The Taking of Pelham 123 / quad / UK


The Taking of Pelham 123
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (alternative title) | Il colpo della metropolitana - un ostaggio al minuto [The underground hit - one hostage a minute] (Italy)
Year of Film
Joseph Sargent
Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, Jerry Stiller, Hector Elizondo, Dick O'Neill, Earl Hindman
Origin of Film
Genre(s) of Film
Crime | Drama | Thriller
Type of Poster
Style of Poster
Origin of Poster
Year of Poster
Size (inches)
29 14/16" x 39 14/16"
SS or DS
Before this train reaches the next station it will become the scene of the most spectacular hijack ever attempted

A really striking design on this British quad for the release of the original New York subway-based action thriller, The Taking of Pelham 123. Directed by Joseph Sargent, whose career seems to have consisted mostly of TV movies, the film stars the late Robert Shaw as the psychotic leader of a gang of criminals who board and hijack a subway train. The gang demand a ransom of $1million and threaten to execute a passenger for every minute over the deadline.

Walter Matthau plays a world-weary New York City Transit Authority police lieutenant who ends up being the chief negotiator between the gang, working to try and foil their plans. Famously the gang have colour-based nicknames, which they use instead of their real names (Robert Shaw is blue, for example). Director Quentin Tarantino would later use this idea for his film debut Reservoir Dogs. This film was remade by the late Tony Scott in 2009

This design is unique to the British quad and brilliantly uses the colourful lines of the real New York subway map designed by Massimo Vignelli as the background to the sweeping train made from the title of the film. The front element of the shadowy figure standing in the door is actually taken from the American advance one sheet, which can be seen here. I’m unsure who is responsible for the design of the quad so if you have any ideas please get in touch.

I had been hunting for a rolled copy of this quad for over a decade after seeing it in the book ‘Film Posters of the 1970s’ and I was thrilled to finally track down a copy as I consider it to be one of the best British posters ever printed.

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  1. Author
    Posted by pelham123
    Date Posted
    on 10 April 2013

    I have a reprint framed back at my parents house, one of my favourites. Would love to know the designer too.