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Marathon Man (1976)

Director:
John Schlesinger
COUNTRY
USA
GENRE
Thriller
NORWEGIAN TITLE
Maratonmannen
RUNNING TIME
125 minutes
Producer:
Sidney Beckerman
Robert Evans
Screenwriter (based on his novel):
William Goldman


Cast includes:

CHARACTER ACTOR/ACTRESS RATING
Thomas "Babe" Levy Dustin Hoffman
Dr. Christian Szell Laurence Olivier
Henry "Doc" Levy Roy Scheider
Peter Janeway William Devane
Elsa Opel Marthe Keller

 

Review

Marathon Man was widely hailed at the time of release, probably mainly for its determination to rectify and avenge some of the wrongdoings of WWII by letting the great Sir Laurence Olivier embody a dead ringer for Dr. Joseph Mengele, who along with other Nazi veterans were living in hiding in various South American countries at the time. And indeed it was and remains a watchable movie, spun around the classic 1970s paranoid thriller formula which often made films and narratives seem more promising and thought-out than they eventually revealed themselves to be.

As directed by the talented but not exactly visionary John Schlesinger, Marathon Man is a crude film filled with plot distortions and overamplified set pieces, many of which nonetheless work and suck you in. There is particularly one effective scene towards the end in which the antagonist is forced to face his past when recognized on the street. This is one of just a few moments when Olivier's performance comes to full effect and the film is hitting a real nerve (a task which is famously left to Olivier's character in other parts of the film). Both he and Hoffman go to great lengths with their characters, but unfortunately, they're not always getting the help they deserve from the script, which is muddled and inconsistent. To compensate, Schlesinger tries to engage us with blatant and aggressive cuts and scenes, borrowing Peckinpah's violence but not style, but if anything, they do more to accentuate than hide the film's recurring affectation.

 

Copyright 30.6.2011 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang

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