So long, Mr. Matthau
The remake of seminal ’70s subway-heist film The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 opens on Friday, and New York magazine film critic David Edelstein reviews it in yesterday’s issue. His interesting argument: It’s not just a bad movie, but, this time around, and unlike the original, it’s nearly Judenrein. “Starring the jaded, shambling Walter Matthau and scripted by Peter Stone, Pelham was a New York Jewish comedy writer’s take on the modern metropolis going meshuggener,” Edelstein writes. The remake, meanwhile, has lost its New York-Jewish particularism, he says. It “might as well have been set in Toronto.” For Edelstein, this is no tragedy. He calls the original a “broad, artless, pushy film.” You have to wonder, though, if it would even be possible to make a film today that’s true to the blue-collar Jewishness of the original. Never mind that Jerry Stiller’s character was named Rico Patrone. In the 70s, Jews could still play white ethnics, and working-class characters could be Jews. Maybe it’s because of New York’s changing demographics, maybe it’s because of a shift in what we regard as Jewish characters and Jewish roles, but nowadays, we wouldn’t really find a Jewish cop credible. Think of Stiller’s son, Ben. The only cop he’s ever played was David Starsky.
Stalled Trains [New York]