Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger



David SHIRE The Taking of Pelham One Two   Original score conducted by the composer  RETROGRADE FSM-80123-2 [30:19]





The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) was a memorable, superior thriller in every way, with inspired casting and expertly paced direction by Joseph Sargent. Robert Shaw was master-villain Mr Blue, arguably his best role, supported by Walter Matthau as a laconic wise-cracking transit cop and Martin Balsom as the demoralised yet sensitive Mr Green. The plot revolves around the hijacking of a New York subway train and the holding to ransom of its passengers - "We are going to kill one passenger a minute until NewYork City pays us one million dollars."

For the film David Shire produced a brilliant innovative score which blended 20th Century twelve-tone music with early 1970s pop/jazz/funk music. The result was a composition that was not only very supportive of the screenplay but also approachable and interesting to the ear as music in its own right.

Shire envisioned a score that would be New York jazz-orientated and hard edged echoing the brash business of the City. For Pelham, he created a tone row in which the intervals give one the impression of progressive jazz sonorities. From this basic material he created a theme over a repeated bass line which would suggest organised chaos "rooting this chaos in an aggressive and very tonal bass ostinato, suggestive of the New York rhythmic drive that somehow holds the chaos together." Furthermore he cleverly orchestrated the music so that it could be heard over the clamour of the subway train. Although he used an ensemble based on a big band, he de-emphasised his middle range instruments and accentuated the high end (upper reeds, keyboards and trumpets and the low end (low bass and woodwinds, low strings and the rhythm section). He also added an ethnic percussionist and two drumset players to emphasise the cosmopolitan flavour of New York and the passengers of the train.

The score pounds along with great drama and intensity. An exciting ride and a thrilling musical experience.


Ian Lace


Ian Lace

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