The spirited Hector Elizondo did a q & a following last night’s Aero screening of Joseph Sargent‘s The Taking of Pelham 123. Elizondo plays the coarse, dryly menacing “Mr. Gray,” one of four disguised men who hijack a subway train in this 1974 classic. I didn’t know Elizondo would be visiting until I arrived, but it was a real pleasure to absorb his humor and energy and rascally wit.

Born in 1936 and raised in southwest Harlem, Elizondo gives off a kind of sophisticated street schwing that feels highly infectious. His basic attitude is a combination of “what’s next?,” “keep moving,” “look deeper” and “never stop with the jokes.” You can take the man out of Manhattan (I presume Elizondo lives out here) but you can’t the Manhattan out of the man. I didn’t take his picture but I applauded with vigor when the interview ended.
The Taking of Pelham 123 looked great — no scratches or color deterioration, although the sound felt weak. Charley Varrick, which went on at 10 pm after Elizondo signed off, came from a very clean and well-tended print, but the images seemed too dark at times. The DVD delivers more visual value. Too many scenes last night seemed underlit in a way that couldn’t have been intended by director Don Siegel.