Best Movies by Farr: Marathon Man

May 5, 2013 | John Farr

by John Farr

Dustin Hoffman was one of the biggest Hollywood stars of the Seventies. John Farr discusses the nail-biting thriller that showcases Hoffman’s talents.

Marathon Man (1976)

What It’s About:
Thomas “Babe” Levy (Dustin Hoffman) is a nerdy New York grad student who finds himself in a nightmare soon after his mysterious older brother Doc (Roy Scheider) pops in to visit. Though Doc betrays precious little to his kid brother, he’s in fact with the CIA, hot on the trail of former Nazi Dr. Christian Szell (Laurence Olivier). When Doc next bursts in to Babe’s apartment mortally wounded, the clueless younger brother is plunged into some deadly international intrigue involving stolen diamonds, and becomes a target of Szell himself.

Why I Love It:
Dustin Hoffman re-grouped with “Midnight Cowboy” director Schlesinger for this nerve-jangling thriller based on screenwriter William Goldman’s novel. Some critics fault the movie for loose ends in the plot, but in a thriller of this type, plot logic seems almost secondary. The Oscar-nominated Olivier is chilling as the sadistic Szell, but the resto f the cast id equally fine, including Scheider and William Devane as a corrupt government agent. Twisty and paranoic, “Man” delivers…” Add final sentence: “Is it safe to see this movie? You decide.

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