One man's dangerous attempts to clear his father's name.
A graduate student and obsessive runner in New York is drawn into a mysterious plot involving his brother, a member of the secretive Division. This film, famous for its excruciating "Is it safe?" torture scene by a Nazi dentist, is a spy classic with an all star cast.
John Schlesinger's adaptation of William Goldman's novel of the same name is a tense, starkly violent and politically-charged thriller. Immensely relevant to the times it is portraying and fueled by past terrors still lingering. The plot is simple: a Ph.D student finds himself in a deadly game with a greedy Nazi war criminal after his CIA agent brother is murdered. It is a constant motion of buildup and dramatic eruption, powered by psychological insight. The highly dramatic pace is kept convincing thanks to top-notch performances by Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier and Roy Scheider. Their vastly differing characters contrast one another, generations clash and moralities collide. Its spot as a 70s action classic is well deserved, soaring through its two-hour running…
Marathon Man holds up tremendously as the perfect embodiment of a 70s paranoid thriller. The tension building is what has not aged it. And putting Hoffman in the middle as the innocent and unaware protagonist instantly puts you in his shoes. It takes a while to get those wheels in motion but it's filled with memorable constricting set pieces. Credit where credit is due: What makes the movie sing is the combo of iconic cinematographer Conrad L. Hall, editor Jim Clark, composer Michael Small and classy direction by John Schlesinger. A William Goldman script doesn't hurt it either. Put an A-list cast in the middle and its impossible to fail.
As always, it's Olivier who just blows everyone out of the water.
America's falling out with the government in general due to Watergate and the Vietnam War, lead to a lot of mid 70s thrillers with anti heros and morally ambiguous messages. Films such as Three Days of the Condor had large government agencies as the villain, and Marathon Man is in that vain.
Thomas "Babe" Levy (Dustin Hoffman), is a graduate student of history at Columbia, and amateur marathon runner. Almost everyday he runs, and when he doesn't run, he is working on his dissertation on McCarthyism, since his dad committed suicide over accusations of being a communist during the 50s. Meanwhile, his Brother Henry, better known as Doc(Roy Scheider), a government agent, is trying to prevent Nazi doctor Christian Szell…
Nazis, stolen diamonds, extreme dental trauma; what's not to like? Marathon Man is an enthralling thriller that moves closer to a fast walk than marathon speed, but the performances by Hoffman, Scheider, and Olivier make up for any of the pacing issues I had with the movie. The make-up job they did on Hoffman's teeth for the last act made me feel physically ill. Very solid film.
Also, if they ever make a time machine, my first stop is mid-70s NYC. In all the great movies filmed there around that time, it never fails to be a character unto itself, often overshadowing some of the lesser actors onscreen.
A superbly taut thriller that draws you in with brilliantly suspenseful narrative, before delivering an intense final act brimming with violence. William Goldman's script is magnificently written and brilliantly captured by John Schlesinger and aptly performed by the talented cast. But what stands out most within this film is the soundtrack; high-pitched flourishes pierce the narrative throughout. I love a film that tests the limits of my speakers.
- "Is it great?... Is it great?"
- "Is what great?"
- "Is it great?"
- "I don't know what you mean. I can't tell you something's great or not, unless I know specifically what you're talking about."
- "Is it great?"
- "Tell me what the "it" refers to."
- "Is it great?"
- "Yes, it's great, it's very great, it's so great you wouldn't believe it."
'Marathon Man' is - indeed - great, though perhaps not entirely safe if you have an upcoming appointment with your dentist.
El típico thriller de los años 70, ni más ni menos. Pasó a la historia por la escena de la tortura y la fantástica actuación de Dustin Hoffman, pero por lo demás es una cinta excesivamente lenta, autoindulgente y por momentos bastante aburrida.
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Paranoia has never been so entertaining.
At this point it is clear that Hollywood has forgotten how to make a good spy movie. John Schlesinger's film is not a classic per se, but is way ahead from the current productions. And have the finesse of still feed our nightmares with some timeless sequences... "Is it safe?"
Though a few elements of the story are predictable, this film still packs a wallop.
“Is it safe?”
I can certainly appreciate the brilliance of this film but for me personally, I didn’t connect to it on a level that it does for most filmgoers. Reason 1: Political thrillers are not my bag; the flood of information and the need for prerequisite knowledge on the subject is just a little bit heavy for a visual medium. Reason 2: I’m part of a generation that has seen enough torture porn to make this famous ‘dental’ scene no more extreme than my own dental experience. Apart from those (personal) excuses that have no real critical significance I understand it’s a superior film that deserves the recognition it already receives.
What are we to make of all the references to race and racism (against Jews and Blacks in particular) in the film? If this film is about Babe (Dustin Hoffman), a man inspired by Black athletes and anti-fascism, reacting angrily and erratically to the currents of racism and fascism he sees around him then I like it a lot more. At least that would explain why he makes so many unbelievable decisions...
Is it safe?
There are many things I like about the film, but the two biggest are in the final 20 minutes. First, we have that old Jewish woman recognizing Szell and following him down the other side of the street. While it is repetitious, she's always screaming the same thing, the actress was wonderful, the fear in her voice. And Olivier in escaping the scene, just great work all the way around.
Second, is the final scene at the water works. I enjoy this scene mostly for just a single aspect; and while the acting is great, the cinematography by Conrad Hall, top notch, it is the set created by Richard MacDonald and Jack De Shields that is just amazing. The water cascading down, the wrought iron work is beautiful, the landing is well designed, and then the added spiral staircase into the water. Just a brilliant example of set design.