So, it’s 1992 at the London Film Festival, the hottest ticket in town is for a film by a strangely named video geek called Quentin Tarantino, the film was Reservoir Dogs. Yes, I know that’s not Pelham but I’ll get to that in a minute. I had managed to secure four tickets in row four, smack in the middle. I refuse £100 for my ticket on the way in and settle down. I am with my missus, my good friend from Artificial Eye (then) Elaine Day and her pre Oscar winning boyfriend Martin Childs. The film is introduced with a stage appearance by Mr Tarantino and one Harvey Keitel. The audience is proper excited, but nowhere near as excited as Quentin. He machine guns his thanks and states that they will be back afterwards. Harvey smiles and waves his hand.
The curtain goes back, Tim Roth bleeds for 90 minutes, Mr Pink refuses to tip and some poor cop has his ear lopped off. The audience is suitably impressed by a first time film makers efforts and nearly everyone sits patiently for the Q and A. Quentin bounces on stage like Tigger after a Tony Montana session on the Columbian marching powder. Harvey saunters after him, smiling benignly.
The audience is interested and hands shoot up everywhere when asked to put their questions.
“What was it like working with Harvey Keitel?” Answer (at 100 words per second) “oh my God, well, he’s just a genius, I loved him in Mean Streets and Taxi Driver, he is the main man, I wanted so much for him to ……etc…etc…for five minutes.”
“Harvey, what was it like working with Quentin?”. Harvey slowly walks over to the mike, leans forward. “Cool.” That’s it.
Four more interspersed questions with Quentin going nuts and Harvey offering one word answers (much to the audiences delight) and I find myself with my hand up and the spotlight is turned on me as they hand me a microphone. “Quentin. In the Taking of Pelham 123, the bad guys use colours to code themselves, Mr Grey, Mr Blue, Mr Brown and Mr Green, did you use this as an inspiration for the film?” (Subtext, did you nick the idea from someone else?). Quentin, who had been almost at boiling point in his enthusiasm prior to this now completely exploded telling the audience what a great film it was, how brilliant Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, Hector Elizondo and Walter Matthau were, how the plot worked, what happened at the end, the whole nine yards. He must have gone on for five minutes and then stopped and just “but no, I didn’t use that as an inspiration, it’s just coincidence”).
Who cares. The Taking of Pelham 123 has so much to offer (before the stupid remake I might add, leave well enough alone you studio types with no new ideas) and seeing great actors bounce off each other is a joy to behold.

Lt Garber
Matthau, in the middle of his “serious” phase is brilliant as Lt Zach Garber. Robert Shaw is coldly calculating as the head baddie, Mr Blue. Hector Elizondo is slimy and nuts as Mr Grey (great line between Mssrs Blue and Green – Shaw and Balsam – where Mr Blue says, “I trust Mr. Brown, I do not trust Mr. Grey. I think he’s an enormous, arrogant pain in the ass who could turn out to be trouble. I also think that he is mad. Why do you think they threw him out of the Mafia? “.
Martin Balsam with a chip on his shoulder and a runny nose is spot on. A cracking film.

Mr Grey

Mr Blue