One of the seventies best thrillers, 1974's THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE details the bold hijacking of an NYC Subway car for a million dollar ransom.
Robert Shaw (Jaws) leads a group that enters a subway train, methodically detatches the locomotive and hides underground with 17 helpless commuters.
Martin Balsam is a former subway engineer turned terrorist, Hector Elizondo is the loose cannon of the group and Walter Matthau stars as the head of the Subway police negotiating with Shaw.
The tension is strong right from the start and there are some great comedic moments woven perfectly throughout.
The hostages range from annoying to passed out drunk to stealthy (just like every NYC Subway car!) and the good guys span from heroic to pathetic.
The music score by David Shire is excellent, reminiscent of "The French Connection" and the direction by TV veteran Joseph Sargent is probably his best movie work.
Matthau is at his deadpan terrific best and Shaw brings real menace to his role. Avoid the rotten 2009 remake with Denzel Washington and John Travolta. It's a pale imitation of this gritty thriller. The bold original gets a suspenseful A.