Although it's an atypical John Schlesinger film, the opening sequence showcases the director at his best. An elderly German man removes a metal band-aid box from a safety deposit box and slips it discreetly to another man. As he drives away in his Mercedes, the German has a run-in with a Jewish man that escalates quickly from a shouting match to a dangerous car chase along the narrow confines of New York city streets. The conflict ends when the two men crash their cars into a fuel truck--the safety deposit key falling to the asphalt as flames engulf it.
|Hoffman as the graduate...student.|
Hence, it seems a bit odd when a pretty Swiss student (Marthe Keller) responds to Babe's awkward advances. When Doc--the sharp-dressed opposite of his brother--meets Babe's girlfriend, he immediately spots a fraud. But then, nothing is as it seems in Marathon Man and that includes Doc, too.
The most interesting aspect of Marathon Man is that Hoffman seems to be playing an older version of Ben Braddock from The Graduate (1967). Perhaps, this is what happened to Ben when things didn't work out with Elaine after their escape on the bus! (I never expected the couple to find true happiness, did you?) And, of course, the obvious irony is that Hoffman is a playing a graduate in one film and a grad student in the other.
|Laurence Olivier as the villain.|
Roy Scheider, one of the 1970s most reliable leading men, excelled in playing edgy roles (The French Connection, Sorcerer, All That Jazz). He makes Doc the film's most interesting character--a sleek professional who is willing to help war criminals for the right price, but also an affectionate brother to the socially-challenged Babe.
|The well-dressed Scheider.|
I rarely mention continuity gaffes in movies because...well...anyone can make a mistake. However, I was amused by Babe's changing footwear during his kidnap scene. He appears to be barefoot when initially nabbed. Later, I could swear he's wearing socks. Finally, when he escapes and is running away from the baddies, he sports shoes on his feet. Maybe I just missed the scene where he finds his shoes. Or maybe he's just not as tough as some of those Olympic athletes that run in their bare feet.