Armed men hijack a New York City subway train, holding the passengers hostage in return for a ransom, and turning an ordinary day's work for dispatcher Walter Garber into a face-off with the mastermind behind the crime.
Los Angeles private investigator Harry Moseby is hired by a client to find her runaway teenage daughter. Moseby tracks the daughter down, only to stumble upon something much more intriguing and sinister.
Four seemingly-unrelated men board subway train Pelham 1:23 at successive stations. Mr. Blue, Mr. Green, Mr. Grey and Mr. Brown are heavily armed and overpower the motorman and novice conductor to take control of the train. Between stations they separate the front car from the remainder of the train, setting passengers in the back cars and the motorman free. The four demand $1 million ransom within exactly one hour for the remaining eighteen hostages, including the conductor. If their demands are not met in time or their directions are not followed precisely, they will begin to shoot hostages dead, one every minute the money is late. Wisecracking Lt. Zach Garber of the transit police ends up being the primary communicator between the hijackers and the authorities, which includes transit operations, his own police force, the NYPD, and the unpopular and currently flu ridden mayor who will make the ultimate decision of whether to pay the ransom. Unknown to Garber, what may be working on ...Written by
The movie inspired two songs, Deadly Avenger's "We Took Pelham" and Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machines "The Taking of Peckham One Two Three". Moreover, the Beastie Boys' song "Sure Shot" features a lyric inspired by this film that says: "Well, it's the taking of Pelham, one, two, three / If you want a doodie rhyme then come see me". See more »
Although Mr. Blue specifically instructs the good guys, that the money must be delivered in bills of $50 and $100, the clerks in the Federal Reserve Bank are clearly seen to be frantically counting 5 dollar bills. (Think of it, counting and double banding 100,000 5 dollar bills would take ten times as long.) See more »
Although many of the scenes in this film were taken on transit property, the New York City Transit Authority is not responsible for plot, story and characters portrayed. The Authority did not render technical advice and assistance. See more »
With all the other plot summaries written here, I won't go into what this film is all about. I just want to say that I don't believe this genre has been done better, either before or since. I first saw "Pelham 1,2,3" when I was 14 at a drive-in theater in Northern CA. It holds a memorable place for me as the first R rated movie I ever saw, as well as the first time I ever heard the "F" word in a movie. But way beyond that, I was so completely sucked into the story even at my young age. Now all these years later, I still am. I own the movie and must see it periodically. I'm so glad, reading all the other user comments, to find that I'm just one of many who absolutely love this film. Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, and the rest of the cast are all brilliant. The comedy in the film is also outstanding and never out of place within the storyline. It simply serves to make the film more realistic. And last but not least, David Shire's score is the coolest. I only wish they had put a soundtrack out for this film. When I watch this movie, the music must be cranked.
Don't bother catching this film on TV. It's always completely hacked up. Rent it or buy the DVD. It will remind you just how much fun movies used to be.
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