Marathon Man (1976)

marathongDirector: John Schlesinger

Writer: William Goldman (Screenplay)

Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier, Roy Schieder, William Devane, Marthe Keller, Fritz Weaver, Richard Bright


Plot: A graduate history student is unwittingly caught in the middle of an international conspiracy involving stolen diamonds, an exiled Nazi war criminal, and a rogue government agent.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: True Thriller


Story: Marathon Man starts as we see infamous Nazi criminal living in New York involved in a car accident even though he has long been thought dead, we go on to meet student Babe (Hoffman) who spends his time studying and running. We go on to meet Doc (Scheider) who is on a government mission working for Janeway (Devane).

The story takes a twist when we learn that Doc is the big brother of Babe but his mission brings the Szell (Olivier) back to New York and a reunion of brother’s brings us into a position where Babe can learn the truth about his brother.

Babe finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy where it is his own brother that drags him into the mess and he has to deal with the consequences and threat that Szell offers.

Marathon Man is a crime thriller that mixes our innocent everyday student into a world of international war criminals and a diamond heist. All of these elements come into the film to work perfectly to create the tension and twists needed for the style of the film. There really won’t be much else to say fresh that people haven’t already said about this film.


Actor Review


Dustin Hoffman: Babe is just a student living in New York City, he meets a girl while dreaming of being able to take part in a marathon. When his brother returns Babe finds himself being tortured by Szell for information. Dustin is great in this leading role having to deal with just not knowing anything throughout.

Laurence Olivier: Szell is a former Nazi war criminal that has information on all the hiding war criminals but when his brother dies he wants his diamonds back and he will do anything to get them back using all of his torture techniques on Babe. Laurence is deadly calm while being equally terrifying throughout.

Roy Scheider: Doc is a secret agent dealing with all the problems the rest of the government don’t want to get involved in. He is the big brother to Babe and his latest mission leaves him brother’s life at risk. Roy is good in what comes off like a cocky James Bond like figure.

William Devane: Janeway is the partner of Doc working on his latest job but when we learn his true colours we get an extra person for Babe to dodge for his freedom. William is good in this role where we get to see this corrupt character running through the film.

Support Cast: Marathon Man has a supporting cast which does includes Elsa the love interest of Babe while the rest are just henchmen. The smaller cast helps the film focus on our main characters more.

Director Review: John SchlesingerJohn gives us a tension filled thriller that plays on paranoia as well as the idea of not knowing the truth about one’s own family


Crime: Marathon Man puts us into the middle of a crime world where international war criminals are trying to get freedom.

Thriller: Marathon Man keeps us on throughout the film as we see the innocent Babe try to outsmart the criminals.

Settings: Marathon Man keeps most of the settings very simple not taking away from the performances of the actors in the process.
Special Effects
: Marathon Man has good practical effects when needed for the kills and fights.

Suggestion: Marathon Man is one I do think everyone should see at least once because it shows how to make a real thriller. (Watch)


Best Part: Hoffman’s character shows real development unlike most thrillers.

Worst Part: You may not want to attend the dentist for a while.


Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: Nominated for Best Supporting Actor

Budget: $6.5 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 5 Minutes


Overall: One of the best tension filled thrillers ever put to film.





2 comments on “Marathon Man (1976)

  1. Brilliant movie. Works as both intelligent adult paranoid thriller, and slice of modern Nazi spy pulp action. William Goldman’s comments on adapting his own story in Adventures in Screen Trade book (I think?) are pretty great background reading.

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