Seeing Cinema in a New Light: Criticism, Essays and Observations about Classic Cinema

1970s Movies, Crime Drama, Iconic Scenes, Video Clips

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) Might Have the Best Movie Ending of All Time

I have a soft spot for The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. It’s not just because of the kick ass soundtrack, the great performances or the fact that it takes place in my hometown, NYC. It’s because, in my opinion, it has the best movie ending of all time, even better than Soylent Green or Planet of the Apes.

Besides Walter Matthau’s face being a sight to behold and delivering a helluva twist, the ending’s use of the reaction shot couldn’t be more creative. Usually, this type of shot is used to convey a character’s immediate reaction to something that has just happened onscreen and not much else. In The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, it actually gives us vital story information. The movie doesn’t say explicitly what happens to Martin Balsam’s character in the end, but that five second reaction shot tells us all we need to know: he’s *bleeped.*

Below is the famous ending. Warning: do not watch this clip until you’ve seen the film. It’s that good.

1 Comment

  1. 10 seconds that suddenly resolves the entire movie, provides a great shot of the lead actor and makes one of the best jokes in movie history. Yep, this really is the greatest ending ever.

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