(Review originally written at 22 May 2007)

"Marathon Man" is among the most well known thrillers from the '70's and it's also definitely among the finest of its period. A period of many fine and classic genre movies, of which this movie knows to skillful distinct itself, with some classic moments.

Let's face it, "Marathon Man" shall not be remembered for its story or any such thing. In that regard "Marathon Man" is nothing more than an average simple genre movie. It really are some of the moments in the movie that makes this such a great, classic and unforgettable one.

Of course the dentist scene is the best known one out of this movie but in my opinion basically every sequence in this movie with Laurence Olivier in it is a classic one in my opinion. Such as also the sequence when he gets recognized on the streets of New York by some ex prisoners of a camp he operated in. But nevertheless, yes, it's definitely the dentist scene, that made many people afraid of dentists in real life, that forms the highlight of the movie. The sequences also perfectly embodies how the entire movie is; atmospheric, mysterious, slow, tense and gritty. The sequence is so great because you don't understand what is going on or what the person wants. It makes the torture techniques seem even more cruel and painful to watch.

Not just its moments but also the actors definitely uplift the movie. The movie has Laurence Olivier in his most villainous roles. It's a character that is genuinely scary and he is obviously based on Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. It's typically a role in which less is more. The character doesn't speak much or moves subtly around but his facial expressions always say more than enough and really all credit for this has to go to Laurence Olivier for that. But it doesn't make you forget that there are more great actors in this movie such as of course Dustin Hoffman in the main lead and Roy Scheider, one of the biggest stars of the '70's. It's also one of Hoffman's best known roles and for a good reason. His method actor works out great in the movie and for its story, character and overall atmosphere. What I like about the character is that he really isn't an hero but just an average guy and even a bit of loser that by change gets mixed up into this big dangerous situation. The movie shows us that it could happen to basically everyone of us. It also makes us easy for yourself to identify with the main character of the movie, which in return adds all the more to the suspense and realism of the movie.

The entire movie is build up in a consistent speed and style. The movie does never accelerate, which also helps to give the movie its realistic and gritty look and atmosphere. Despite not being anything special when it comes down to its technical things, it nevertheless is a movie that is skilfully made with the right tools and persons for this type of movie.

Yet another essential '70's viewing.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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