The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (also known as The Taking of Pelham 123) is a 1974 film directed by Joseph Sargent. It was produced by Edgar J. Scherick and the screenplay was written by Peter Stone. The screenplay is an adaptation of the 1973 novel The Taking of Pelham One Two Three by by Morton Freedgood under the pen name John Godey. It stars Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam and Hector Elizondo.

It features one of the best and most inventive thriller scores of the 1970s and was nominated in 1976 for Best Film Music at the BAFTAS. Also at the BAFTAs, Martin Balsam was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Harold Longman a.k.a. Mr. Green.

The film received critical acclaim with several critics calling it one of 1974’s finest films. It was also a box office success achieving $18.7m in overall takings based on an estimated $5m budget.

In 1998, the film was remade as a television film with the same title, with Edward James Olmos in the Matthau role and Vincent D’Onofrio replacing Shaw as the senior hijacker. Although not particularly well received by critics or viewers, this version was reportedly more faithful to the book, though it revised the setting with new technologies. Another remake set in a post 9/11 New York City directed by Tony Scott and starring Denzel Washington and John Travolta, was released in 2009 to mixed reviews.


As in the novel, the film centres on 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.

They 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 their side is the disparate nature of the four hijackers, including methodical and unbending Blue, trigger happy Grey, and also under the weather Green, who may pass out before the caper has concluded.

What Garber does know is that there is a plain clothes NYPD officer among the eighteen hostages. What Garber has to try and figure out is how the four hijackers can possibly get away, as they are in a tunnel and have to remain with the train since it has a dead-man mechanism which requires a motorman at the controls at all times.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three 1974 US One Sheet


The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
Year of Film
Joseph Sargent
Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, Jerry Stiller, Hector Elizondo, Dick O’Neill, Earl Hindman
Origin of Film
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Crime | Thriller
Box Office
Budget: Unknown
Opening Weekend: Unknown 
Gross: Unknown


Type of Poster
One Sheet
Style of Poster
Origin of Poster
Year of Poster
Mort Kunstler
Size (Inches)
41″ x 27″
NSS # / Printer Markings
“We are going to kill one passenger a minute until New York City pays us 1 million dollars.”

Poster Collector

Simon, is a movie poster warrior who collects far too much. He also writes posts, articles, and guides for The Poster Collector. He also fancies himself a bit of a sports star in his hometown and spends too much time researching and finding new movie posters to acquire. If he’s not typing away at his keyboard or searching auctions, you can probably find him watching James Bond or Star Wars (or both).

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