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The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)
Music by David Shire
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
Click to enlarge images.
Price: $16.95
Limited #: N/A
View CD Page at SAE Store
Line: Retrograde
CD Release: May 1996
Catalog #: Retrograde
# of Discs: 1

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is a superb urban thriller: four men, dressed alike in trenchcoats and calling each other Mr. Blue, Mr. Green, etc., take a subway car hostage and demand $1 million in ransom. Walter Matthau stars as the transit cop assigned to the case; Robert Shaw (Quint in Jaws) is the leader of the terrorists. It's a brilliant ’70s hostage movie with biting New York humor.

For the score, David Shire—then going through a brilliant stretch of work which included The Conversation, Farewell, My Lovely, The Hindenburg, and All the President's Men—came up with a stroke of genius. He wanted to do some kind of funk/jazz/big band, but wanted a way of making it dissonant and powerful—not too light, but not too random. So for his melodic materials he utilized the 12-tone method of composition, a technique devised by Arnold Schoenberg in the early 20th century in which you make a theme by using all 12 pitches in a specific order, and then create other themes by playing that "row" backwards, upside-down, backwards and upside-down, or transposed. Shire ended up with a monster two-note bass line with these 12-tone themes running on top.

For our CD, the first-ever release of this music, we have utilized the complete score, including around 15 minutes of music not included in the film. The 12-page booklet includes movie stills, composer photos, and track-by-track notes by Doug Adams.

Listen to the "Main Title" and decide for yourself—if you like funky '70s film music, like Enter the Dragon and the blaxploitation pictures, you'll love this.

David Shire Scores on FSM
About the Composer

David Shire (b. 1937) is responsible for some of the most acclaimed scores of the 1970s, such as The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, The Conversation and Farewell, My Lovely. His film and television work extends from the late 1960s to the present day (including 2007's Zodiac), consistently excellent in its subtlety, dramatic sensitivity and musical imagination. He has also, with lyricist partner Richard Maltby, enjoyed a successful career in musical theater. IMDB

Comments (25):Log in or register to post your own comments
I've never heard 12 tone serialism that is as accessible and fun as it is in this score. Great driving stuff beneath the tone rows holds it all together and really propels it along.

Some tracks sound as if a minor unresolved version of the Eee-O-11 theme met up with the Escape from the Planet of the Apes opening titles, especially track 5, "Money Montage. It's like a case of "You got Ocean's in my Escape!" "No, you got Escape in my Ocean's!" All kidding aside, there's some great listening throughout with a great driving main title and some standout tracks like numbers 5 & 6.

This is a singular score that really works well in support of an excellent film. If you're looking for a modern, progressive jazz-flavored, gritty, urban, funky New York sound, you'll find it here.

The score for the original film is just terrific... its 70s funk beat... the electric, action pace... it not only captures the urgency of the film, but the feel of New York. The original film is very much what I think of of when I visit NYC.

Not interested in the new version in the least.

HG Williams also had to take to John Scotts shadow with the MAN ON FIRE remake for Tony Scott.





I would go so far as to say it is my favourite film score in the thriller genre. I particularly love the " Money Montage " cue, which is utilised to great effect in the film. Anything I have ever heard composed by David Shire is pure genius.





Simply one of greatest Main Themes in Film history. Period.





Simply one of greatest Main Themes in Film history. Period.[/endquote]


I sometimes have to cut through a really, really bad part of town. Its basically all Projects and long abandoned brass factories lining the Connecticut coastline. To say its dangerous down there is a pretty big understatement.

However, I was rolling through that area one day and happened to have the theme from Pelham playing. When I rolled up to a red light, several... urban youths stopped on a street corner stopped their conversation and started calling out, asking me where the rhymes were to go with that awesome music and beat.

LOL, LeHah, there's no such thing as a bad neighborhood in Connecticut!

LOL, LeHah, there's no such thing as a bad neighborhood in Connecticut![/endquote]

We ... actually have the largest split of quality of life in the smallest are in the entire United States.

Fairfield, CT -

Bridgeport, CT -

(Oh, wait, you were kidding around, my bad.)

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Track List
Click on each musician name for more credits

Leader (Conductor):
David L. Shire

Marie Fera, Lucille Greco (D'Addio), Edgar Lustgarten, Frederick R. Seykora, Eleanor Slatkin, Gloria Strassner

Charles L. Domanico, Milton Kestenbaum, Joseph Mondragon, Meyer (Mike) Rubin

Peter Christlieb, Ronald Langinger (aka Ronny Lang), John Lowe, Donald Menza, John Neufeld

French Horn:
Vincent N. DeRosa, David A. Duke, Arthur Maebe, Jr., Richard E. Perissi, Gale H. Robinson

Charles B. Findley, Malcolm Boyd McNab, Edward Allen Sheftel, Anthony "Tony" Terran

Richard "Dick" Nash, George M. Roberts, Lloyd E. Ulyate

John T. "Tommy" Johnson

Artie Kane, Clark Spangler

David H. Cohen

Larry Bunker, Milton Holland, Sheldon "Shelly" Manne, Emil Radocchia (Richards)

Nathan Kaproff

Robert Bornstein, Alf H. Clausen, Glen N. Clement, Joseph Estren, Ralph Fera, Leonard Gordon, Donald J. Midgley

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