The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is a good action caper about a subway car heist under the streets of Manhattan. Walter Matthau heads the cast as a Transit Authority detective matching wits with the hijackers headed by Robert Shaw. Joseph Sargent’s direction is fast but the major liability is Peter Stone’s screenplay [from novel by John Godey] which develops little interest in either Matthau or Shaw’s gang, nor the innocent hostages.
Shaw, Martin Balsam, Hector Elizondo and Earl Hindman seize a subway car, named for the starting station on the line and its time of departure, and demand $1 million. Matthau is on duty at subway communications h.q. and deals with Shaw over voice radio all the while fending off the Archie Bunker types with whom he works.
A sidebar characterization is that of Lee Wallace as the mayor, a travesty of a role played for silly laughs.
Shaw is superb in another versatile characterization.