Marathon Man (1976)

R | 125 mins | Drama | 8 October 1976

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HISTORY

A 20 May 1974 Publishers Weekly news item announced that filming rights to William Goldman’s novel, Marathon Man, were sold to Paramount Pictures, with Robert Evans and Sidney Beckerman set to produce, and Goldman contracted to write the screenplay. Goldman was to receive $500,000 for the rights and his writing services, as well as “a substantial participation in the profits.” As stated in a 27 Oct 1975 Box item, shooting was set to begin early Oct 1975 with one week in Paris, France, followed by five weeks in New York City, and finishing in Los Angeles, CA, in Jan 1976. However, according to production notes in AMPAS library files, filming did not end until 15 Feb 1976, one day before director John Schlesinger’s fiftieth birthday.
       A 22 Oct 1975 Var brief noted that the foreign locale was originally scripted to take place in London, England, but later changed to Paris, where locations included a flea market, or “marché aux puces,” and the Paris Opera House, as stated in production notes. In New York, filming took place at Central Park, Columbia University, Fulton Fish Market, and the Diamond Center at 47th Street. On two soundstages at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles, a re-creation of a Central Park water treatment facility was built; there, actors Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier filmed their final confrontation. Also in Los Angeles, the University of Southern California served as a double for Columbia University.
       A 29 Dec 1976 New York item reported that the oil truck explosion caused by "Klaus Szell" at the beginning of the film was shot on East 91st Street ... More Less

A 20 May 1974 Publishers Weekly news item announced that filming rights to William Goldman’s novel, Marathon Man, were sold to Paramount Pictures, with Robert Evans and Sidney Beckerman set to produce, and Goldman contracted to write the screenplay. Goldman was to receive $500,000 for the rights and his writing services, as well as “a substantial participation in the profits.” As stated in a 27 Oct 1975 Box item, shooting was set to begin early Oct 1975 with one week in Paris, France, followed by five weeks in New York City, and finishing in Los Angeles, CA, in Jan 1976. However, according to production notes in AMPAS library files, filming did not end until 15 Feb 1976, one day before director John Schlesinger’s fiftieth birthday.
       A 22 Oct 1975 Var brief noted that the foreign locale was originally scripted to take place in London, England, but later changed to Paris, where locations included a flea market, or “marché aux puces,” and the Paris Opera House, as stated in production notes. In New York, filming took place at Central Park, Columbia University, Fulton Fish Market, and the Diamond Center at 47th Street. On two soundstages at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles, a re-creation of a Central Park water treatment facility was built; there, actors Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier filmed their final confrontation. Also in Los Angeles, the University of Southern California served as a double for Columbia University.
       A 29 Dec 1976 New York item reported that the oil truck explosion caused by "Klaus Szell" at the beginning of the film was shot on East 91st Street in New York City. According to a 1 Jun 1977 Var news item, John and Cleopatra Flessas, a couple who lived on East 92nd Street, later sued the production for $85,000, claiming that the smoke and fumes from the 31 Oct 1975 staged explosion had caused them permanent respiratory damage. The outcome of the lawsuit could not be determined as of the writing of this Note.
       Critical reception was mixed. While the 29 Sep 1976 DV review criticized the film as overly long and boring, and a more positive review by Vincent Canby in the 7 Oct 1976 NYT lauded the filmmaking and performances while acknowledging that the confusing narrative’s “double-, triple-, and quadruple crosses…finally cancel themselves out,” Arthur Knight of the 29 Sep 1976 HR praised every aspect of the film, deeming it “superior movie making, period.”
       For his role as “Szell,” Laurence Olivier received a Golden Globe Award for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture,” and an Academy Award nomination for “Actor in a Supporting Role.” The Golden Globes also nominated Marathon Man for awards in the following categories: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama (Dustin Hoffman); Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Marthe Keller); Best Director – Motion Picture; and Best Screenplay – Motion Picture. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) nominated Dustin Hoffman for “Best Actor,” and Jim Clark for “Best Film Editing.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
27 Oct 1975.
---
Daily Variety
6 Jan 1976.
---
Daily Variety
29 Sep 1976
pp. 3-4.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Sep 1976
p. 2, 11.
Los Angeles Times
3 Oct 1976
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
8 Oct 1976.
---
New York
29 Dec 1976
p. 60.
New York Times
7 Oct 1976
p. 62.
Publishers Weekly
20 May 1974.
---
Variety
22 Oct 1975.
---
Variety
29 Sep 1976
p. 30.
Variety
1 Jun 1977.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Robert Evans/Sidney Beckerman Production
A John Schlesinger Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Unit prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Spec photog
Cam op
Asst cam
2d asst cam
Best boy
Key grip
2d company grip
Dolly grip
Grip
Stills
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Assoc film ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Lead man
Swing gang
COSTUMES
Cost des
Roy Scheider's clothes
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Mus ed
Orch
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom man
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Title des
MAKEUP
Spec make-up consultant
Make-up artist
Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Asst to the prods
Casting
Casting
New York casting
New York casting
AFI observer
Services by
Loc mgr
Prod mgr, Studio features
Production, Studio
Production, Studio
Prod office coord
Prod asst
Secy to prods
Secy to prods
Secy to prods
Secy to exec prod
Secy to dir
Craft service
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stand-in
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Marathon Man by William Goldman (New York, 1974).
SONGS
"Dors, ô cité perverse" from 'Herodiade' by Massenet, sung by Joseph Rouleau with the Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra, conducted by John Matheson, courtesy of London and Decca Records
"Der Neugierige," by Franz Schubert, sung by Fritz Wunderlich, used by arrangement with Polydor Inc.
"Le Tram," music by C. Mougeot.
DETAILS
Release Date:
8 October 1976
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 7 October 1976
Los Angeles opening: 8 October 1976 at Mann's Chinese Theater, the Village Theater, and La Mirada Drive-In
Production Date:
early October 1975--mid February 1976 in Paris, New York City, and Los Angeles
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Color by Metrocolor
Lenses/Prints
Filmed with Panavision® equipment
Duration(in mins):
125
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
24461
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, Thomas Babbington “Babe” Levy, a Columbia University graduate student, runs in New York City’s Central Park. Elsewhere, after removing a Band-aid tin from a security deposit box at a bank, an older German man hands off the tin to a passerby on the street. Driving home, he has a heated argument with another driver, and both cars run into an oil truck, causing an explosion. Later that day, Babe sees a news report about the accident, in which the German man is identified as Klaus Szell, the brother of infamous Nazi, Christian Szell, who was presumed dead after World War II. In a hotel room in Paris, France, a valet attempts to deliver a suit that does not belong to the room’s occupant, Doc Levy. On a phone call to his friend “Janey,” Doc worries that someone besides Janey might know he is there. Doc becomes more suspicious after he delivers a package to LeClerc, a French antique dealer, and detects that LeClerc is surprised to see him. However, LeClerc denies it and promises to have a package for Doc that night at the opera. When Doc leaves in a taxi, a bomb explodes nearby. After showing up late to a seminar, Babe speaks to Professor Biesenthal about his dissertation on the use of tyranny in American political life. Biesenthal says he was once a mentee to Babe’s father, H. V. Levy., and tells Babe that McCarthyism will have to be a focus of his dissertation, even if it was the force that brought his father down, prompting Babe to remember his father’s suicide. Back in Paris, Doc meets his colleague, Peter ... +


On the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, Thomas Babbington “Babe” Levy, a Columbia University graduate student, runs in New York City’s Central Park. Elsewhere, after removing a Band-aid tin from a security deposit box at a bank, an older German man hands off the tin to a passerby on the street. Driving home, he has a heated argument with another driver, and both cars run into an oil truck, causing an explosion. Later that day, Babe sees a news report about the accident, in which the German man is identified as Klaus Szell, the brother of infamous Nazi, Christian Szell, who was presumed dead after World War II. In a hotel room in Paris, France, a valet attempts to deliver a suit that does not belong to the room’s occupant, Doc Levy. On a phone call to his friend “Janey,” Doc worries that someone besides Janey might know he is there. Doc becomes more suspicious after he delivers a package to LeClerc, a French antique dealer, and detects that LeClerc is surprised to see him. However, LeClerc denies it and promises to have a package for Doc that night at the opera. When Doc leaves in a taxi, a bomb explodes nearby. After showing up late to a seminar, Babe speaks to Professor Biesenthal about his dissertation on the use of tyranny in American political life. Biesenthal says he was once a mentee to Babe’s father, H. V. Levy., and tells Babe that McCarthyism will have to be a focus of his dissertation, even if it was the force that brought his father down, prompting Babe to remember his father’s suicide. Back in Paris, Doc meets his colleague, Peter Janeway, aka “Janey,” for lunch, and announces that someone is trying to kill him. That night, at the opera, Doc finds LeClerc dead and runs away. The next morning, Chen, an assassin, tries to strangle Doc in his hotel room, but Doc overpowers the man and breaks his neck. Doc learns from Janeway that Klaus Szell has died, and deduces that the attack by Chen must be related, saying that they are “getting rid of the couriers.” Meanwhile, Babe meets an attractive girl named Elsa Opel at the library and follows her home. Despite Elsa’s insistence that their relationship cannot go anywhere, she agrees to a date. Sometime later, Babe and Elsa are robbed by two well-dressed muggers in Central Park. On a flight from Uruguay to New York City, Christian Szell disguises himself by shaving the top of his head bald. As Szell’s airplane lands in New York, Karl and Erhard, the men who robbed Babe, are there to meet him. Doc, who is Babe’s older brother, shows up at Babe’s apartment and becomes suspicious when he hears that Babe was robbed by men in suits. Babe asks Doc to take a look at some interviews he has conducted with his father’s old colleagues, but Doc yells at him to forget their father, saying he was a suicidal drunk. The next day, Doc takes Babe and Elsa to lunch, and Babe nervously watches as Doc flirts with Elsa. Catching Elsa in a lie, Doc accuses her of being German instead of Swiss, and suggests she is after Babe for a green card. That night, at a secret rendezvous, Szell admits to Doc that Elsa has been spying on Babe, then stabs Doc in the abdomen. Doc stumbles to Babe’s apartment, bleeding to death, but dies before he can deliver a warning about Szell. Janeway arrives at Babe’s apartment, where police officers address him as commander. Sending the others away, Janeway tells Babe that he suspects Doc’s murder was “political,” having to do with Doc’s line of business. Although Babe believed his brother worked in the oil industry, Janeway reveals that he was an employee of a secret government agency called “The Division.” Later that night, after Janeway has left, Karl and Erhard break into Babe’s apartment, kidnap him, and take him to a secret location. There, Babe is tied to a chair in a sparse room and joined by Szell, who arrives with a set of dental instruments. Szell asks Babe multiple times, “Is it safe?” After Babe responds that he has no idea what Szell is talking about, Szell examines Babe’s teeth with a metal scraper and asks again, “Is it safe?” Babe doesn’t answer, and Szell tortures him with the dental instrument. Later, when Karl moves Babe to another room, Janeway appears and stabs Karl to death. Shooting Erhard as they escape, Janeway takes Babe to his waiting car and drives away, explaining that Karl and Erhard were associated with Szell, the wealthiest and most wanted Nazi alive. He says Szell was a dentist who made money bribing Jewish prisoners for release from Auschwitz, and later invested in gold and diamonds that had been hidden in New York in a safety deposit box. Janeway says that Szell was after Babe because Doc was a courier who transported diamonds to Paris for Szell in exchange for Szell’s cooperation with the Division as an informant. Becoming stern, Janeway orders Babe to confess what Doc has told him about the diamonds, but Babe claims ignorance. Janeway stops the car, and Karl and Erhard approach from outside. Stupefied, Babe cries out that Janeway already killed Karl and Erhard but Janeway admits to using a fake knife and blanks in his gun. Back in Szell’s hideout, Janeway informs Szell that Babe knows nothing, but Szell insists he cannot risk it. In another torture session, Szell wields an electric drill and tells Babe there must be a reason Doc went to his apartment. After Szell drills into one of Babe’s teeth, he determines that Babe knows nothing. Meanwhile, Janeway calls Szell a useless relic and informs him that he must leave the country the next day. When Karl and Erhard force Babe into another car, Babe manages to break away. Using his distance running skills, he outruns Janeway, who hops into Karl and Erhard’s car and directs them toward the highway ramp where Babe has run. Babe jumps from one ramp to another, and an automobile accident stops Janeway’s crew from pursuing him further. Exchanging the Rolex watch that Doc gave him for a taxi ride back to his block, Babe calls Elsa from a payphone and arranges to meet her, then sneaks into a building across the street from his apartment, aware that his building is being watched. In the other apartment building, Babe asks Melendez, a loose acquaintance, to rob his apartment and take his father’s old gun, stashed inside a desk drawer. Melendez agrees, and later breaks into Babe’s apartment with a crew of several men. As Janeway appears and draws a gun, five of Melendez’s men draw their own guns and continue with the robbery. Retrieving the gun from Melendez, Babe meets Elsa and she drives them to a country house. Upon arrival, Babe is suspicious and asks if the house belongs to Szell and if Janeway is inside. Elsa finally admits that Janeway is coming soon and confesses to working as a courier for Szell. When Janeway arrives with Karl and Erhard, Babe holds Elsa hostage, but allows the men to come inside. In the living room, Karl draws his gun unexpectedly and Janeway tries to stop him, but Babe shoots Karl first. Janeway shoots Erhard and Elsa before dropping his own gun, then tells Babe the location of the bank where Szell’s safety deposit box is located. Elsa urges Babe to leave, but as he walks out of the house, Janeway retrieves his gun, shoots Elsa again, and aims at Babe through the window. Babe shoots Janeway first, however, killing him. In Manhattan’s jewelry district, Szell goes to various appraisers to learn the market value of diamonds, but is recognized by one of the appraisers who is a Holocaust survivor. Running away, Szell is recognized on the street by an old lady, another Holocaust survivor, who yells for people to stop him. When the appraiser catches up to him, Szell slits the man’s throat with a switchblade and takes a taxi to his bank. Opening the security deposit box, Szell rejoices at the sight of his massive diamond collection. Leaving the bank with his briefcase full of diamonds, Szell is accosted by Babe, who leads him, at gunpoint, to a water treatment facility in Central Park. There, Babe grabs a handful of diamonds and throws them into the air, telling Szell that he can keep as many diamonds as he can swallow. After swallowing a few, Szell refuses to continue and orders him to shoot. Babe remains frozen, and Szell eventually knocks the gun out of his hand, approaching him with the switchblade. Babe grabs the briefcase and throws it down a set of stairs. Lunging after the diamonds, Szell falls down and accidentally stabs himself, dropping dead into the water. Outside, Babe throws his father’s gun into a lake. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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