Director: John Schlesinger
Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Roy Scheider & Laurence Olivier
John Schlesinger's 1976 film 'Marathon Man' features one of the simplistic taglines I have ever seen featured on a film poster, ''A Thriller'', that's it, its such a clever use of simplistic irony, because the film is far from being just an average thriller.
An intelligent but tormented graduate history student (Dustin Hoffman) devotes his life to the past and to training for a marathon, but he is about to be catapulted into an international conspiracy centered around a fugitive and sadistic ex Nazi dentist.
Its a terrific thing when a film makes you completely invested in trying to decipher its plot, for the first fifty minutes of 'Marathon Man' is left to themselves to figure out what is taking place on the screen, its so great to see a film that does not condescend to its audience. William Goldman's script, adapted from his own novel, is absolutely fantastic, its so intelligent and so unrelenting that it kept me intrigued aswell as disturbed and enthralled for its entire running time, which is exactly what I want from a thriller.
The film is very well directed by Academy Award winner John Schlesinger, in surprisingly his last film that was a commercial success, he works brilliantly from Goldman's screenplay and is able to bring the excitement from his script and translate it to the screen. Like Goldman, Schlesinger does not back away from strong violence and risky themes, The famous torture scene is still very effective and incredibly haunting, and portraying an ex Nazi, that resembles Joseph Mengele, in a modern film is always going to be a touchy idea, but it only makes the film more effective and gives it a hint of realism.
The cast in this film is phenomenal, another example of why Dustin Hoffman was so damn good throughout the 70's, Hoffman uses his infamous method acting techniques to create yet another realistic and incredible performance that should have earned him another Oscar nomination. Acting legend,Laurence Olivier who portrays "the White Angel" Szell, in yet another impactful and haunting performance in such a great career. The supporting cast is exceptional, Roy Scheider, Marthe Keller & William Devane are all great.
'Marathon Man' is a groundbreaking thriller, its doesn't feature the usual thriller film cliches, and in result is a horrific and disturbing film that is brilliantly made and exceptionally acted.