Exciting story about a young student and marathon runner, cruelly pursued by a brutal ex- Nazi
This pursuit-thriller concerns about previous aging Nazi Dr. Szell(Laurence Olivier), a Joseph Mengele-alike, an arch-nasty denominated the 'White Angel of Auschwitz', he has an insidious scheme to get a priceless diamonds and he will not stop at nothing . A graduate history student named Babe(a superb Dustin Hoffman) and expert runner in N.Y. is drawn into a criminal whirlpool. He becomes unwittingly involved to sadistic Nazi, along with his brother(Roy Scheider) an his European fiancée(Marthe Keller). Meanwhile, Babe is pursued by the Szell's hoodlums(Richard Bright, Mark Lawrence). He's helped by a secret agent(William Devane) from an organization called 'the Division' which also belongs his brother and whose members start to be killed one by one. Szell has a diamonds treasure hidden into a safety box and is aware which 'the runner' knows whether or no it is safe to go to pick it up.
This exciting movie packs noisy action, thrills, chills,love story, betrayal and is quite entertaining. This intense thriller that holds your interest throughout, certainly is worth watch seeing for Olivier's brilliant, credible performance as repellent and murderous villain, including one of the creepiest scenes of tortures ever made. Interesting movie but with some holes and gaps and ridiculous scenes , as the silly chase at the beginning when the brother of the infamous Nazi war criminal undergoes a race cars causing a collision course, as at the ending when the Doctor Szell is unbelievable recognized by people here and there. Suspenseful musical score by Michael Small and adequate cinematography by Conrad L. Hall. The motion picture is well directed by Englishman John Schelesinger. He's a dramas(Far from the madding crowd,Day of Locust, Yanks, Midnight cowboy) expert and suspense(Believers, eye for eye, The innocents, Falcon and snowman)movies.
Reviewed by Tweekums9 / 10
A gritty '70s thriller
As this '70s thriller opens two elderly drivers get into an argument on a New York street; one is Jewish the other is a German who clearly has Nazi views. This leads to what would now be called 'road rage' and a crash that kills both men. It turns out the German is the brother of a presumed dead war criminal Christian Szell. This event will ultimately have a serious effect on Thomas Babington "Babe" Levy; a PhD student with no obvious connection to either man.
Babe is a post graduate student in New York where he meets, and gets involved with, Elsa Opel, who claims to be from Switzerland. One day as they walk through central park they are attacked by two unlikely muggers... middle aged men in suits. Meanwhile Babe's brother 'Doc', who Babe thinks is an oil executive, is in Paris working for a shadowy government agency that has been working with Szell. After his brother's death Szell is worried that his ill-gotten fortune in diamonds might not be safe... anybody he suspects could threaten that fortune is certainly in danger and that includes Babe.
This is a superior thriller which never treats its audience as idiots. For much of the film connections are far from obvious; things happen and we aren't told why. Then as the connections are exposed everything starts to make sense. Dustin Hoffman is impressive as Babe, the innocent caught up in events he doesn't understand; Roy Scheider is equally solid as "Doc" and Laurence Olivier is genuinely menacing as Dr Christian Szell... the dentist-torture scene is one that viewers will never forget. While the film isn't excessively violent there are a few shocking moments. These moments are justified to establish the dangers and nature of certain characters. The action is shot in a fairly matter-of-fact way which makes it feel more real than exciting. Overall I'd definitely recommend this to fans of gritty '70s thrillers.
Reviewed by bkoganbing6 / 10
Diamonds are a Nazi's best friend
Two generations of acting styles come together in Marathon Man. Dustin Hoffman plays a most reluctant hero a young pacifist graduate student at Columbia University who is a distance runner. He gets way over his head with an arch Nazi war criminal Laurence Olivier who did not drag out his patented Mittel-Europa accent. Instead he spoke a most precise English for the role, just like a foreigner having to learn the tongue.
His brother Roy Scheider is supposed to be in the oil business. Their father was a victim of the McCarthy Era blacklist who killed himself. Scheider actually works for a branch of the CIA, no doubt as Hoffman says the father would disapprove. I'm wondering how he got clearance.
A whole bunch of people from that section are dying and when Scheider dies Hoffman goes into action not knowing who to trust. But he's lucky, very lucky.
Olivier who has been living in South America in seclusion is forced to come to America to get his fortune in diamonds in a safety deposit vault. He's forced to do this after his brother is killed in a traffic accident right at the beginning of the film. Olivier's Dr. Szell is as terrifying a villain as his Richard III. It's what got him an Oscar nomination his only one in the Supporting Actor category.
Marathon Man has a lot of holes in the story, but the acting between Hoffman and Olivier is not to be missed.