The trailer for The Taking of Pelham One Two Three looked really cool way back in 1974: all barked dialogue, subways slamming down rails, and a distinct New York disdain, as I recall. It was so cool it motivated me to borrow a copy of the book it was based on from the public library. (I was too young to sneak into R-rated movies back then.) John Godey's novel was a rocking good read; it seemed like the smell of the subway emanated from its pages. Of course, that could have been from the previous reader, but the salient point is this: when I finally saw the film, I was more than impressed by the solid craftsmanship displayed by screenwriter Peter Stone and director Joseph Sargent. They effectively translated the insane idea at the heart of the story -- How do you hijack a subway train in the middle of New York City and expect to get away with it? -- and delivered a nail-biting mystery thriller.

Last month, Jessica Barnes told us of a report that Denzel Washington and Tony Scott would be reuniting for a remake of Pelham, with Washington stepping into the scuffed shoes of the jaded Transit Police lieutenant originally played memorably by Walter Matthau. Now Variety is reporting that John Travolta is in negotiations to play the leader of the gang that hijacks a subway train and threatens to kill the passengers unless a ransom is paid. In the original, that role was played by the menacing Robert Shaw.

Travolta was brutish and cool as the lead villain in John Woo's Broken Arrow, so he could do a good job with the part. The script for the remake was written by David Koepp, which is another mark in its favor. But will Tony Scott be able to capture the authentic flavors of New York that helped make the original so distinctive? And will he be smart enough to cast people who actually look and sound like New Yorkers? Here's hoping he can cast the modern-day equivalent of original cast members Dick O'Neill, Kenneth McMillan, James Broderick, Julius Harris and Jerry Stiller (all on the side of the law) and Martin Balsam, Hector Elizondo and Earl Hindman (the other members of the gang, all referred to by colors, which may sound familiar). Production starts early next year.
categories Movies, Cinematical