Music hits the gas from The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three

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Image of the article titled Music hits the accelerator in one of New York's great thrillers

Screenshot: taking pelham one two three

Check it out offers movie recommendations inspired by new releases, premieres, current events or sometimes just our own impenetrable whims. This week: With the release of Gia Coppola’s new film, Main stream, we highlight other work of the extended Coppola family.


taking pelham one two three (1974)

Before the first image appears, the music begins: martial drums under a catchy bassline punctuated by low, choppy brass. taking pelham one two threeThe opening credits sequence couldn’t be more basic – just white letters on a black screen (although the names are in a stencil-based font that registers as grainy) – but, so, it doesn’t. there is no need for visual panache yet. This score does all the necessary work. David Shire had just taken his first steps as a composer with The conversation, led by his brother-in-law (he was married to Talia at the time), when he was tasked with setting an urgent and exciting tone for what would prove to be the quintessential ’70s NYC thriller. He didn’t dodge: au as the rhythm section hammers and advances, additional horns arrive, higher and more insistent; they grow almost but not quite out of alignment, as if threatening to become a complete bebop. Only the deaf or the dead could not feel their pulse rise. It’s almost impossible to watch Pelham‘s first 90 seconds and not thinking, “Oh, man, it’s gonna be impressive.

Fortunately, the film keeps its promises. Adapted from a bestseller by John Godey (pen name of Morton Freedgood), it depicts, almost in real time, the hijacking of a New York subway train by four identically disguised and heavily armed men ( Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, Hector Elizondo and Earl Hindman) who refer to each other using color-based code names: Mr. Blue, Mr. Green, etc. (somewhere in Los Angeles, almost 20 years later, a video store employee named Quentin was to take notesAs the transit cop in charge of hostage negotiations, Walter Matthau tone down his patent sardonicism in favor of extremely attractive crumpled professionalism – a bold move, given that he is constantly in danger of being eclipsed. by his blinding yellow tie. The hijackers demand [Dr. Evil voice] a million dollars in cash, with Shaw’s pragmatic leader warning that he will kill a hostage for every minute of late payment. As the reckless Mayor of Gotham (Lee Wallace) finally agrees to pay, the real question is how the hijackers plan to escape with the loot, given that they are trapped in an underground tunnel.

To his credit, director Joseph Sargent makes good use of Shire’s score, allowing most of the film to unfold in silence – or, rather, in the standard New York cacophony of profane chatter and accidental street noises. Music only reappears when needed, accompanying a montage of city workers frantically counting $ 50 and $ 100 bills as they try to meet the hijacker’s insane deadline (an hour, not an hour). minute longer), reaching peak atonality when the wagon, still full of hostages, driverless speeds towards an apparent high impact. Yet even when he’s away, the muscular promise of this opening theme resonates. (Pity of poor Harry Gregson-Williams, who marked the terrible 2009 remake and struggled to find a late equivalent, settling on the Trent Reznor / Atticus Ross shed.) Anyone who has seen the original Pelham will never forget his surprisingly hilarious ending, with Matthau sporting a facial expression that only he can possibly produce. Shire’s choppy horns reappear in the image as it slowly fades into black, and what had previously sounded intense suddenly comes across as a biting joke. It’s versatility.

Availablity: taking pelham one two three is available for digital rental or purchase from Amazon, google play, Apple, Youtube, Redbox, AMC on demand, and VUDU.


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