
  • 1974, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 44 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Codec: AVC @ 39 Mb/sec
  • 1080p
  • English Mono DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring: Walter Mathau, Robert Shaw
  • Directed by Joseph Sargent
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

My only knowledge of this film was that it was remade a few years ago with John Travolta and Denzel Washington in the starring roles.  I'm really not sure why they felt the need to remake it as the original was pretty good.  The tension and suspense build up quickly as the hour time limit lets the plot unfold in what seems to be real time.  The scenes with the mayor could probably be left out as he really doesn't bring much to the film, but I imagine he's a representation of the NYC mayor in the early 1970s.

With the exception of Mr. Brown, the four hijackers are well fleshed out as people, even though we find out very little about them as the movie goes on.  Walter Mathau does a very good job in his role as transit chief Lt. Garber, but Robert Shaw really does a wonderful job as the cold, calculating Mr. Blue.

Technical

From the first shot it's apparent that there is plenty of grain present in this transfer, but 30 seconds later I forgot it was there so it wasn't a distraction at all.  The quality of the image is completely dependent on the lighting in the scene, so it seems to be true to the source material.  In shots that are well lit, there is good detail and contrast, but in darker scenes it can degenerate into a murky, unclear image that has very little fine detail at all.  Of course, you can't expect a Blu-ray to find detail that isn't there on the original film, so overall the quality of the transfer is good.

The soundtrack uses the original mono elements with no updating, so there is no use of the LFE or surround channels, which is a shame as a film set on a subway could really make good use of them.  Dialogue was clear, and while a lack of dynamic range could be noticed a little bit, it was nothing glaring.  The one issue that did crop up was that a couple scenes had the audio out-of-sync with the image.  Since this only happened in select scenes is would seem to be the transfer and not my system setup, but it was distracting when that happened.

Extras

There is a trailer, but you can't even save a bookmark on this disc, so hopefully you want to watch it in a single sitting.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)(Blu-ray)