Sneaking My Wine into the Movie Theater
Hey folks! I need to jazz up things around here a little. And since wine isn’t the only area in life I have strong opinions about (Yes, I see your shocked face), I’m going to post some movies you should be watching and what wine to drink along with them.
First up: The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974), directed by Joseph Sargent!
This is probably the best movie set in gritty 1970s New York City. A team of well-armed mercenaries led by the crisply professional “Mr. Blue” (Robert Shaw, also of From Russia With Love, the spy who tips off Sean Connery to his lack of breeding by ordering red wine with fish), hijacks the downtown 6 subway train. They get on the radio to the transit police and announce they’ll start killing hostages until they get $1 million ransom. To be fair, that’s almost $5.7 million adjusted for inflation. That’ll buy you a couple bottles of chardonnay.
Walter Matthau plays Zack Garber, the unlucky guy on the other side of the radio from the hijackers. Along with his wisecracking colleague Rico (Jerry Stiller, Ben’s dad), Garber tries to keep Mr. Blue happy, deal with engineers screaming about the subway system ground to a halt, round up a million bucks (“do you know how many times you gotta wet your finger to count that?”), and figure out how the hell do they plan to escape once they get it.
“I got it,” Rico says helpfully. “They're going to fly the train to Cuba.”
The script. adapted from born-and-bred New Yorker John Godey’s novel, moves at the speed of a runaway train. And while it’s violent, every character is witty and ready at all times with the quips.
Lt. Garber: Hey Pelham; it might interest you to know I figured out how you're gonna do it.
Mr. Blue: [Mr. Blue, sitting in the motorman's car, picks up the mic] Yes, it would interest me vey much .
Lt. Garber: You're gonna make every man, woman, and child in New York City close their eyes and count to a hundred, right?
Any movie where Walter Matthau isn’t only one of the funniest people on screen is worth your time.
What shall we drink with this? Well, 1974 was two years before the Judgment of Paris that put the American wine industry on the map, so the Finger Lakes weren’t quite what they are today.
To go with the film’s dark low-rent feel, let’s go with chianti. Preferably in one of those little old-fashioned straw bottles, the kind you’d get in Italian restaurants with the red checked tablecloths.
In the U.S., you can buy or rent it from all the major services, or stream it for free with ads via Tubi and Pluto. (The less said about the 2009 remake with John Travolta??? and Denzel Washington, the better.) Let me know how you like the movie, how you like the wine, and how you like the two together!