Marathon Man

Released 1976


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Movie Summary

John Schlesinger
Marathon Man is a 1976 suspense thriller starring Academy Award winners Dustin Hoffman and Sir Laurence Olivier. Directed by John Schlesinger and based on the book of the same name by William Goldman, the movie co-stars Roy Scheider, Marthe Keller and William Devane. Thomas "Babe" Levy (Dustin Hoffman) is a history Ph.D. candidate at Columbia and an avid runner researching the same field as his father, who committed suicide after being investigated during the Joseph McCarthy era. Babe's brother, Henry (Roy Scheider), better known as "Doc," poses as an oil company executive, but is actually a U.S. government operative working for a covert agency headed by Director Peter Janeway (William Devane). After the brother of a Nazi war criminal is killed in a car accident, Doc suspects that the Nazi criminal, Dr. Christian Szell (Laurence Olivier), will be arriving in New York to retrieve a cache of priceless diamonds. Meanwhile, Babe has entered into a romantic relationship with a young woman named Elsa Opel (Marthe Keller), who claims to be from Switzerland. When Doc takes Babe and Elsa to lunch, he tricks Elsa into revealing that she has been lying to Babe about her background. Doc suspects that Elsa is somehow connected to Szell. After Doc is brutally murdered by Szell, Babe finds himself involved in a deadly cat and mouse game with the evil Nazi, and his very life hangs in the balance. Marathon Man is noted for its famous torture scene set in a dentist's office and featuring a battle of wills between Hoffman and Olivier.moreless


Metacritic Score

  • 80

    Empire Ian Nathan

    The only movie to truly deliver the visceral power of a dental drill, John Schlesinger's taut, well written if far-fetched and baffling thriller, is the film that gives you a tooth...

  • 75

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    If holes in plots bother you, Marathon Man will be maddening. But as well-crafted escapist entertainment, as a diabolical thriller, the movie works with relentless skill.

  • 70

    Time Out

    Adapted by William Goldman from his own novel, this thriller is quite effective in its basic set pieces, even if the overall thrust seems a trifle ponderous.

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Crime, Thrillers