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Marathon Man
2 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
John Schlesinger

Written By:
William Goldman

Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier, Marthe Keller, Roy Scheider, William Devane, Fritz Weaver

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Marathon Man (1976)
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Movie Review by Jarrod
December 12th, 2007

'Marathon Man' is a skillfully made thriller from John Schlesinger, best-known for his Oscar-winning Midnight Cowboy. That it has loose ends and plot holes is not even a sufficient criticism, since it doesn't really matter. William Goldman, adapting his own novel, has cut some corners, but suspense builds nicely, and you have a fantastic villain in Lawrence Olivier, as Szell, an ex- Nazi, who comes out of hiding to claim a stash of diamonds, after his brother Klaus is killed in a car crash, one that follows an exchange of insults between Klaus and another driver. Dustin Hoffman is Babe (real name Thomas), a grad student still troubled by his father's death, which was apparently suicide. His brother, Henry (Scheider) works for a government agency, and ends up dead, which leads Babe to become involved with Szell, who was cooperating with the aforementioned agency, or something like that. Szell is paranoid, and thinks maybe he will be double-crossed by the Americans, so this is yet another reason why he comes to New York to get the diamonds, before someone else gets them.

Szell is a loathsome character, an old man who has managed to elude justice, and feels no remorse for whatever past crimes he has committed. The famous scene in which Szell tortures Babe with dental instruments is appropriately unnerving. An equally effective scene has Szell walking the streets of the city, being spotted by former victims, who still recognize him after thirty years. Babe finds himself being betrayed by all sides, as well, which just complicates things further. Olivier earned an Oscar nomination for his performance. Hoffman is riveting as the distraught Babe, who feels he cannot trust anyone.

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