Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Losing of Pelham 123

By Lars Trodson

Harry Knowles is right. The original "The Taking of Pelham 123" is one of the great, gritty 1970s New York cop movies. And the remake that will come out this summer isn't going to even come close. You just know it. It'll be louder, it'll be flashier, it may even be exciting. But it won't have the buildup, or the tension, or the wit of the first one.

The original was released in 1973, and starred Walter Matthau, who was at the beginning of a great stretch of character and starring roles -- a string of successes almost unmatched for an actor who was past leading man status. Matthau really was at the top of his game throughout the 1970s, and "Pelham" is right up there as one of his indelible screen characterizations. Casting Matthau was pure genius.

The 1973 "Pelham" was directed by Joseph Sargent, and was shot by Own Roizman, who also photographed "The French Connection" a couple of years before. It has that grainy, rainy, celluloid look that has completely vanished from movies.

At Ain't It Cool News they linked the trailer of the new version along with a YouTube clip of the original's titles. The short opening of the Matthau version, with its jazzed, hopped up score, is enough to tell you that the original was made by men, and the new one by boys who want to show off their shiny new toys.

Here you go: