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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Marathon Man [Blu-ray]


(John Schlesinger, 1976)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Paramount Pictures

Video: Paramount



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:05:23.849 

Disc Size: 32,968,044,038 bytes

Feature Size: 29,070,286,848 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.94 Mbps

Chapters: 50

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 10th, 2013



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 2622 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2622 kbps / 24-bit (DTS
Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio French 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB



English (SDH), French, Spanish, none



• Behind the Scenes: The Magic of Hollywood is the Magic of People (21:15)

• Behind the Scenes: Going the Distance - Remembering Marathon Man (29:07)

Behind the Scenes: Rehearsal Footage (21:06)

Trailer (2:52)





Description: Doc Levy (Roy Scheider) is an American secret agent who has been running interference between the U.S. government and escaped Nazi war criminal Szell (Laurence Olivier). Believing that Doc has stolen a valuable cache of gems, Szell emerges from his South American hiding place and heads for New York. He has Doc killed, then kidnaps Doc's in-the-dark brother, Babe (Dustin Hoffman). Repeating the phrase "Is it safe?" over and over, Szell, a onetime concentration camp dentist, tries to extract information from Babe by performing sadistic "oral surgery" upon him. Babe, who still doesn't know about the gems, escapes, breaking his own self-imposed rule of non-violence to defend himself against his pursuers and gearing up for sadistic revenge.



The Film:

Adapted by William Goldman from his own novel, this thriller is quite effective in its basic set pieces, even if the overall thrust seems a trifle ponderous. Hoffman plays a graduate student catapulted into a confrontation with grim former concentration camp Jew-killer Szell (Olivier, giving a rather circumscribed if impeccable performance). The pointlessly obscure construction and numerous loose ends make the triviality of the plot all the more annoying, and Schlesinger should have resisted the grossly over-used Central Park locations. Best moment is a compelling night sequence centering on the use of dentistry as a grisly method of torture.

Excerpt from Timeout located HERE

One of the '70's most memorable contributions to the suspense genre, Marathon Man (1976) is notable on many levels. The film brought together two of the leading exponents of screen acting for their respective generations--Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier--to combine their talents for a taut and solid thriller. Directed at a breathless clip by British veteran John Schlesinger, the film boasted some of the most harrowing sequences committed to celluloid at its time, and they have lost none of their power over the subsequent years.


William Goldman's riveting screen adaptation of his own novel introduces us to Thomas "Babe" Levy (Hoffman), a driven Columbia grad student whose every waking moment seems spent finding some way to exorcise the demons of his past. When not steeped in pursuit of the dissertation that he believes will vindicate the memory of his father, a professor pushed to suicide after being targeted in the McCarthy witch hunts, he's donning his track gear and pushing himself to exhaustion in preparation for the Olympic marathon.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Marathon Man, impossibly approaching 40-years old, goes Blu-ray from Paramount.  The image quality shows some grit and minor grain and typical of a Schlesinger film shows some roughness adding realism as opposed to pristine crispness. The transfer is dual-layered with a supportive bitrate for the 2-hour film. Colors seem true (skin tones coolish) if a shade dull and contrast exhibits healthy black levels. Daylight scenes are more impressive but nothing is overly dark and there is no noise or distracting artefacts. This Blu-ray visuals are fairly consistent with only the black and white Olympic footage of Ethiopian Abebe Bikila running shoeless through the streets of Rome standing out as 'different'. There are hints of depth and solid detail in close-ups. Generally this looks about as competent as I was anticipating. A good video HD for an impressive film.



















Audio :

The audio is exported in a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at 2622 kbps. For such a thriller there are surprisingly few separations but the lossless does carry some decent bass. This is notable in the tense, and at times chilling, score by Michael Small (Portrait of a Downfall Child, Child's Play, Night Moves, The Driver). There is a Dolby 2.0 channel and foreign language DUBs as well as optional subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Extras :

Supplements include three, previously put on the old DVD, 1.33:1 production featurettes; Behind the Scenes: The Magic of Hollywood is the Magic of People, Behind the Scenes: Going the Distance - Remembering Marathon Man and Behind the Scenes: Rehearsal Footage each running about 20-minutes giving us over an hour's worth of Dustin Hoffman, writer William Goldman, producer Robert Evans, Roy Scheider and Marthe Keller supplying tidbits. There is also a trailer.

NOTE: Friso tells us: "Buyers outside region A beware. Only the US release carries the extra features. Even though Paramount also distributes this title in other regions, and the dvd had extra's, the blu-ray doesn't have them. I can confirm this for the UK and German blu-ray. So if you want it all, get the US blu."



Marathon Man continues to hold up as excellent entertainment and a nail-biting thriller. John Schlesinger films are so well-crafted and combine that with William Goldman's screenplay (from his own novel) and Olivier's ruthless Dr. Christian Szell (Mengele representation as
'Der weisse Engel') and you have a film that s worth multiple repeat viewings. The Blu-ray does a good job of rising the a/v for home theatre appreciation! This will be revisited often - absolutely recommened! 

Gary Tooze

September 25th, 2013


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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