Taxi Drivers! Subway Hijackers! Seven Ups! Gritty 70’s New York!

Toredano the Garage Man: “Look at my hands.” (He shows puffy, gnarled fingers to the Cops) “I’ve been here before, so do what you gotta do. I didn’t talk then, and I won’t talk now.”

Welcome To Times Square – mid-70’s edition!

42nd street

Before it was cleaned up, Times Square had a well-deserved reputation as a tough tough place, full of grindhouse movie theaters that showed the sleaziest, dirtiest movies in the world…You know, the stuff I’ve posted about!

Along with the grindhouses, there were a lot of other places to get distracted, from seedy bars to peep shows, like the legendary Peep Land:

EVERYTHING was dirty in those days: these were theaters catering to the basest instincts of men, grinding them out 24 hours a day…it was not for the faint of heart…

Gritty Police Action!

There were a number of great films from this era that really captured the look and feel of the times – here are three of them – two moderately known and once classic!


You want a muscular crime thriller? Start with Roy Scheider and “The Seven Ups”, a terrific action film with one of the best car chases in New York City history!

Here is the plot of “The Seven Ups”: New York City cops wage a war against assorted hoods and criminals after one of their own is brutally killed by a hoodlum. “Seven-Ups” refers to the minimum jail time each of the crooks will have to spend if they are caught.

They, of course, do NOT want to get caught, which is why you have one of the great “streets of New York” car chases ever!

Produced and directed by Philip D’Antoni, who had previously produced both The French Connection as well as Bullitt, The Seven-Ups featured a story by NYPD detective Sonny Grosso, whom star Roy Scheider had played in The French Connection.

Check Out “The Seven Ups” Trailer!


The car chase in “The Seven Ups” so so good that the entire ten-minute sequence can be found on YouTube, but don’t cheat – this is a great police drama all the way through…

The film’s crew included Bill Hickman, who had orchestrated the car chases of both earlier films as stunt coordinator, as well as music by Don Ellis, whose French Connection soundtrack won a Grammy.

Finally, both Scheider and co-star Tony Lo Bianco returned in similar roles to their French Connection originals, playing respectively a rogue cop and scheming low-level mobster.

Tony Lo Bianco was a great character Actor, always the tough guy. He brings an edge to everything he does…

Terrific character Actor Joe Spinell is here as well, doing what he does best: another tough guy. This is, in fact, a movie FULL of tough guys, like when Spinell gets interrogated by the cops.

Toredano the Garage Man: “Look at my hands.” (He shows puffy, gnarled fingers to the Cops) “I’ve been here before, so do what you gotta do. I didn’t talk then, and I won’t talk now.”

The image above is the end of an amazing car chase that goes down the entire west side of Manhattan. Take that great action and add “tough as nails” Actors delivering gritty dialogue like this:

Buddy Manucci: [gazing out the window at the racketeers the funeral parlor] A funeral really brings them out.
Barilli – Seven-Up: Respect for the dead is considered very important. You know that.
Buddy Manucci: [bitterly] Should show as much for the living.

All throughout this film you can smell the mean streets of New York. Our next film takes you to the dirty NYC underground…

Forget the remake – this is the original subway hijacking film that captures the seedy side of NYC in the 70’s…


Take some of the greatest character Actors of the 70’s, add some dynamite action sequences…blend with sharp dialogue and a delicious sense of humor and you have one of the great action films of the 70’s, filmed underground in the dirty, desperate subway tunnels of New York.

Check out the trailer:

Here is the plot summary of “The Taking Of Pelham 1-2-3, courtesy of IMDB: Four armed men hijack a New York City subway train and demand 1 million dollars – which must be delivered in 1 hour – for the train and the lives of the passengers held hostage.

Legendary Actor Walter Matthau plays Lt. Rico Patrone, who oversees the crime unit for the NY Subway. He is willing to admit that their job isn’t that exciting:

Lt. Rico Patrone: “We had a bomb scare in the Bronx yesterday, but it turned out to be a cantaloupe.”

Robert Shaw plays the leader of the hijackers, Mr. Blue. Shaw starred in a number of classic 70’s films, such as “The Sting” and “Jaws”, and he was the nearly-unstoppable killer in “From Russia With Love.” His fight sequence inside a train compartment against James Bond 007’s Sean Connery is a classic as well.

Martin Balsam and Hector Elizondo are part of the hijacking team. Balsam brings the “every man” feel to the movie, a regular guy looking to get what he thinks he’s due. Hector Elizondo is terrific as Mr. Gray…that’s right, this is the movie where all of the hijackers called each other by colors…something Quentin Tarantino used effectively in “Reservoir Dogs”.

Mr. Blue: “I once had a man shot for talking to me like that.”
Mr. Gray: “Yeah, well, that’s the difference between you and me. I’ve always done my own killing.”

What makes this movie so terrific is that the hijackers don’t necessarily get along – they are all just there to get the job done, and that friction plays out as the hijacking drags on.

Mr. Blue: Will you go back and mind the passengers, please? I do not want Mr. Brown and Mr. Grey left alone with them.
Mr. Green: Don’t you trust them?
Mr. Blue: 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?
Mr. Green: Oh, terrific.

Jerry Stiller has a small role as a train supervisor – in fact the movie is full of great actors in small roles, such as Tony Roberts, who plays Deputy Mayor Warren LaSalle.

In one of the more humorous sequences, the Deputy Mayor takes no guff from a very weak Mayor of New York as they discuss whether to pay the $1-million dollar ransom:

Deputy Mayor Warren LaSalle: All right, Al. You’ve heard from the Three Wise Men. Now what do you say?
Mayor: What are THEY going to say, Warren?
Deputy Mayor Warren LaSalle: “They” who?
Mayor: Who? Everybody – the press, the man on the street.
Mayor’s wife: He means the voters.
Deputy Mayor Warren LaSalle: You know what they’re going to say. The Times is going to support you. The News is going to knock you. The Post will take both sides at the same time. The rich will support you, likewise the blacks, and the Puerto Ricans won’t give a shit. So come on, Al, quit stalling!
Mayor: Will you stop bullying everybody, Warren? This is supposed to be a democracy!
Deputy Mayor Warren LaSalle: Wise up, for chrissake, we’re trying to run a city, not a goddamn democracy! Al, quit farting around – we’ve got to pay!

There is also lots of great dialogue between Matthau and Shaw, such as when they argue about the fast-approaching deadline:

Mr. Blue: It is 2:24, Lieutenant, you’ve got forty-nine minutes.
Lt. Garber: Be reasonable, will you? We’re trying to cooperate with you but we can’t do anything if you don’t give us enough time to work with.
Mr. Blue: Forty-nine minutes.
Lt. Garber: We’re dealing with City Hall, for God’s sake, you know what a mess of red tape that is?
Mr. Blue: Forty-nine minutes.
Lt. Garber: Look, fella, we know how to tell time as well as you do, but we’re not gonna get anywhere if all you do is repeat forty-nine minutes!
Mr. Blue: Forty-*eight* minutes.
Lt. Garber: Yeah, all right, we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.
[after shutting off the mic]
Lt. Garber: Son of a bitch.

“The Taking Of Pelham 1-2-3” is full of great acting, action, and shows you the mean streets of New York in the 70’s…that said, there is one masterpiece that captures the hate, rage, anger and madness of New York City in the 1970’s…


Simply put, a masterpiece – and more timely today than ever.

Robert DeNiro is Travis Bickle, an ex-Marine and Vietnam War veteran living in New York City. As he suffers from insomnia, he spends his time working as a taxi driver at night, watching porn movies at seedy cinemas during the day…

Traversing the streets of New York, he see how the city has deteriorated into a cesspool. Paul Shrader’s brilliant screenplay captures his hatred for what he sees…

Travis Bickle: All the animals come out at night – whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, sick, venal. Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets. I go all over. I take people to the Bronx, Brooklyn, I take ’em to Harlem. I don’t care. Don’t make no difference to me. It does to some. Some won’t even take spooks. Don’t make no difference to me.

Then one day he sees Betsy, a worker on the presidential nomination campaign of Senator Charles Palatine. He becomes obsessed with her. Albert Brooks has a small role as Betsy’s co-worker…

Jodie Foster also stars as Iris, a twelve-year-old runaway and prostitute.

All of these characters come together as Travis descends into madness – here is the original theatrical trailer:

Without a doubt, the recent tragic shootings in our country call to mind the thoughts that Bickle shares in the film…

Travis Bickle: Loneliness has followed me my whole life, everywhere. In bars, in cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere. There’s no escape. I’m God’s lonely man.

Robert De Niro worked twelve hour days for a month driving cabs as preparation for this role. He also studied mental illness.

Travis Bickle: “Listen, you fuckers, you screwheads. Here is a man who would not take it anymore. A man who stood up against the scum, the cunts, the dogs, the filth, the shit. Here is a man who stood up. “

The scene where Travis Bickle is talking to himself in the mirror was completely ad-libbed by Robert De Niro. The screenplay details just said, “Travis looks in the mirror.” Martin Scorsese claims that he got the inspiration for the scene from Marlon Brando mouthing words in front of a mirror in Reflections in a Golden Eye.

Travis Bickle: [Travis is trying his guns on the mirror] Huh? Huh?
Travis Bickle: Faster than you, fucking son of a… Saw you coming you fucking… shitheel.
Travis Bickle: I’m standing here; you make the move. You make the move. It’s your move…
Travis Bickle: Don’t try it you fuck.
Travis Bickle: You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you talking… you talking to me? Well I’m the only one here. Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to? Oh yeah? OK.

The line “You talking to me?” was voted as the #10 movie quote by the American Film Institute, and as as the #8 of “The 100 Greatest Movie Lines” by Premiere in 2007.

This film is absolutely saturated with the streets of New York – as it existed in the seedy seventies!

Categories: 70's Films, Books / Media, Classic Action Films, Cult Classics, Extreme Cinema, Grindhouse, JRsploitation, Talent / Celebrites, Uncategorized

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