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6 Degrees Entertainment

'The Taking of Pelham 123' [Blu-ray]
(Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, Walter Matthau, Hector Elizondo, Earl Hindman, et al / Blu ray / R / (1974) 2011 / MGM)

Overview: A gruffly sardonic Walter Matthau heads a fine cast that includes Jerry Stiller, Hector Elizondo, Martin Balsam, and a perfectly villainous pre-Jaws Robert Shaw. Think you'll find a better film that depicts a nearly broke city led by an inept mayor forced to deal with armed terrorists? Fuhgeddaboutit!

Blu ray Verdict: This 1974 film is a classic in every sense of the word. Not only does it bring to the screen a plot that kept me guessing the whole time how it would all turn out, but the actors interpret their roles in such a way that they seemed like people I know. The scene is in a New York subway train which is being hijacked by a gang. How this is all done is complicated but it somehow seems possible.

Walter Matthau stars as the cop who is charged with catching the criminals who are demanding one million dollars in cash and threatening to murder the 18 hostages who they are holding captive. Martin Balsam is one of the criminals, a timid sort though, whose nervousness is apparent. The leader of the bad guys is Robert Shaw, who speaks with a British accent and who is cool and seemingly always calm.

The hostages all seem real too - a cross section of the New York City landscape in 1974. And, as a former New Yorker myself, I could relate to them and the horror they were experiencing. And as far as the casting of the police officers, there was often a bit of humor because of the way they expressed themselves with typical working class accents. This is the New York of 1974 and I recognized it all. This was years before cell phones and communication seemed old fashioned. The tension, however, was apparent throughout and the fast-paced script kept me awake and alert.

I loved this film. They just don't make films like this anymore. I mean, since this is a '70s crime thriller, some unbelievably cheesy 70's music will be found throughout - and it's perfectly fine! This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.