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- A CLASSIC of the Suspense genre!
"Marathon Man" is a CLASSIC of the Suspense genre and my favorite Dustin Hoffman film. I always thought that this movie and "The French Connection" would make the GREATEST double feature! Both are Suspense CLASSICS of the 70's.
Roy Scheider has always been an UNDERRATED actor, and here he gives his usual PERFECT performance. Who better to play the former Nazi villain than the actor that many (including Hoffman himself) consider to be one of the GREATEST of the 20th century, Sir Laurence Olivier?
If you want to see one of the GREATEST Suspense films ever made, this is WELL worth your time. You won't soon forget it.
"Is it safe?"...more info
- Is it Safe?
One of the best thrillers ever made. Period. The Marathon Man, The Godfather 1 & 2, The Deer Hunter, Close Encounters of the third Kind, Star Wars, Animal House, French Connection, Apocolypse Now, etc, etc. Filmed during the time when filmakers were known as artists and filmaking was called an art. That has all changed now in conservative Hollywood, where filmakers are now known as profiteers and filmaking is called a business. These days, the studio honchos know that if you just put a high paying actor/actress in a high budget film with a decent script...it'll work. Who needs a great script or good reviews when the film is grossing over $100 million or more at the box office. Right? ...more info
- A Triumph of Urban Paranoia, Atmosphere, and Suspense
After reading and loving William Goldman's brilliant novel, I first saw MARATHON MAN (MM) in its initial theatrical release when I was 13 years old, and the years haven't diminished its power for me. Sure, the plot gets a little more convoluted than it absolutely needs to be, but in a way it's because Goldman's screen adaptation (with a little uncredited tweaking by Robert Towne) takes into account the all-too-human character flaws of his heroes and villains, and the mistakes people make when they're fearful and paranoid. The stellar cast, from Dustin Hoffman's Babe Levy, the nebbishy grad student-turned-avenger (you'd never know he was pushing 40 in real life) to Marthe Keller's vulnerable femme fatale Elsa to Oscar nominee Sir Laurence Olivier's imperious, coolly evil Christian Szell to William Devane's slick, shadowy agent Janeway, are uniformly superb, with Roy Scheider deserving a place in The Suave Hall of Fame for his portrayal of Doc Levy, a.k.a. government agent "Scylla." If Scheider hadn't been so charismatic and engaging, Doc's murder in mid-film wouldn't have such impact, and the movie would suffer for it. As powerful as the cast, script, and John Schlesinger's direction are, however, I think the special secret ingredient that gives MM its punch is its atmosphere. The naturalistic, sometimes washed-out color palette almost lends the film a black-and-white film noir look. Almost every person in the film is angry, cynical, emotionally wounded, and/or generally negative in some way. And what really struck me was that onscreen, it seems like chaos and disaster are exploding all over the world. Look at the riots and bombings taking place in France in early scenes with Doc and Janeway (nicely subtle homosexual subtext there, by the way). Also, if you listen carefully to newscasts in the background, you'll notice there's nothing but bad news: murders, suicides, all kinds of violence all over (including the "chicken" game between the old Jew and Szell's brother as the film begins). MM is by no means a happy film -- even when our hero wins, he's already lost so much his victory seems hollow indeed -- but it never fails to grab and haunt me each time I watch it. If you love the film, you'll want to own the DVD not only for the superb letterboxed print, but also for the terrific extras, including both new and vintage making-of documentaries with Hoffman, Scheider, Keller, Goldman, producer Robert Evans and other major MM players, as well as rare rehearsal footage and the original theatrical trailer.
- No. The nerve here is almost dead. I want a new one.
The amazing thing about Marathon Man (MM) is that it's still scary thirty years later. There's a certain style of these late '60's early to mid 70's movies. So some quick observations.
The war in Vietnam had left everyone distrustful of the government. Perhaps not so much the President (although we should have) but the President's men (Haldemann, Erlichmann, Magruder, Mitchell) and certainly the alphabet agencies. See for example Condor where Cliff Robertson is like Roy Scheider (Doc), hard working, loyal, manly, faithful . . . well, maybe not quite. French Connection. Bullit. The Dirty Harry series. It's the land of shadowy agencies.
Secondly, there's sex. There's a lot of sex in these movies because . . . we could have sex now. Naked guys and girls. People falling in love or at least heavy like, and jumping in the sack.
Thirdly, there's the horror of WWII that was only a generation away. So when Dr. Christian Szell (Olivier) ends up in the diamond district, some of the survivors of Dachau, Treblinka and Auschwitz recognize him. I didn't see it the first time but that might of been a good ending as well, i.e. Babe (Hoffman) misses the appointment to stop him but Szell is torn apart by the crowd.
What are the movies that explode in this new freedom of expression? Well. For me they are Five Easy Pieces, Dog Day (one of the all time best), Butch and Sundance, French Connection, Body Heat (Whew. Maybe the best), Godfather I and II, Postman (remake) Easy Rider (maybe for the soundtrack), the above mentioned Three Days of the Condor, Bullit and Cukoo's Nest. There's a lot more. Those are my favorites, and of course, MM.
So much to read in these films from that decade. So much left unsaid. Great directors. You know you got the feeling (OK, going out on a limb here) that they weren't interested in the $. It really was art. You might not like it but it wasn't an investment project. The movie was run by directors and actors, not lawyers and CPAs. 5 stars. Larry Scantlebury ...more info
Dustin Hoffman has the incredible ability to make suspense come alive, like no other actor. This is one of his best roles.
- excellent 70s film
the torture scene ("is it safe?") is of course very memorable, but an equally gripping scene is when Olivier, the Nazi, goes to the Jewish section of town to assess the value of his diamonds and starts getting recognized by Holocaust survivors. Especially good are the old woman across the street, frantically yelling "Szell! Szell! Stop him!" and the man who confronts Szell and pays a terrible price for doing so. Hoffman is of course excellent, as well as Olivier, Scheider and Devane......more info
- Hurry up and get this movie out on DVD!
An underrated classic by William Goldman that rates with Hoffman's best movies....more info
- THEY DO NOT MAKE MOVIES THIS GOOD ANY MORE
The conspiracy movies included two fictional stories, "Marathon Man" and "The Parallax View", as well as the Watergate movie, "All the President's Men" (which Robert Redford produced after giving long consideration to a movie about how Kennedy stole the 1960 election?not!).
"Marathon Man" was directed by John Schlesinger, written by the great William Goldman (based on his novel), and produced by Bob Evans. Goldman, along with Towne, is considered one of the best screenwriters of all time. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1968) is an original screenplay that gets as much study as "Chinatown", and his book "Adventures in the Screen Trade" is a must-read for industry insiders. "Marathon Man" stars Dustin Hoffman as a Columbia doctoral student, obsessed with his thesis about his father, who committed suicide when he was "victimized" by McCarthyism. His brother is Roy Scheider, a super-secret agent for an organization that handles, apparently, what the FBI cannot and the CIA will not. His pal is William DeVane, and he is in league with the devil, a former Nazi dentist named Christian Zsell (played to perfection by Laurence Olivier), based on Joseph Mengele. Zsell is also known as the "White Angel". The plot revolves around millions of dollars worth of diamonds, smuggled to the U.S. by Zsell with DeVane's (and Sheider's) help. Hoffman accidentally gets involved and foils the plot. It is brilliant stuff in every way, shape and form, but coming on the heels of the Church hearings, the film plays on the public's belief that the CIA is corrupt, bent more on money and power than protecting the interests of freedom. The anti-hero is Hoffman. The backstory of his persecuted Jewish father strengthens the myth that fine liberals of conscience were the victims of the McCarthy witch-hunt. Like all films depicting McCarthyism, the victim is fictional and there are no scenes based on real events. This is because actual scenes of actual "victims," if they hold to the truth, will show actual Communists being caught in lies by public officials using perfectly normally and legal techniques of American justice....more info
- A Day At The Dentist...
When I see Dustin Hoffman in newer movies of today, I forget that this same guy was in MARATHON MAN, as well as MIDNIGHT COWBOY and STRAW DOGS! MARATHON MAN has that 70s thriller feel that is unique to that decade. While there is plenty of suspense, mystery, and action, there is also a more human side to such films. Hoffman's pain is not just physical. He is tortured in mind as well as body. His character's relationships w/ his brother (Roy Scheider) and his girlfriend (Marthe Keller) are emotional and real. This makes the loss all the more agonizing, and the final¨¦ completely understandable. Laurence Olivier plays his nazi role w/ calm, cold precision, creating a memorable icon of evil. It is his face I still see whenever I need a tooth filled! MARATHON MAN is superb... ...more info
- A prime example of the way highly styled entertainment should be...
Schlesinger made a great action-suspense film and married it to the artistry of unique talents... Hoffman was, by then, a dynamic, young and incredibly versatile film actor with three Academy Award nominations already under his belt for "The Graduate," "Midnight Cowboy," and "Lenny."
But the key to "Marathon Man" was the chemistry between its stars... Perhaps one of the most gut-wrenching and most memorable scenes in the film comes when Hoffman is captured and tortured by Olivier who plays the role of a mean and vicious and sadistic Nazi war criminal, Christian Szell... Olivier's performance resulted in a 1976 Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor...
In 1945, Szell ran the experimental camp at Auschwitz where they called him the White Angel... He was a dentist and could provide escape for any Jew who was willing to pay the price... He started out with gold, naturally, but very quickly worked his way up to diamonds...
As Szell saw the end early, he sneaked his brother into America with the diamonds... And they were right here, in New York, in a safe deposit-box until Szell's brother got killed in a head-on collision with an oil truck...
Uniquely built, and with a marvelous, rugged face, Roy Scheider, well known for his strong performances in "The French Connection," "Klute," and "Jaws," came on board as Hoffman's mysterious businessman brother, getting the rare chance to play a character that's both hero and villain... Doc is a fascinating guy because he chooses to work out his problems in a much different way than Dustin's character does... He was very touched and very moved by his father's death, but he abandoned all his hopes for whatever he intended to do and he became a spy, a killer, a very jaded personality...
In doing something truly suspenseful, Schlesinger accomplished a film that's largely about fear and it's about pain and the infliction of pain because of fear... The thrilling sensation of great expectations came on the 47th Street in the diamond district in New York, where Schlesinger gets the best of it... ...more info
- Olivier is scary
Christian Szell - brilliantly played by Laurence Olivier - is one of the scariest movie characters of all time... right up there with Norman Bates and Hanibal Lechter. This movie always reminds me of one of Alfred Hitchcock's common themes: that evil comes in all shapes and sizes. Only Olivier could make us believe that a little old white-haired dentist is actually one of the most vile mass-murderes of the 20th century......more info
- A Great American Thriller
Dustin Hoffman is Thomas Levy, history graduate student at Columbia and obsessive runner. He's obsessed too with the death of his father, another historian, who was driven to suicide by the McCarthy witch-hunts, a preoccupation distrusted both by his pompous and disagreeable professor (Fritz Weaver) and by his brother Henry (Roy Scheider). Henry is believed by Thomas to be a bigshot executive for an oil company but in fact he is an undercover agent working for some obscure special operations outfit. In this capacity he is embroiled with the plans of evil former Nazi torturer Dr. Christian Szell (Olivier) to come to America to pick up a collection of diamonds extorted from Jews during the war, now in a New York bank. Things seem to be turning nasty. People are trying to kill Henry. And indeed the bad guys seem to be taking a bit of an interest in Thomas too as well as in his new Swiss (or is she?) girlfriend Elsa (Marthe Keller).
This great thriller is one of the highpoints of 1970 American cinema. Everyone involved is at the height of their powers. For both Hoffman and writer William Goldman it was project that followed "All the President's Men". For Scheider it followed fairly hot on the heels of "Jaws". And it's one of the high points in the career of distinguished British director John Schlesinger who died just a few months back. Schlesinger's direction is brilliant. The set pieces are extraordinarily well put together starting right at the front in a brilliant scene where an initially innocuous road rage incident turns into a catastrophic road accident. And the atmosphere of New York's streets is superbly captured throughout, in the scenes that track Hoffman's running forays, in the famous scene where former inmates of Auschwitz recognize Szell in the street; and throughout; indeed it counts as one of the great New York movies.
The acting is splendid too. Hoffman and Scheider on excellent form. Keller and the plot line involving her work less well and that is perhaps the movie's weakest aspect. But it's more than compensated by Olivier whose Dr Szell, a.k.a. "Der Weisse Engel", is one of the greatest and most frightening of screen baddies and makes Hannibal Lecter look like a pussycat. (A story I remember hearing about the movie that may very well be apocryphal but is still fun. Apparently when Hoffman was required to enter a room after supposedly having been out running, he would go running for real first to create the requisite exhausted, out of breath effect. Olivier, on having this explained to him, is said to have inquired: "Why not try ACTING, dear boy?"). And of course he gets centre-stage in one of the scariest scenes ever. "Jaws" played on our fears of large unseen marine predators; "Nightmare on Elm Street" on our fear of nightmares; "Arachnophobia" on our fear of spiders. But Goldman and Schlesinger are cleverer than any of these and tap into our deepest and most primal fear of all, fear of visiting the dentist, with unforgettable effect....more info
- See this one AFTER your 6 month dental checkup
Olivier and Hoffman are great, in that order. Olivier captures the essence of every crotchety old kraut you ever met. Hoffman shows you your worst dental appointment. An old lady demonstrates that you always remember some people. But the overall story could have been better and more filled out.
Nazis stealing treasure and hiding it for years...nahhhh....more info
- One of Schlesinger's Better Movies
Made from William Goldman's novel, MARATHON MAN is a very good thriller movie, the sort of thing that the fine director John Schlesinger did very well indeed. Although the film was released almost ten years after THE GRADUATE, Dustin Hoffman in some of the scenes looks as youthful as he did in that film and sometimes he lapses into the same speech patterns as he used in THE GRADUATE. You half way expect Mrs. Robinson to walk into the room at any time. Roy Scheider and William Devane give respectable performances, but the best acting has to be that of the great Laurence Olivier who plays the Nazi Christian Szell for which he was nominated for an Academy Award.
Olivier's torture scene with the dental equipment is as chilling the third time I saw this movie as it was the first. The scene of course is a classic and not to be missed.
For this sort of movie, MARATHON MAN is about as good as they come. ...more info
- so what
every body says this movie is "great",its dumb,it goes from scene to scene,and that about it,as for the torture scenes,they are like barely a minute long altogther(there are two torture scenes)they dont show anything,i was bored at the end of the movie....more info
- IS IT SAFE???
This is one of the finest suspense movies of the 70's. Hoffman's potrayal of a coward forced to come to terms with the evil force of Olivier is top notch. After the torture scene you'll never feel "safe" going to the dentist again....more info
- Pass The Novocaine, Doc!
I have always found this to be a very entertaining, involving, taut suspense movie with some very dramatic scenes. I've seen in four times over the years and liked it better each time, particularly since it's been available on DVD which enhanced the sound from mono to stereo, and the 1.85:1 widescreen enhancing the cinematography.
The film is fascinating with no dry spots despite its two-hour length. There is a nice variety of action scenes and very interesting characters. Marthe Keller never looked better. Too bad she didn't make more movies in the U.S. Dustin Hoffman, as he did so well in the '70s, keeps your attention and Laurence Olivier is absolutely riveting. This is a terrific thriller, start to finish.
On the other side of the coin, to be balanced about the film, I didn't find the infamous dentist scene to be as terrifying as it was made up to be and the references to the McCarthy hearings and having the U.S government police agencies corrupt are getting to be tiresome of the Left in the movie business.
Overall, still a fascinating film after 30-plus years. I'm sorry we recently lost Roy Scheider, who appears in this film. He was such an underrated actor.
- A THRILLER THAT ACTUALLY THRILLS
This is an old favorite. I watched it again the other night. It's
been over twenty years since I saw it last, and it's still as
good today as it was back then. The first half of the movie
plays heavily on plot and character development,which serves well
during the later action scenes. This development is not boring,
it is intermingled with sequences of international intrigue,
murder, and betrayal. Hoffman plays a history student who also
happens to be a wanna-be marathon runner obsessed with the death
of his father. Without giving too much away, Laurence Olivier
gives an excellent and chilling performance as a Nazi with a
knack for dental instruments. This is one of those "I don't
know who I can trust" movies. Unlike most movies with this
premise, it creates a believable scenario,instead of relying on
the same old tired "I can't remember" trick that so many lesser
movies cheat their audience with. Once this movie kicks into
overdrive, it moves along at a fever pitch with twists and turns
around every corner. The suspense will have you on the edge of
Thanks and enjoy,
- IS WHAT SAFE?
No question has ever been more puzzling in a film than "Is it safe?" After two viewings of this classic film, I am still not sure what Olivier was referring to? Safe to go to the bank? The diamonds? Just as Dustin Hoffman, I still find myself wondering is what safe?
This is undoubtedly a well made movie, acted with impeccable perfection by Hoffman, Olivier, Roy Scheider and William Devane. But some things still baffle me: the band-aid box with diamonds in it is given by Zell's brother to someone on the street, just prior to his untimely death in the road rage scene. Later, we see Scheider put the box in a box of candy and gives it to some clerk, who then gets murdered at the opera. The next time we see the band aid box, it's in the safety deposit box in New York. How did it get there? And why is William Devane so bent on killing Hoffman too? I must have missed something in both viewings; but, I admit I was mesmerized with the plot, and the chilling climax between Hoffman and Olivier is simply devastating.
Maybe someday I'll know what I just watched?...more info
- A QUINTESSENTIAL 70's CLASSIC
Great 70's gritty film with some of the most memorable scenes in film history. Don't miss the scenes where Christian Czell brazenly travels to the W 47th St. diamond district for an "appraisal".What great 70's movie would be complete w/o Roy Scheider? Good performance by Marthe Keller(what happened to her? )Olivier is simply outstanding as Czell, as is Dustin Hoffman. Don't miss an evil and hyper William Devane....more info
- One of my top 200 cult movies !
The opening sequence in which we watch two old man discussing and offending one each other in the middle of New York City is terrific .
You will find a lot of excitement in this passionate thriller about double agents and elderly Nazis . The script is heavy puzzled and the violence spills very often along the film but at the end you gratify this entry .
Olivier plays a cruel dentist who will torture Dustin Hoffman making famous the expression : Isn't it safe? such as an operatic obstinate .
And the rest runs for you my dear reader . Based on William Goldman 's novel.
- THEY DO NOT MAKE MOVIES THIS GOOD ANY MORE
The conspiracy movies included two fictional stories, "Marathon Man" and "The Parallax View", as well as the Watergate movie, "All the President's Men" (which Robert Redford produced after giving long consideration to a movie about how Kennedy stole the 1960 election...not!).
"Marathon Man" was directed by John Schlesinger, written by the great William Goldman (based on his novel), and produced by Bob Evans. Goldman, along with Towne, is considered one of the best screenwriters of all time. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1968) is an original screenplay that gets as much study as "Chinatown", and his book "Adventures in the Screen Trade" is a must-read for industry insiders. "Marathon Man" stars Dustin Hoffman as a Columbia doctoral student, obsessed with his thesis about his father, who committed suicide when he was "victimized" by McCarthyism. His brother is Roy Scheider, a super-secret agent for an organization that handles, apparently, what the FBI cannot and the CIA will not. His pal is William DeVane, and he is in league with the devil, a former Nazi dentist named Christian Zsell (played to perfection by Laurence Olivier), based on Joseph Mengele. Zsell is also known as the "White Angel". The plot revolves around millions of dollars worth of diamonds, smuggled to the U.S. by Zsell with DeVane's (and Sheider's) help. Hoffman accidentally gets involved and foils the plot. It is brilliant stuff in every way, shape and form, but coming on the heels of the Church hearings, the film plays on the public's belief that the CIA is corrupt, bent more on money and power than protecting the interests of freedom. The anti-hero is Hoffman. The backstory of his persecuted Jewish father strengthens the myth that fine liberals of conscience were the victims of the McCarthy witch-hunt. Like all films depicting McCarthyism, the victim is fictional and there are no scenes based on real events. This is because actual scenes of actual "victims," if they hold to the truth, will show actual Communists being caught in lies by public officials using perfectly normally and legal techniques of American justice.