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Gritty Schlesinger NYC thriller debuts on UHD 4.5 Stars

Beginning his career in the 1950’s as an actor, John Schlesinger quickly became a director in the same decade before achieving acclaim in the 1960’s with films like Billy Liar (1963), Darling (1965) and Far From the Madding Crowd (1967) in his native Britain. Following his Oscar winning debut in America – Midnight Cowboy (1969) – Schlesinger’s films in the 1970’s focused on the down and out and those outside the mainstream world, of which Marathon Man was among the eclectic group of movies he made during the decade. Previously released on DVD and Blu-ray by Paramount, Kino has licensed the movie for its UHD Blu-ray debut.

Marathon Man (1976)
Released: 08 Oct 1976
Rated: R
Runtime: 125 min
Director: John Schlesinger
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier, Roy Scheider
Writer(s): William Goldman
Plot: After the shocking murder of his older brother, a New York history student finds himself inexplicably hounded by shadowy government agents on the trail of a Nazi war criminal who is trying to retrieve smuggled diamonds.
IMDB rating: 7.4
MetaScore: 64

Disc Information
Studio: Paramount
Distributed By: Kino Lorber
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: R
Run Time: 2 Hr. 5 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray
Case Type: Black keep case with slipcover
Disc Type: UHD
Region: A
Release Date: 02/28/2023
MSRP: $39.95

The Production: 4/5

“Is it safe?”

Graduate student Thomas “Babe” Levy (Dustin Hoffman) is busy following the footsteps of his late father in the same research field at a New York City university. Christian Szell (Laurence Olivier) is a notorious Nazi living in seclusion in South America until the death of his brother in New York City pulls him out of hiding to retrieve a valuable stash of diamonds held in a safe deposit box. Both men don’t know each other, when their paths cross, it triggers a wave of death, deception, torture and betrayal that leads up to a final confrontation in a Central Park water system that tests how far both are willing to go to accomplish their respective missions – Szell wanting his diamonds, Babe wanting to avenge the death of his brother (Roy Scheider) at Szell’s hands.

One of the more tense and gritty thrillers of the 1970’s, Marathon Man has gone the distance to become one of John Schlesinger’s best works as a director. Returning to New York City – the setting of his Oscar-winning triumph Midnight Cowboy – Schlesinger utilizes the city’s gritty nature to enhance the atmosphere of the film; William Goldman – adapting from his own novel with an uncredited assist from Robert Towne – keeps the story’s heart and soul (how far one is willing to go when faced with an unthinkable choice as well as the shift in locations of power personally) intact as well. The film also greatly benefits from the contributions of cinematographer Conrad L. Hall, composer Michael Small and film editor Jim Clark for maintaining the tension and atmosphere throughout the film’s running time; whether or not you enjoy the film will depend on your tolerance to some of the violence portrayed in keeping with the film’s story. Overall, Marathon Man is still one of the 1970’s most captivating and unrelenting thrillers that much in keeping with the disillusionment of the decade and a high point for many of the cast and crew involved here.

Reuniting with John Schlesinger – who directed him to an Oscar-nominated performance in Midnight Cowboy (1969) – Dustin Hoffman has one of his best underrated performances of his career as Babe; the 1970’s would end on a high point for him with his first Oscar for his performance in Kramer vs. Kramer (1979). Overcoming health problems – and avoiding being recast with Richard Widmark – Laurence Olivier gives one of his best late career performances (as well as earning an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor) as the villainous Christian Szell; he would earn his last Oscar nomination for playing – wait for it – a Nazi hunter in Franklin J. Schaffner’s The Boys from Brazil (1978). Roy Scheider brings solid support as Babe’s ill-fated older brother Henry while William Devane is equally solid as the head of a secretive government agency that plays both sides; making her American film debut here, Marthe Keller earned a Golden Globe nomination for playing Elsa, Babe’s girlfriend with some secrets of her own. Rounding out the cast here are Fritz Weaver – in what is essentially a walk-on cameo part – as Professor Biesenthal, Richard Bright and Marc Lawrence as Szell’s thugs in NYC, Tito Goya as Babe’s neighbor Melendez (who helps him in a crucial moment), Ben Dova as Szell’s brother – whose death ignites the story, no pun intended – and Jacques Marin as LeClerc, one of Henry’s contacts in Paris who ends up silenced in the middle of a performance of a French opera.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

This UHD Blu-ray release presents the movie in its original 1:85:1 aspect ratio, taken from a brand new Dolby Vision/HDR master taken from a 4K scan of the original 35mm camera negative; the UHD Blu-ray presents the film in HDR while the accompanying Blu-ray – also taken from the same new HD master created for this release – presents the film in SDR. Film grain, color palette and fine details appear to be faithfully represented with only minor cases of scratches, dirt and tears present. Overall, this release likely represents the best the movie will ever look on home video, best all previous DVD and Blu-ray releases.

Audio: 5/5

There are two audio options on this release: a lossless 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio track and a 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio track. Both tracks showcase a strong and faithful presentation of dialogue, sound mix and Michael Small’s jagged and suspenseful music score with only minor cases of crackling, popping and hissing present. This release is also likely the best the movie will ever sound on home video and surpasses the previous DVD and Blu-ray releases.

Special Features: 4/5

On both UHD Blu-ray and Blu-ray discs

Commentary by film historians Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson – Newly recorded for this release, Mitchell and Thompson talk about some of the background behind the making of the movie as well as some of the New York locations used.

On Blu-ray only

The Magic of Hollywood (21:14) – The original 1976 behind the scenes featurette on the movie’s production; featuring interviews with Robert Evans, Dustin Hoffman, Marthe Keller and director John Schlesinger.

Going the Distance: Remembering Marathon Man (29:07) – Carried over from the previous DVD and Blu-ray releases, this 2001 retrospective featurette looks back at the making of the movie; featuring interviews with producer Robert Evans, actors Dustin Hoffman and Roy Scheider, actress Marthe Keller and screenwriter William Goldman.

Rehearsal Footage (21:06)

TV Spots (10) (5:53)

Radio Spots (2) (1:05)

Theatrical Trailer (2:39)

Bonus KLSC Trailers – The Eiger Sanction, The Groundstar Conspiracy, Winter Kills, The Internecine Project, Rosebud, Sudden Terror, Billy Bathgate, Billy Liar, Honky Tonk Freeway & The Falcon and the Snowman

Overall: 4.5/5

A success with both critics and audiences during initial release, Marathon Man is still one of the quintessential thrillers of the 1970’s. Kino has delivered yet another quality release here, with a terrific HD on both UHD and Blu-ray discs while carrying over legacy special features from previous home video releases in addition to the brand new commentary track recorded for this release. Very highly recommended and absolutely worth upgrading from past home video editions.

Amazon.com: Marathon Man (4KUHD) [4K UHD]: John Schlesinger, Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier, Roy Scheider, William Devane: Movies & TV

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View thread (4 replies)
Sep 15, 2022
Real Name
Leland T. Sandersen
You'll never look at your dentist the same way after seeing this flick.
I have yet to meet an actual dentist who admits to have ever even heard of this flick. Are they all just trying to change the subject, or are most dentists dull, uninspiring people without interests?


Senior HTF Member
Jul 17, 2009
Real Name
Nick Dobbs
I have yet to meet an actual dentist who admits to have ever even heard of this flick. Are they all just trying to change the subject, or are most dentists dull, uninspiring people without interests?
Mine loves it. Along with the 90s horror film The Dentist.