It took a bit to get going with the plotline but once it got going, it did not stop. Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier, Marthe Keller, William Devane, Roy Scheider and others all shined in this. A must watch!
They sure don't make them like this anymore
Birthe Jrgensen | Odense, Denmark | 08/18/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'll spare you a long talk about the movie, except that it's one of the best thrillers ever made. Enough said. Now for this new DVD. Finally we get this classic in widescreen, that alone should please many fans. (-The opening credit scene has a different letterboxing than the rest of the movie, for some reason.) The extras will make you drool !. A new documentary with most of the people involved with the movie, except Olivier, of course. Sadly, neither William Devane, Fritz Weaver, Richard Bright or the director take part. Still, it's great to hear the stories surrounding this excellent suspense movie, like why it was decided to give Olivier's character that last infamous meal !. -But it makes sense, considering what Hoffman's character went through. At one point when talking about Olivier, Hoffman is almost in tears. Touching. Strangely enough, I found the full-screen clips shown during the documentary to be sharper than the movie itself presented on this DVD. Stll, you must get this release, even if the price is a little high. There's also a very good 70s making-of featurette with interviews. Take ANY thriller made today, compare it to "Marathon Man", and "Marathon Man" will win on ALL levels. It's as simple as that."
Is It Safe?
Erik North | San Gabriel, CA USA | 10/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of the great suspense dramas of the 1970s, MARATHON MAN is a somewhat violent buy often stylish and sinister intrigue thriller that remains a high watermark of its genre.Dustin Hoffman portrays the Columbia University graduate student and marathon runner who becomes caught up in a deadly game involving smuggled diamonds belonging to a Nazi fugitive (Laurence Olivier). Hoffman's brother (Roy Scheider) was one of the couriers helping to transport the diamonds, which are now in a safety deposit box in a Manhattan bank; and when Olivier kills Scheider, it is assumed by Olivier and his henchmen that Hoffman knows something about them. He is strapped to a dental chair in an abandoned warehouse, forced to undergo dental torture at the hands of the Nazi, who had been a dentist. Olivier keeps asking him numerous time, "Is It Safe?" (regarding the diamond stash). Hoffman doesn't know a thing, but this doesn't stop Olivier from performing a root canal--one of the most squeamish sequences in cinematic history.Excellently directed by John Schlesinger and scripted by William Goldman (from his own novel), MARATHON MAN features a typically fine performance by Hoffman as the man in the middle, and Olivier, arguably the greatest actor that ever lived, as the very devious Nazi fugitive. Scheider, who was brilliant in JAWS, scores more points here, as do William Devane and Marthe Keller. The opening sequence, a vicious and somewhat hilarious car-to-car argument between an irate Jew and Olivier's brother which ends in a collision with an oil truck, sets the story's machinations off, and is deftly handled by Schlesinger in a manner Hitchcock would have admired.If you have a fear of dentists, of course, you may want to steer clear of MARATHON MAN. But if intense suspense is your game, this is as good a film to start with."
The Race is Not Always to the Swift
Martin Asiner | jersey city, nj United States | 08/21/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Tom (Dustin Hoffman) studies history, partly because theories of history are so clear cut and comforting, unlike life, and partly because years earlier, his father committed suicide after having been branded a communist. As he matures, he learns that books and a love of history cannot prepare him for the real world. In MARATHON MAN, Tom learns that the real world is far more dangerous than the relatively minor razzing that a local street gang subjects him to. He learns that the people who are the closest to him are not what they appear to be. His brother Doc (Roy Scheider) is a businessman with a secret life as a CIA agent. His girlfiend Elsa (Marthe Keller) is mixed up with an escaped Nazi dentist, ex-Auschwitz Commandant Szell (Sir Lawrence Olivier). The movie starts off slowly with Tom first believing in then later finding out the truth about Doc and Elsa. He learns that all three have been looking for a hidden cache of diamonds stolen from Jews during the Holocaust.
MARATHON MAN stands out as quite different from other chase and thriller films that seek to capitalize on the genocide of the war. Here, Dustin Hoffman plays Tom as decidedly unheroic. He can run fast and far, and shows creative talent in tight situations, but he is no fist fighter. He is constantly bullied and beaten by a variety of thuggish types. He endures a brutally realistic session as a prisoner in a dentist's chair when Szell uses his dental skills to extract facts rather than molars. Yet,despite Tom's lack of martial skills, he proves every bit the equal of spy types who kill for a living. As convincing a job as Hoffman does as Tom, the real star is Olivier as the demented dentist Szell. Olivier is absolutely convincing as the former camp commandant who will stop at nothing to retrieve the stolen diamonds. While seeking to ascertain the value of his diamonds, Szell goes to the diamond district of New York, a business run by the very people he killed in massive numbers some thirty years earlier. An old woman and a diamond dealer recognize him and the tension generated by his potential exposure forces the viewer to see events from the unlikely perspective of the hunter who is now the hunted. Olivier was a deserved nominee for best supporting actor as Szell. The movie points to a climactic confrontation between Tom and Szell, and when it arrives, the sparkly diamonds serve only to throw light on the ongoing but long postponed battle between a man who thought the passing of time would excuse and justify his acts and a man who is determined that all bills, even overdue ones, must be paid in full."
Marathon Man Mockery
Derek Marriott | Birmingham UK | 02/22/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"If you're a fan of this film - don't buy this DVD (the Paramount "Widescreen collection" 120mins as sold in the UK). It has been clumsily edited to the point that key sequences no longer make sense. The renowned drilling scene, for instance IS NOT IN THIS DVD despite the fact that it appears in on the back cover and the inlay. Check imdb - the film is supposed to be 125 minutes long - not 119. A disappointing experience for me after much anticipation, and a sad end for what in its true form is an outstanding piece of film."
Great Mystery Thriller!
Barron Laycock | Temple, New Hampshire United States | 07/24/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Contrary to what some of the other reviewers have said, I consider this to be a very well produced look into the nature of the secret and often-murky world of espionage and big-stakes intrigue. Set in New York City at a thinly disguised Columbia University, the thriller stars Dustin Hoffman plays Tom Levy, a psychologically tortured graduate student in contemporary 20th century history who is the surviving younger son of an activist-scholar father, a man who had committed suicide after suffering vilification and career demise at the hands of the McCarthy hearings in the early 1950s. Roy Scheider plays Tom's older brother Henry, who has chosen a different means to face the world of power and privilege as a corrupted agent who is scheming with his best friend and handler (William Devane) to surreptitiously blackmail a reclusive Nazi war criminal, the infamous White Angel of the death camps, Christian Szell, wonderfully played with panache and chilling deadliness by the consummate Sir Lawrence Olivier.Due to an unfortunate accident involving his equally anti-Semitic brother, who acted as Szell's agent in laundering the ill-gotten mother lode of diamonds Szell had personally stolen during the war from victims of the Holocaust, the evil dentist is forced to leave his hideout in the South American jungle to retrieve all the remaining diamonds to ensure his financial future. And the game of high stakes cat and mouse is on, a game involving several sub-plots, and involves an unlikely collage of good and bad guys in one of the most mind-twisting and yet entertaining spy flicks this side of "The Three Days Of The Condor".This film borders on being film noire, and offers very graphic and violent sequences that are not fro children or the squeamish. The cast is excellent, and takes us through the fast paced and often unpredictable murder and mayhem that courses like a river out of control through the length of the movie. The psychological dimensions of the film are interesting, as are the accurate looks at what complications and perversions the human heart seems capable of us. If any movie will make you wonder about things that go bump in the night, it is a movie like this wonderful thriller from Director John Schlesinger of people caught in the midst of a maelstrom they don't really understand or know how to deal with. Enjoy!"