"Life can be that simple – relief, discomfort. Now which of these I next apply, that decision is in your hands. So... take your time and tell me... is it safe?"
In 1976, John Schlesinger made a film adaptation of William Goldman’s novel Marathon Man, and in the process, made everyone afraid to go back to their dentist. There are few things more horrifying than watching Laurence Olivier’s Nazi dentist drill into Dustin Hoffman’s teeth (the healthy ones because it’ll hurt more, naturally). Join us — Pete Wright and Andy Nelson — as we start a new series digging into great films from 1976, a great year for cinema, and we start it off with Marathon Man.
We chat about the tonal shift in films in the 70s (and mention the great documentary about 70s films, A Decade Under the Influence), and how that change affects this thriller. We discuss the nature of a world in crisis, where this film’s world is after WWII, the psychology of people as passive witnesses, and the nature of paranoia itself and how all of these themes play important parts in the film. We chat about Hoffman, Roy Scheider (our favorite 70s actor), Olivier, Bill Devane, and Marthe Keller in the film, and examine what they bring to their performances, particularly in this grittier period of filmmaking. And we talk about the famous torture scene and how it holds up by today’s standards. We’re thrilled to be talking about 1976 and have a great conversation about this film. Check it out and tune in!
- Original Script — transcript
- Original theatrical trailer
- Original poster artwork
- “Marathon Man” by William Goldman
Assorted Notes & Links
- The Purge — trailer
- A Place at the Table — trailer
- A Decade Under the Influence: The 70s Films That Changed Everything
- Roger Ebert’s Chicago Sun-Times Obituary