Friday, July 3, 2020

The Great Train Hijacking

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
Director: Joseph Sargent
Cast: Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Hector Elizondo, Jerry Stiller, Martin Baslam
Released: November 14, 1974

The Taking of Pelham 123
Director: Tony Scott
Cast: Denzel Washington, John Travolta, James Gandolfini, Luiz Guzman, John Turturro
Released: June 12, 2009

This is one of those instances where I not only saw the remake before the original, but I did not even know that the 2009 film was even based on another movie (which is based on a book). While both movies have their flaws, I think the original is the superior film. I thought it was going to be slow and boring (and yes, it is a bit slower than the remake), but I can see people in the '70s having a lot of fun watching this movie. Plus, the fashion is outrageously hideous. The whole color palette of this movie is brown, red, and orange. Seriously, why did the '70s love those colors?

The plot of the movies is simple: a subway car train is hijacked and the perpetrators won't release the hostages until their ransom is paid by the transit police. The train is called Pelham 123 because it comes out of Pelham Bay at 1:23 pm.

Let's meet our main players: leading the heist in the '74 movie is an Englishman who calls himself "Mr. Blue" (Robert Shaw). He is joined by three other men who also have colors as code names. There's Mr. Green (Martin Balsam), Mr. Brown (Earl probably know him best as Wilson from Home Improvement), and Mr. Grey (a young Hector Elizondo). I'm guessing this movie inspired Quentin Tarantino when he made Reservoir Dogs! All the men are disguised in trench coats, fake mustaches, hats, and glasses. Mr. Green, who appears to be the oldest of the four men by at least a decade, is sneezing and sniffling right off the bat (and being really disgusting about it...he sneezes right into his hand; doesn't he know he's supposed to sneeze into his elbow?) and I'm thinking that this is going to be an essential part of the movie. I'll give you a little hint: it is. While Mr. Blue is calculating and cold and is able to remain calm under pressure, his successor is...not. In the remake, the perpetrator who hijacks the train is a man who calls himself Ryder (John Travolta) Very clever movie! Ryder is the complete opposite of Mr. Blue. First of all, he's wearing a black leather jacket with a ski hat and has a handle bar mustache and a neck tattoo, so their images are totally different too. There's a lot of screaming and cursing and threats and instability coming from him. He plays this very similar to the way when he turns into Nicolas Cage's character in Face/Off. In fact, I'm pretty sure there's a scene later in the movie where he tells Denzel's character, "Woo wee, you good lookin'" or at least it's very close to that. I have to wonder if the movie would have been a twee bit better if Denzel and Travolta had switched places. I think Denzel would have played it more cool and calculating like Shaw. I had to laugh when I was reading the IMDb trivia for this movie and one of the entries was "Ryder is calmer in the novel and the original film, but angrier in the remake." Yeah, no kidding! Ryder has his henchmen as well but they don't play as significant a role as they do in the original.

Both men and their minions are able to separate the first car from the rest of the train and I believe there are 17 hostages in the original and 19 in the remake, but I could be wrong. When Mr. Blue and the others take out their guns, nobody hardly even blinks an eye except for one woman who gasps. The other passengers are either reading or talking amongst themselves, or in one woman's case, is dead asleep. In fact, I thought she WAS dead for the longest time, but she was just actually really drunk (we see a bottle fall out of her bag at one point) and spends the majority of the movie asleep on the subway bench. Then, when Mr. Blue announces, "Your attention please. Anyone who tries to rise is going to get shot", it is met with laughter. The only one who seems to be concerned is the woman who gasped (and she gasps again here). What is wrong with these people? Do they not see the four men with guns? Do they not realize the severity of their situation? Didn't hijacks happen all the time in the '70s? Shouldn't they be taking this a little more seriously? Someone even makes a crack about how it's usually a plane that get hijacked. I did a bit of research over at the scholarly website known as Wikipedia and it appears that there were more hijackings in the '70s than there were in the '90s, '00s, and '10s combined. So it's not like these people are strangers to hijackings...I guess they just weren't used to one on a subway! An old man asks, "Shouldn't we be let in on what's happening?" and Mr. Blue replies with, "What's happening is that you're being held by four very dangerous men with machine guns." Talk about stating the obvious!

On the other side of the coin, our are heroes. In the '74 film, Walter Matthau plays a transit cop named Zachary Garber and in the '09 film, Denzel Washington plays a subway dispatcher named Walter Garber, so a nice nod to the actor of the original film. Through the majority of the movie, Denzel is just sitting at a desk, looking a bit disheveled at times. He's very pedestrian in this. I guess they wanted to make sure this is just your ordinary guy who's not used to being a hero. It drove me crazy when he referred to the train as "one twenty-three" instead of "one two three", but once Ryder takes over the train, he refers to it by the right name.

Matthau's Garber has a couple of supporting players who help him. There's Operations Lieutenant Rico Patrone (the late, great Jerry Stiller, you probably know him best as Frank Costanza) and a man named Frank Correll who I didn't catch what his title is, but he's someone who doesn't think they should pay the money. When he hears Mr. Blue's demands, he declares, "You're out of your skull!"

Mr. Blue gets in contact with Garber at the control center and tells him he has seventeen passengers and the conductor held hostage and is prepared to kill any or all of them if they don't obey his demands which is he wants them to tell the mayor that they demand one million dollars (pretend I'm saying that in a Dr. Evil voice) in cash for the release of the car and the passengers. He wants the money by 3:13, which is an hour from now and they will kill one hostage for every minute it's late and if anyone intervenes in any way, they will start killing hostages immediately. He tells them there are three things that they should know:
1. Pelham 123 is completely in their control.
2. There are four of them and they are all armed with automatic weapons.
3. They have "no scruples whatsoever about killing."

In the remake, it's basically the same deal, except it appears the going rate for 18 hostages (there were 19 originally, but somebody has already been killed) in 2009 is ten million dollars. Inflation, am I right? He also wants his money within the hour and will also kill one passenger every minute the money is late. I did like the exchange between the two lead actor when Ryder asks Garber when he thinks a fair time limit would be and Garber replies, "Thursday?" and Ryder tells him, "I was thinking more like an hour." Now, it would have been nice to know what day it is (if they said, then I missed it) because it would be one thing if it was Friday and Garber wanted a whole week, but it was Tuesday or Wednesday, I think 24 or 48 hours would be a much more fair time limit than a freaking hour!

The very limited time limit is pointed out in the '74 movie. After Garber tells Mr. Blue that the mayor has agreed to pay the ransom, he is given very precise instructions on how the money (of which he wants all the bills to be old so the serial numbers will be random) should be sorted and prepared. He tells him he has 26 minutes remaining, but Garber says he should turn off his clock since they agreed to pay the money. As he tells Mr. Blue, "Your instructions were complicated. The money has to be counted, stacked, tied, transported, - it just isn't physically possible."While I definitely see Garber's point, I understand why Mr. Blue still has a time limit. If he turns off the clock, it could give the police the excuse to think of another way to try to stop them or not pay the ransom or something. However, 26 minutes is a ridiculous short time to prepare a million dollars in a very specific way even if there were a lot of people helping them. Ha, wasn't there a task on a season of The Amazing Race where the last three teams are at a casino in Vegas and they have to count a million dollars worth of chips and they were having a tough time with that. Of course, there are only two people to a team.

There's one particular tiny change I really loved how they handled in the remake. So in the original it is revealed to the control center that there is an off duty cop on the train as one of the hostages. They know this because there were two cops and one of them got off and reported it when the news got out. They have no idea who the cop is, but whoever it is, they can't do anything anyway. Being set in the '70s, this movie is quite cringe-y with its sexism and racism. Correll says if he was running things, he would just go in and start blasting them (this guy is a real piece of work) and wonders about the cop: "When is he going to start shooting?" Garber replies that they don't even know if the cop is a man to which Correll scoffs, "A woman cop? What the hell good are they?" Then he mumbles something about "her goddamn purse" which I didn't quite catch, but it was clearly sexist and offensive. Then, later, Garber himself dismisses the idea of a female cop when they're talking about the cop again and he says, "There's a bunch of heavily armed men down there. What chance does one lousy cop got? Especially if it's a dame." Ugh, I mean, honestly, I would think if the cop were a man or a woman, they wouldn't have a great chance. Of course the cop turns out to be a man. This is the '70s, after all. But they keep this joke going for a payoff that's quite lame. I'm jumping a bit ahead of myself, but the cop will jump off the train to pursue the perpetrators and gets shot (he's still alive, though) and is laying facedown on the tracks. When Garber sees him, he thinks it's a woman because he has long hair and says, "Everything will be okay, ma'am" or something like that. You know what they did with the cop who was on the train in the remake? They kill him off first thing. The cop tries to stop the men and is immediately taken out. Perfect. Now you don't have to deal with a lame ongoing joke with a lame payoff. Of course the original is a little more comedic than the remake, so I can't see the new one doing that so I think they handled that just right. 

The '09 movie focuses a bit more on the Garber/Ryder relationship than the '74 one does. We get more backstory on both these characters. In the original, while Mr. Blue mainly speaks with Garber, we also see him speaking with Correll and Patrone and he doesn't really care who he's talking to as long as he's getting his money. In the remake, Garber is the first person to talk to Ryder and once a hostage team is assembled with a lead negotiator who takes over (John Turturro), they send Garber home. I guess his shift was over or something. When Ryder realizes Garber is no longer there, he gets very upset and irrational and he kills Jerry, the motorman, who was also a friend of Garber's. He tells them they have sixty seconds to bring Garber back or he will kill someone else. Garber is just exiting the building when they hustle him back in and gets back to the communication center with second to spare. He asks Ryder why he killed Jerry and Ryder tells him the city of New York killed Jerry. Don't think it quite works that way, Ryder. 

Ryder has looked up Garber on the Internet and finds out he is being investigated for allegedly taking a bribe. He brings it up and wants Garber to basically confess with everybody standing around and hearing every word. Garber keeps insisting that he didn't take a bribe.  He tells Ryder that he was the assistant chief transportation officer and part of his job was to go to the people who built the trains, the manufacturers, and bid on contracts for the train. He was accused of taking a $35,000 bid when he went to Tokyo to look at two different trains and chose what he thought was the best train and said it would be the train he would pick anyway. It hadn't yet been decided if he was guilty or not, but he was demoted to answering phones while they waited for the outcome. Ryder, the ever so rational person that he is, threatens to kill a passenger unless Garber admits he did it. He grabs a teenage boy who he has speak to Garber, then tells him, "You've got five second to save this kids life." What else can Garber do than confess to taking a bribe? Whether or not it's true, you have to at that point. He tells Ryder he did take the bribe and when Ryder asks him what he did with the money, he says he used it for his kids' college tuition. Now the movie never lets us know if he did take the bribe or not. Yes, he did confess, and yes, he did have a quick answer to how he spent the money, but saying you used the money for your kids education seems like fast thinking and makes you appear a little's not like he said he used the money for a vacation or a big screen TV. But he had no other choice but to confess to save that kid's life. When someone wants you to confess to something, even if you didn't do it, and they're holding a gun to someone's head and tells you you've got five seconds to confess, YOU ALWAYS CONFESS YOU DID IT! I did laugh when Ryder tells the kid to say, "Thank you, Garber, for saving my life." Just the way Travolta delivers that line is really funny. 

The bribe storyline isn't in the original, but the fact that it was a Tokyo business trip is clearly a homage to the original when Garber is showing four Japanese men who are directors of the Tokyo metropolitan subway system around. There's really no reason for this except that it provides exposition so Garber can introduce the audience, through these men, to other characters and explain how certain things work. When he introduces them (and the audience) to Rico, he wants him to tell them something exciting. Patrone tells them there was a bomb scare yesterday, but it just turned out to be a cantaloupe. (How do you confuse a cantaloupe with a bomb?) They try to make a joke (a very cringe-worthy one, at that) that Garber thinks they can't understand English and calls them "dummies" and "monkeys" in front of their faces, but turns out they understand English just fine. Why they still remain polite when Garber is being quite rude in front of them, I'm not sure. 

The mayor of New York plays a role in both films. In the '74 movie, the mayor is played by Lee Wallace and in the '09 movie, the mayor is played by James Gandolfini. There is a meeting in the first meeting about whether or not the ransom should be paid; there are people who think it shouldn't, but the mayor decides to pay the ransom because at the very least, he is guaranteed eighteen votes (although two passengers on that train are children, so therefore aren't able to vote...also, at one point I heard a baby crying, but there was no baby on that train!) Here's a fun fact: Doris Roberts plays his wife. I didn't know it was her until I read her name in the credits, then had to go back and watch that scene and I was like, Oh, yeah, that is the mom from Everybody Loves Raymond

In the remake, the mayor is brought to the Control Center where he talks with Ryder who makes a deal with him: he will trade all the passengers for him and he could save the life of seventeen New Yorkers. (The number of hostages to start was nineteen, but after the death of the cop and Jerry, the motorman, the toll went down to seventeen). The Mayor doesn't take his offer and Ryder screams at him that he didn't want him anyway.

Okay, remember the teen boy that Ryder almost kills but doesn't because of Garber's confession? (Or, should I say, "confession"). Well, he has a laptop he's using to communicate with his girlfriend (heh, if they ever did a remake of the remake, they would change that to an iPhone!) In the chaos of the takeover of the train, the laptop gets tossed underneath a seat and the connection is lost. Later, when the power is turned back on, the laptop, which is open and oh so conveniently pointed in the right direction, the girl sees what is going on and streams it live. This allows everyone at the command center to see what is going on inside the train and Garber recognizes one of the hijackers as Phil Ramos (Luis Guzman), a former motorman who killed a few passengers ten years ago when he was high on cough syrup and ran into the platform. He went to jail for manslaughter. 

Ryder has more of a backstory than Mr. Blue does. Pretty much all we know of Mr. Blue is that he was a mercenary in Africa. With Ryder, we learn that he's a Wall Street Guy. He doesn't seem like the Wall Street type with his neck tattoo, but I guess doing hard time in a white collar prison will do that to a guy. It is discovered that his real name is Dennis Ford (but I'll still refer to as Ryder for purpose of this review) and he was released from prison two weeks ago where he served a sentence of nine years, and, -get this- he spent the last four of those years on the same cell block as...dun, dun, dun....Phil Ramos, the disgraced motorman. Why a Wall Street guy and a motorman would be at the same prison is beyond me. 

Ryder was sent to prison for insurance fraud; he stole $20 million. He tried to take a plea bargain for three years, but the judge gave him ten because they didn't recover all the city's money. Honestly, they try to make sure he has a backstory that it becomes convoluted and confusing (seriously, this guy is a Wall Street guy, seriously?)

Now it's time for the money to be delivered. In both movies, they cut it very close to the wire. In the '74 film, Garber asks Mr. Blue for more time, but he says no, not even fifteen or ten minutes more. Once the money is sorted, they have about seven minutes to make it to their location. Garber doesn't think it will be enough time and they still have to carry the money down to the track on foot. Once again, Mr. Blue has strict and precise instructions on how he wants the money delivered: two unarmed policemen will walk down the track. One will have the money and the other will have a torch which he will flash continuously from side to side. Okay, real talk here: when he said "torch", I thought he meant a literal torch and I was thinking, Now I know there were flashlights in the '70s, but once he said "flash" I knew he meant a flashlight. Calling a flashlight a torch is either a British thing or a '70s thing. Perhaps both. Anyway, back to the instructions. When the policemen reach the car, the rear door will be open and the one with the money will throw the bag under the floor of the train and they will both walk back to 28th Street Station. Mr. Blue warns him, "Any wrong moves by anyone, I will kill a hostage" and ends the conversation by telling him that he has five minutes to deliver the money. When Garber realizes the money won't reach its targeted destination by 3:13, he asks Mr. Blue if they can at least get the money to the entrance by that time and Mr. Blue agrees. At least this movie is dealing with a more reasonable villain! When there is a minute left remaining, Mr. Blue is getting ready to shoot someone unless the money is there. Garber makes an executive decision and tells him the money has arrived even though it hasn't (it's been a bit delayed because a cop car has flipped over) and Mr. Blue tells him, "You made it just in time, didn't you?" Oh, if only he knew. An astonished Garber asks him,"If we were a few seconds late, you would have knocked off an innocent person?" Yeah, I have to agree with him. I think most criminals would want to avoid killing people. If you're there to get a ransom, collect your money and go. Why add murder to your conscious? But I suppose threatening to kill someone is a good way to instill fear. Not that I would know or anything. 

During the exchange, things don't go as planned when a gun is fired by a sniper who the police have positioned in the tunnel. In return, Mr. Grey retaliates and ends up killing the conductor. What a shock; once the money is delivered Mr. Blue calls back with more strict and precise instructions: he wants Garber to restore the power to the entire sector, then clear the local track from 28th Street to the South Ferry. He wants all the signals set to green. As always, he promises threats: if there are any red lights, he will shoot a hostage; if he sees another policeman, he will shoot another hostage; any deviation, he will shoot anther hostage. I almost wanted Garber to ask him, "What will you do if things don't go your way?", but better not goad the man with a gun and a greed for a million bucks. However, Garber does get a good shot in when he says,  "Listen, fellow, I hope you take this in the right spirit, but after this is over, you should seek out psychiatric help." Yeah, no kidding. Although Ryder needs way more psychiatric help than this guy does. 

Speaking of Ryder, in his movie, the money is late (surprise, surprise) because of an overturned car and Ryder is about to kill a young boy (he likes to go for the young passengers on his train; I guess he wants to make a statement), but another passenger, an Armed Forced guy who has somewhat made a connection with the kid and his mother, steps in front of the kid and takes the bullet for him. There is also accidental fire shot in this movie and Ramos is killed. There movie differentiates from the original when Ryder wants Garber to bring the money because then the cops won't bother him. That and because his motorman is dead and he knows that Garber was a motorman for over six years. There is talk among others on the command center side if Garber is in on this and I'm thinking, Oh, wouldn't that be a great twist if he was part of this whole setup the whole time? Spoiler warning: he's not. I guess they didn't want to veer too far from the original as the only people who are part of the plot are the four men in trench coats and hats and mustaches and spectacles. 

Ryder has instructions for the FBI agent similar to the ones Mr. Blue had for his Garber: he wants the power restored to the whole sector and the local tracks to be cleared from 68th to Coney Island with all green lights and no cops. With a gun pointed to him, Garber is forced to drive the train to the next station, then Ryder and the two remaining hijackers jump off after rigging the train to keep going...and it will because all the green lights have been ordered by him to stay on. I can't remember how, but Garber also manages to separate from the group and also manages to snag a gun. All the passengers are freaking out because the train won't stop and they realize nobody is driving it, but it manages to stop with no serious injuries. The other two hijackers are killed so Ryder is the only remaining one. Garber has followed him and confronts him on the Manhattan bridge where the police are running towards them. Ryder wants Garber to shoot him before the police reach them or he will kill Garber himself. He gives Garber a countdown of ten. Garber keeps turning his head to yell at the police who are nowhere near him and every time he kept turning his head, I kept shouting at the screen, "Don't turn your head, Denzel!" because I was worried that Ryder was going to grab the gun out of his hand. Of course the police don't reach them at the end of his countdown and Ryder goads Garber into shooting him which he does. Garber is able to pick up the gallon of milk he promised his wife he would get (in other words, he promised he would bring himself home) and most likely his bribery charges have been dropped.

So, yeah, if you're familiar with the original then you know the remake's ending is quite different. Sure, there are a few things they keep the same (like the train speeding down the tracks without a driver), but it goes a different direction, no pun intended. For one thing, Mr. Blue does not want Garber to bring him the money. He already has his motorman who's very much alive (besides, I don't think this Garber was ever a motorman). Garber and Patrone are wondering why they want to go to the South Ferry. Is there a boat or a sea plane waiting for them? They are following the train's moves on the board at Grand Central Tower so if they stop anywhere before the South Ferry, they'll know about it. 

Without any notice the train starts moving and there's a bit of comedy when people ask "what train is moving?" and Garber says, "What's the matter with everyone? How many hijacked trains we got around here anyway?" Mr. Blue tells Garber they're moving because they're trying to put some distance between them and all the cops that are situated in the tunnel.

A cop named Detective Daniels who is keeping in communication with Garber and has an eye on everything from the streets asks Garber if perhaps the hijackers jumped off the train after setting the throttle and while they're chasing the train, the bad guys are sneaking out of an emergency exit behind them. Garber dismisses this and tells him it's impossible because of "a little gizmo called 'dead man's feature'" which is a handle that has to have a hand pressing down hard on it at all time or else the train "stops cold". It was created in the event a motorman ever "drops dead". 

They notice the train stop again and Garber tells Daniels to put detectives on every platform from 14th to  the South Ferry. He also decides to join Detective Daniels so it's Patrone who gets in contact with Mr. Blue. While he wonders where Garber is, he doesn't threaten to kill anyone if he doesn't get to talk to him like Ryder did. When Mr. Blue questions where Garber is, Patrone tells him, "Even great men have to pee." And after Mr. Blue tells him to give his regards to Garber, Patrons tells him, "You can do it yourself at the arraignment." Ooh, snap, Frank Constanza! 

Turns out Detective Daniels was right and the four hijackers have managed to override the dead man's feature so the train is able to keep on running without them. This is when the policeman who is one of the hostages jumps off the train after them in the dark and crouches in the shadows to not be detected. One of them thinks they heard something, but the others just shrug it off. Meanwhile, the train is going fast, about  70 mph and the drunk woman is still passed out while everyone else is screaming. I think this woman needs help; somebody get her to an AA meeting, stat! Garber has a realization that the men must have jumped off the train, so he wants to go back to where the train was stopped for a few minutes. We probably get the most '70s line from the whole movie when Detective Daniels tells another officer, "Turn this thing around and burn rubber!"

We see the four men take off their disguises and put on different hats. I love the way Robert Shaw pronounced "moo-stash-es". You know, it's too bad we don't see a scene of Ryder in the remake peeling off his tattoo to reveal it was a fake one. That would have made a lot more sense because no way a Wall Street guy has a neck tattoo. Mr. Blue instructs them to toss their guns, but Mr. Grey wants to keep his with him in case "something goes wrong". He wants to make sure he has "some heavy artillery" with him. Mr. Blue coldly tells him, "I won't ask you again" to which Mr. Grey retorts with the worst reply he can think of: "Blow it out of your ass, Mr. Blue" and thus gets a handful of bullets in his chest. I mean, he did ask for it. 

The cop who jumped off the train after them and is hiding in the tracks takes his shot at Mr. Brown who comes out from the door and is peering around the wall on the small stoop of steps he's standing on. It is absolutely ridiculous that the cop kills him on his first try. He is laying down so already he doesn't have great aim, but the shot he has for Mr. Brown is narrow, but yet, despite all that, he kills him. It apparently takes a lot out of him because he's lying in the tracks, moaning, and Mr. Blue comes out and is about to shoot him, but this is when Garber shows up and tells him to drop the gun. Knowing the gig is up, Mr. Blue touches the live rail with his foot and electrocutes himself. Dude, if you wanted to kill yourself, why not just reach for the gun you dropped and just have Garber shoot you? I feel like getting shot would be a more desirable death than being electrocuted! Garber is cringing hardcore and I'm like, dude, I'm right there with you. Ouch. 

So the transit police know for a fact that three out of the four hijackers are dead, but where is the fourth guy, known as Mr. Green? They also know the three dead men were not the motormen, so that must leave the fugitive because somebody had to know how to drive the train. They go through a list of motormen who were recently discharged and find they have nine people to look into. We see Garber and Patrone pay a visit to a couple of them before they make their way to the apartment of Mr. Green, who they know as Harold Longman. Before they knock on the door we see the old man doing a Scrooge McDuck and literally rolling around on his bed covered in bills. When the transit police knock on his door and announce themselves, he tells them to wait a minute and hurriedly throws all of his money in the oven. Obviously this guy has never seen Breaking Bad or El Camino or else he would think of some better hiding spots for his money than a freaking oven! I did think it was a nice touch that he flushed the toilet right before he answered the door to make it look like that was the reason it took him a few minutes to answer the door. The cops have some questions for him and he tells them he works nights at Kennedy Airport as a forklift operator and had been home the whole afternoon, taking a nap. Longman is facing his bed when he's talking to the cops and sees a stack of money peeking out under the bed so he walks over and discreetly kicks it under his bed. When Garber asks him if he heard about the subway hijacking, he plays dumb and tells him he doesn't know about him and thinks he's kidding. I love Garber's deadpan reply: "Do I look like I'm kidding? Would I be here if I were kidding?" He does make a good point. 

Right before they're about to leave and come back with a warrant (as Mr. Longman points out, they need a warrant to search his place), Patrone wants to light his cigarette but doesn't have his match, so Longman invites him to use the stove. Now even though the money is in the oven and Patrone was using one of the burners, I thought for sure the money was going to be found or accidentally set on fire. Actually, what I really thought was that when Longman was busy talking to the detectives, his wife was going to come in the kitchen and turn on the oven to start dinner and by then it would be too late to save the money, but he didn't appear to be married. But nothing happens and the two cops leave, telling them they'll be back with a warrant which will give Mr. Green (gotta love that the guy who wound up with the money got the "green" name) plenty of time to hide his money somewhere else.

But then...something happens. Remember how I said all his sneezing was going to come back and play an important part? Well, throughout his phone calls with Mr. Blue, Garber kept hearing a sneeze in the background and at the very moment he and Patrone are about to leave, he hears that exact same sneeze and knows they caught their man. We get a freeze shot frame of Walter Matthau poking his head through the door and giving the man a "Gotcha!" look. The whole thing feels like something you would see at the end of a cheesy old sitcom complete with a "Wah-wah-wah" sound effect. Hey, I just said I preferred the original to the remake; I never said it was a perfect film!

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