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Marathon Man (1976)

Dustin Hoffman , Laurence Olivier , Allan Garden , John Schlesinger  |  R |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (184 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier, Roy Scheider, William Devane, Marthe Keller
  • Directors: Allan Garden, John Schlesinger
  • Writers: Robert Jahn, William Goldman
  • Producers: George Justin, Robert Evans, Sidney Beckerman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: August 28, 2001
  • Run Time: 125 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (184 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005M2CO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,137 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Marathon Man" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Exclusive cast & crew interviews
  • Rehearsal footage
  • "The Magic of Hollywood" - The Making of Marathon Man

Editorial Reviews

Doc Levy (Roy Scheider) is an American secret agent who has been running interference between the US government and escaped Nazi war criminal Szell (Laurence Olivier). Believing that Doc has stolen a valuable cache of gems, Szell emerges from his South American hiding place and heads for New York. He has Doc killed, then kidnaps Doc's in-the-dark brother Babe (Dustin Hoffman). Repeating the phrase "Is it safe?" over and over, Szell, a onetime concentration camp dentist, tries to extract information from Babe by performing sadistic "oral surgery" upon him. Babe, who still doesn't know about the gems, escapes, breaking his own self-imposed rule of nonviolence to defend himself against his pursuers. The fox becomes the hound when Babe overpowers Szell and forces the old man to swallow his valuable diamonds. Marathon Man traces Babe Levy's progression from pacifistic naif to cynical street-smart scrapper.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
71 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They sure don't make them like this anymore August 18, 2001
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.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is It Safe? October 20, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
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.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Race is Not Always to the Swift August 20, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
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.
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34 of 42 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Marathon Man Mockery February 21, 2003
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.
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