Movie Review from Memory: Marathon Man

Prompt: Marathon


Without consulting IMDB, I will now attempt to review the classic thriller, Marathon Man, starring Dustin Hoffman and released, I think, in the 1970s, which many call the Golden Age of Hollywood movies. Think The Godfather, A Clockwork Orange, Chinatown, American Graffiti, The Sting, Blazing Saddles, M*A*S*H*, Straw Dogs, Klute, Apocalypse Now, Star Wars, Jaws, Taxi Driver, Network, Annie Hall, The French Connection, Blazing Saddles, Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Exorcist, Saturday Night Fever, and so many more. (Whatever happened to good, original movies? A question for another time.)

All most people can remember about the film Marathon Man is the torture scene, where Dustin Hoffman’s character is submitted to a dentist’s drill and well— suffice it to say I have a bit of a phobia about going to the dentist.

Is it safe?” I swear I will up and die if my dentist ever utters those words to me at any time and in any context.

Was this movie in black and white? I remember it as such. Dustin Hoffman is the bumbling, humble everyman, who gets into trouble when his spy brother, played by Roy Scheider, is killed while tracking down a Nazi concentration camp doctor, the ever brilliant Lawrence Olivier. This evil, evil character wants to know, I think, if he can safely sell the millions of dollars worth of diamonds that he stole from Holocaust victims.

Dentists, concentration camps, a Dr Mengele character— it all sounds pretty awful, right? But this film is a thriller worth watching, as Dustin Hoffman tries to survive pursuit by the relentless Nazi doctor, and part of this involves running? Yes, thus the title. I remember a magnificent scene which took place in the diamond district of New York City, a predominantly Jewish part of town, where the evil doctor ventures with great trepidation tempered by an insatiable, delicious greed.

Does a Holocaust survivor recognize him and scream at him like the Donald Sutherland character at the end of The Body Snatchers?

You betcha.

Later: I have now checked in with IMDB, and Marathon Man was in colour (I got Giant wrong too), but was indeed made in 1976. Here is the trailer:

And a bit of famous movie trivia about Olivier and Hoffman in Marathon Man:

Dustin Hoffman (being a “method actor”) stayed up all night to play a character who has stayed up all night. Arriving on the set, Lawrence Olivier asked Hoffman why he looked the way he did. Hoffman told him, to which Olivier replied in jest, “Why not try acting? It’s much easier.”

2 thoughts on “Movie Review from Memory: Marathon Man

  1. Pingback: Author Interview – BeaJay McNeice (AKA Bill McNeice) – Contemporary Fantasy Novels and Poetry Anthologies | toofulltowrite (I've started so I'll finish)

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