The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)

Director: Joseph Sargent

Writer: Peter Stone (Screenplay) John Godey (Novel)

Starring: Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, Hector Elizondo, Earl Hindman, James Broderick, Dick O’Neill

 

Plot: In New York, armed men hijack a subway car and demand a ransom for the passengers. Even if it’s paid, how could they get away?


Tagline – 1:23pm. Grand Central Station, New York. A packed commuter train is hijacked. A ransom is set – at one million dollars. The subway is a closed system. For the four hijackers, surely there is no way out. But they have a deadly plan.

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tense 70’s Thriller

 

Story: The Taking of Pelham One Two Three starts when four man codenamed Blue (Shaw), Green (Balsam), Grey (Elizondo) and Brown (Hindman) hijack a New York subway train, they have demands, one million dollars or they will kill the hostages, Police LT Zachary Garber (Matthau) is left in charge of trying to negotiate the freedom of the passengers.

As the race against time continues to prepare the money we see just how far the hijackers will go for their money and just what is their motives for picking the train system to hijack, which should leave them little chance of escape.

 

Thoughts on The Taking of Pelham One Two Three

 

Characters – Lt Garber is trying to show off the New York subway system to the Japanese investment group, only for his day to turn into chaos, as he must work to protect the passengers on the train from the office, figuring out how to stay ahead of the ring leader. Blue is the man running the operations on board the train, he knows what he wants, how to get it done though he doesn’t trust his whole team. Green is the most trusted man working under Blue, he will not ask questions and will get the job done. Grey is one of the hijackers that Blue isn’t keen on, the newest member of the team which only draws attention to him.

PerformancesWalter Matthau in the leading role is strong, he brings a role that is only considered an everyday person to life, needing to stay ahead of the hijackers. Robert Shaw as the lead hijacker is strong through the film taking control of the situation well. When it comes to the rest of the cast we get strong performance that don’t make the biggest impact from all involved.

StoryThe story follows a group of hijackers that take over a New York subway train wanting money in exchange for passengers and the transport police officers that is trying to stop them. This does play into the ideas of just how people were committing hijackers during the 70’s, it shows how the cities will pay to save the lives of their citizens, it shows us the panic that would come over a city, with the location making everything around watching over the train difficult. We get the usual idea behind the robbery with the team not a smoothly operating as they should be.

Action/CrimeThe action in the film is mostly how the tactical approach is used to prepare for the attempts to take down the hijackers. This does show how the criminals are acting and have put a plan together.

SettingsThe film mostly is set on the train and with the station that the police are watching over the events preparing for the problem to be solved.


Scene of the Movie –
The escape plan.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The hostages are slightly annoying.

Final ThoughtsThis is a classic action crime thriller that did get a remake, certain parts haven’t aged that well, while others make it feel more raw.

 

Overall: Classic Action Thriller.

Rating

 

 

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Chinatown (1974)

Director: Roman Polanski

Writer: Robert Towne (Screenplay)

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, Perry Lopez, John Hillerman, Darrel Zwerling, Diane Ladd

 

Plot: A private detective hired to expose an adulterer finds himself caught up in a web of deceit, corruption, and murder.


Tagline – The most highly acclaimed film of 1974!

Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic Mystery

 

Story: Chinatown starts when J.J. Gittes (Nicholson) gets hired by Evelyn Mulwray (Dunaway) to investigate her husband, it seems like a routine job, follow him around, until he ends up dead and Gittes must uncover what led to his death.

J.J. ends up learning about a bigger cover-up which involves the city’s water supply, the place where Hollis worked before his death, which sees him investigating Noah Cross (Huston) the former owner of the water department.

 

Thoughts on Chinatown

 

Characters – J.J. Gittes is a private investigator, he usually handles affairs and has a great track record. He is hired to learn whether Hollis Mulwray is having an affair, only to find himself digging into a bigger cover-up within the water supply after Hollis is found dead. Gittes is involved in every single scene of the film as we only learn the story from his point of view. Evelyn Mulwray is the one that hires Gittes to investigate her husband potential affairs, she soon learns the truth and wants Gittes to learn the truth about what happened to her husband. Noah Cross is the former partner of Hollis who between them owned the water, he seems interested in his own business. He is one of the prime suspects in what might have happened to Hollis. Escobar is the lead police detective that is trying to learn what happened, he doe shave a past with Gittes too.

PerformancesJack Nicholson in the leading role is wonderful as always, he is filled with the quick wit required and keeps us on edge as we work to follow the investigation unfold. Faye Dunaway shows us just how mysterious she can make her character. John Huston brings in the rich figure role well, while Perry Lopez shows us how we get the cop role done without any struggles.

StoryThe story follows a private investigator that start by looking into an affair only to find himself in the middle of a much bigger case which would bring him into a city-wide cover-up. When it comes to mystery stories we need to be kept guessing which is what this investigation does, we only get to see how everything unfolds through Gittes eyes which is helpful too because we learn the twists just as fast as he does. It does give us a story that does keep on taking twists along the way which like most detective stories too and shows us just how even a shady figure will do everything right to make sure the truth comes out.

MysteryThe mystery in this film comes from just who murdered Hollis, we get to see just how everything unfolds as we try to put the pieces together to learn the truth ourselves.

SettingsThe film is set in LA showing us just how the powers of the city will do anything to remain in control of the power.


Scene of the Movie –
Chinatown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The cops are all too similar.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the all time classic mystery movies, it shows how one person will do everything to learn the truth in the 1930’s LA where the corrupt rise to power with ease.

 

Overall: All time classic.

Rating

 

 

The Sugarland Express (1974)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Har Barwood, Matthew Robbins (Screenplay) Steven Spielberg, Hal Banwood, Matthew Robbins (Story)

Starring: Goldie Hawn, Ben Johnson, Michael Sacks, Williams Atherton, Gregory Walcott, Steve Kanaly, Louise Latham

 

Plot: A woman attempts to reunite her family by helping her husband escape prison and together kidnapping their son. But things don’t go as planned when they are forced to take a police hostage on the road.


Tagline – Every cop in the state was after her. Everybody else was behind her.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Smartly Drive Crime Thriller

 

Story: The Sugarland Express starts when Lou Jean (Hawn) breaks her husband Clovis (Atherton) out of early release prison, they want to travel to Sugarland to get their son back after losing custody. The plan seems simple until a police officer Slide (Sacks) pulls over their car leading to the couple taking him hostage.

It isn’t long before this turns into a state wide pursuit led by Captain Tanner (Johnson) that seems to have ever police car in the state leading to a chain of cars heading to Sugarland.

 

Thoughts on The Sugarland Express

 

Characters – Lou Jean has lost custody of her child, now she will break her husband out of prison to get him back, she is the desperate mother who even though she doesn’t have the complete resources for parenting she will give the child all the love in the world. Clovis is the husband that goes on the journey believing this will be the last resort, he will support her even if she doesn’t give him the complete story. Slide is the police officer that is taken hostage, he is helpless to follow instructions putting his fate in the hands of his Captain and captors. Captain Tanner is the man that must figure out how to bring an end to the events, he doesn’t want a shootout, he must control all the officers in search of a peaceful ending.

PerformancesGoldie Hawn in the leading role as the desperate mother doing anything she can to get her child back, we see how she plays the naïve nature of her behaviour for the characters age involved which helps us support her decision. William Atherton as the boyfriend is good in his role showing moments of confusion like his character would be going through. Michael Sacks as the hostage cop he keeps calm through all the scenes which is needed for his character. Ben Johnson as the captain is a good watch because we almost see him planning each move in his head.

StoryThe story here is based on a real event about a couple that take a highway patrol officer hostage as they plan to get their child back. We follow this story closes and how the police didn’t want to get involved in anything crazy as the couple are going about the situation in a peaceful manner. What we see in the story is just how far people would go to get their child back after and just how the story would take the country by storm, with the supporters coming from each town they travel through and for some reason the endless numbers of cops that will follow them. When we start looking at how this plays out, we would have a different outcome now, first it would have been a lot harder to break the husband out of prison and secondly you feel the police would be a lot more aggressive when we go across state borders. If you want a story that could easily be one that captures a nations attention this will be one.

CrimeThe crime side of the film shows us how the two petty criminals will go to extraordinary lengths to get their child back even if it means breaking the law in ways that will only get them in trouble for longer.

SettingsThe film takes us across the country in pursuit of a car which has taken a highway patrol officer hostage in an attempt to get their child, this is a questionable use of setting because we never really learn the scale of the distance travelled.


Scene of the Movie –
Going through the town with gifts.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not knowing how far they travel.

Final ThoughtsThis is an early look at just how talented Steven Spielberg was going to be, it is a crime film that keeps you on edge and one that make you have sympathy for the criminals.

 

Overall: Early masterclass from Spielberg.

Rating

 

 

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974)

Director: Michael Cimino

Writer: Michael Cinimo (Screenplay)

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Jeff Bridges, Geoffrey Lewis, Catherine Bach, Gary Busey, Jack Dodson

 

Plot: With the help of an irreverent young sidekick, a bank robber gets his old gang back together to organize a daring new heist.


Tagline – Thunderbolt… the man with the reputation. Lightfoot… the kid who’s about to make one!

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Comedy Heist Film

 

Story: Thunderbolt and Lightfoot starts as we meet car thief Lightfoot (Bridges) as he stumbles into wanted criminal Thunderbolt (Eastwood) who happens to be on the run from Red Leary (Kennedy) and Eddie (Lewis) from a previous job.

When the unlikely pairing decide to work together to collect the money from Thunderbolt’s big heist they become friends and start to plan their latest heist with the original crew getting back together.

 

Thoughts on Thunderbolt and Lightfoot

 

Characters – Thunderbolt is the seasoned criminal, that reluctantly takes Lightfoot on his latest heist, he knows how the plan ahead and get away with hiding in plain sight. Lightfoot is the rookie criminal that falls into the connection with Thunderbolt as he helps him escape trouble, he talks his way into the next heist even if his mouth can get him in trouble. Eddie and Red are former partners in crime of Thunderbolt out to get their share from their last job, they have the history with him and will trust him to help get the next job done.

PerformancesClint Eastwood was one of the biggest stars in the industry when this movie was made, he works in the lead role shining next to the younger talent. Jeff Bridges showed us here that he was going to be a huge star, he has great chemistry with Eastwood too.

StoryThe story follows two new partners working on a heist together, in fairness there isn’t too much more to look at here, it plays out like you would imagine and sends the characters o a road trip adventure at times too. It is easy to follow and doesn’t offer many twists which makes this one that could be enjoyed by all.

Comedy/CrimeThe comedy in the film does work well without being needed too often which shows that the crime is the focal point of the film as most heist films should do.

SettingsThe film takes our characters on a road trip adventure as they look to escape the bad heist and head towards the next heist.


Scene of the Movie –
The first meeting.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is too by the book.

Final ThoughtsEasy to watch and enjoyable heist movie with a great cast that gives us a road trip adventure.

 

Overall: Fun and enjoyable.

Rating

 

 

The Conversation (1974)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Writer: Francis Ford Coppola (Screenplay)

Starring: Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Allen Garfield, Frederic Forrest, Cindy Williams, Michael Higgins, Elizabeth MacRae, Harrison Ford

 

Plot: A paranoid, secretive surveillance expert has a crisis of conscience when he suspects that a couple he is spying on will be murdered.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strong Thriller

 

Story: The Conversation starts as surveillance expert Harry Caul (Hackman) and his team record their latest work surround a married couple, upon looking to receive his payment we learn about his paranoid mind set, living in secretive life with no phones, wanting his own lock for his apartment and his own secure mail box.

Once he collects his payment, Harry starts looking into the recordings, asking just what is so important about the conversation he has recorded. When his former employee Stan (Cazale) leaves him, Harry starts to believe he is being followed and it is his involvement in the last case causing this feeling, is he being followed or just losing his mind.

 

Thoughts on The Conversation

 

Characters/PerformanceHarry is an isolated man who works on the bugging world before it was a major factor, he is considered one of the best in the business but does have a paranoid side. He starts to question everything he has been doing putting his career on the line. The rest of the characters are people that work with, respect or are the people are being recorded, they all help with the outcome of the film.

Performance wise, Gene Hackman is brilliant in this leading role playing each part of the character exactly how you would expect him to be. We do have good performance from the supporting cast and always look out for young Harrison Ford.

StoryThe story has in places dated because technology has moved onto the next level and the idea of the surveillance idea has become a major problem in the world. We do get a mystery thriller that leads our leading man Harry into a moral dilemma into what is the right or wrong thing to do, this is the highlight of the film.

Mystery/ThrillerWe are left trying to piece together the mystery in this film about what is the importance of this conversation recorded and once Harry questions it all we are left wanting to know how it will unfold.

SettingsMost of the settings show us just how difficult it would be to trust your environment from becoming bugged and the consequences of being caught where you would know what it is like to be the victim.

Final ThoughtsThis is a thriller that has a brilliant pay off and twist even if it is slightly slow getting to that moment.

 

Overall: Good thriller that stands the suspense of time.

Rating