Walter Matthau did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Lieutenant Zachary Garber in The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three.
One of the many aspects of The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three that makes it as great of a thriller as it is, and it is ample amount of humor it brings to the entire proceedings. Someone who helps in this throughout is Walter Matthau as transit policeman Garber who ends up being the one trying to negotiate for with head hostage taker Mr. Blue (Robert Shaw) who is quite firm about his timeline. Garber's a very unique hero for the film who spends much of the time behind a microphone until close to the end of the film.
Garber's role of trying to figure out the criminal's escape plan while
trying to keep all of the hostages alive is technically speaking
relatively simple. Matthau though never makes Garber any less than he
should be though, and is always good in bringing to life any moment in terms of the severity of the situation. He also stands as frankly just a likable character to follow along through the proceedings through Matthau rather unusual charm. Matthau uses this charm well though in the role, to brings us right into the story.
Matthau makes the most out of his role through his abilities as a natural comedian though. Matthau though finds the right tone throughout his performance. He knows exactly how to combine humor in his role equally well with his more dramatic moments. He is able to find the precise tone for the entirety of his performance. He aids well in bringing a lot of lighter moments to keep the film funny the whole way through. Matthau never lays on too thick or too think, and gives delightful spin on what could have been a far less memorable role.
Matthau is just hilarious throughout through the smallest quick gestures. He has excellent comedic timing in the role with his quick sharp asides throughout the process of the negotiation. His moments with Robert Shaw are particular highlights in the film. Robert Shaw is absolutely cold as ice in his portrayal of Blue's negotiation, and Matthau creates an very enjoyable dynamic by being the lighter sides to things as Garber cracks jokes along the way. He is able to make every one of them really work well as both being funny, but as well still keeping the scenes properly dramatically compelling as well by not overdoing it.
It is actually quite amazing how well Matthau maneuvers through his role since he never runs short on being a believable man in this situation as well as always very amusing one as well. He simply never falters from one scene to next making through the film with ease. Matthau as well though does actually make Garber believable as a mind to match with Shaw's blue. He of course is never nearly as intense as Shaw in the role, but Matthau is good in showing that Garber is always taking a moment in his deciphering of their plan. Through these small moments of subtly Matthau is able to make Garber's success at the end of the film realistic.
Matthau was the perfect choice for this role of the film, since he is able to be so casual in the role while being entirely invested as well. This is just a great work by Matthau because really Garber could have sunk the film in the wrong hands, and really it would have been easy, very very easy, to allow Robert Shaw run away with the entire picture. Matthau though stands as a worthy opponent to Shaw throughout the film. He does not quite have the raw power of course as Shaw's work, but Matthau more than fulfills his particular role in the film. Matthau simply never fails to succeed in his unique role both being a hilarious and worthy protagonist for the film.