The 70's were a fertile period for thrillers..."French Connection", "Dirty Harry", "Charley Varrick", etc. In my opinion "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" is the best of the lot. It thrills like no other movie of the period, everything gels, the script, the direction the music (oh the music, hats off to David Shire for scoring the the best ever twelve tone funk score), the editing, the locale, the cast. And what a locale...this must be the best New York-based film ever; I suspect New Yorkers look at this and go..yeah that's us alright. The characters and the script are a joy...the film is densely populated but even the most minor of characters are graced with eminently quotable lines, and the casting..Walter Matthau rounds off his run of "straight" roles in the early 70's with a fabulous turn here, all sarcastic wit and scathing come-backs..Robert Shaw turns in highly believable perfomance as a mercenary turned hijacker in what must be the prototype of the Brit-as-bad-guy cycle that everyone thinks started with Die Hard...and Jerry Stiller (Ben's Dad) has a good time as Patrone the world-weary and sarcastic transit cop. But the list is endless, the mayor, his aide, the chief of police, the hostages, everyone is outstanding. The script, by Peter Stone is a masterclass in entertaining exposition. It is also frequently laugh-out-loud funny...the humour deriving not from the wish to turn the film into a comedy, but rather the fact that Stone has given these guys a rich sense of humour that naturally develops as the frenetic events unfold. In fact, the juxtaposition of the humour and hard-edged thrills is what makes this film work over and over again...you laugh at a genuinely funny line and then are thrust into (for instance) a frantic, heart-pounding, cross-city race against time and you're in a such great mood because of the wit of the scipt just beforehand, that the action is heightend and your involverment is likewise increased; and that good-vibe/hard action momentum just snowballs all through the movie. In all, this is an essential purchase for anyone who enjoys pared down, superbly scripted thrills. A five-star classic.