Marathon Man (film)

novel by William Goldman
(Redirected from Marathon Man)

Marathon Man is a 1976 suspense thriller film about a graduate student and obsessive runner in New York who is drawn into a mysterious plot involving his globe trotting brother, his European girlfriend, and an infamous Nazi war criminal in hiding.

Directed by John Schlesinger. Written by William Goldman, based on his novel of the same name.

Dr. Christian Szell

  • [to Babe] Oh, please don't worry. I'm not going into that cavity. That nerve's already dying. A live, freshly-cut nerve is infinitely more sensitive. So I'll just drill into a healthy tooth until I reach the pulp... unless of course you can tell me that it's safe.
  • [to Babe] You're weak. Your father was weak in his way. Your brother in his, now you in yours. You are all so predictable.
  • [to Janeway] Thus far I find you rather detestable, may I say that without hurting your feelings?


  • Peter Janeway: [to Babe, explaining about the Division] Everything we do cuts both ways!
  • Professor Biesenthal: Well, you four have the dubious honor of having been picked from over two hundred applicants for this seminar. Well, let me just say this. There's a shortage of natural resources. There's a shortage of breathable air, there's even a shortage of adequate claret. But there is no shortage of historians. We grind you out like link sausages. That's called progress. Manufacturing doctorates is called progress. Well, I say, "Let us hush this cry of progress until ten thousand years have passed." That's a quote. Who said that? Come on, who said that? Well, somebody must know the answer [none of the students answer] Tennyson! Alfred, Lord Tennyson. My God, but you can't compete on a doctoral level and not know "Locksley Hall" and "Locksley Hall 60 Years Later"! I hope you all flunk. Dismissed.


Babe: Look, I'm sorry I stole your book.
Elsa: What?
Babe: I took your book and put it underneath mine. I, I didn't know how to talk to you, I was embarrassed, so I took your book.
Elsa: Aren't you embarrassed now?
Babe: Yeah. I'm, I'm humiliated.
Elsa: So, why do you pursue people who sit at your library table?
Babe: I don't. It's just that... you're pretty.
Elsa: Ohh!
[She smiles and turns to walk away from him]
Babe: Well, I can't talk about how smart you are; I don't even know you. Anyway, I'm done lying with you.
Elsa: Are you always so incompetent with women?
Babe: Oh, yes. Today's way above average for me.
Elsa: Congratulations.
[She is still smiling as she unlocks her door to leave him]
Elsa: Good night.
Babe: That's too bad. I could make you so happy. I'm smart as a whip; you won't meet another thief like me in the library again. Come on; why don't you say you'll see me, huh?
Elsa: All right. I'll see you again. But it won't come to anything.
Babe: You can't tell.
Elsa: [wistfully] Yes, I can.
[She shuts her door in his face]

Janeway: Szell's brother's been killed in Manhattan. A collision with an oil truck.
Doc: Oh, boy. Any changes?
Janeway: Only everything.
Doc: They're getting all the couriers.

Doc: [in a fancy restaurant] How could you forget to wear a tie?
Babe: I didn't forget it. Who wears a tie when they eat lunch?
Doc: [to Elsa] Well, at least his fly is buttoned!

Szell: You keep me waiting. Why? To upset me?
Doc: Good evening.
Szell: I'm not one to be mocked, and your behavior—
Doc: Don't give me any static about my behavior, not after what you've been pulling.
Szell: I've done nothing.
Doc: You're going to tell me that Chen acted on his own?
Szell: I don't know what you're talking about.
Doc: I don't mind you hiring him, but my brother for Chrissake's! Did you have to involve him?
Szell: It was nothing.
Doc: It was a violation. We do not involve family. We never involve family.
Szell: Think of it as a warning. Nothing more.
[Doc slaps Szell. Szell shouts in pain and collapses. His two associates come to Szell's aid]
Doc: Think of that as a warning and nothing more.
Szell: You would like to fight, wouldn't you? It will not happen. I'm much too old and far too smart for that. [He gets up] But we... must talk truthfully. Are you to be trusted?
Doc: No.
Szell: Is that the truth? Or are you trying again to upset me?
Doc: I know that you're going to the bank sooner or later.
Szell: Perhaps I've already been.
Doc: If you had, you wouldn't be here talking to me, would you?
Szell: And what else do you know?
Doc: I know that you're panicking. You think when you leave the bank, someone's gonna rob you.
Szell: Who would do such a thing?
Doc: Obviously, you think I would.
Szell: Well? Can I trust you?
Doc: You never could. You only had to.
Szell: We're talking of my safety.
Doc: May I be candid?
Szell: Yes.
Doc: I couldn't give a fuck about your—
[Szell stabs Doc with a push dagger hidden in his sleeve, and Doc gasps. Szell takes the knife out of Doc and leaves with his men while Doc collapses]

[Szell comes into the room. He pats Babe on the shoulder and walks to the sink]
Szell: The gun had blanks, the knife, a retractable blade. Hardly original, but effective enough, I think you'll agree. I'm told you are a graduate student. Brilliant, yes? You're a historian, and I am part of history. I should have thought you would have found me interesting. Frankly, I am disappointed in your silence.
Babe: Why do you have so little accent?
Szell: I had alexia as a child. Alexia is a disease that-
Babe: I know. It's where you can't understand written speech.
Szell: Highest marks. At any event, my writing is childish still, but I am a fanatic about spoken language. I envy you your school days. Enjoy them fully. It's the last time of your life no expects anything of you.

Szell: Is it safe? [pause] Is it safe?
Babe: You're talking to me?
Szell: Is it safe?
Babe: Is what safe?
Szell: Is it safe?
Babe: I don't know what you mean. I can't tell you something's safe or not, unless I know specifically what you're talking about.
Szell: Is it safe?
Babe: Tell me what the "it" refers to.
Szell: Is it safe?
Babe: Yes, it's safe, it's very safe, it's so safe you wouldn't believe it.
Szell: Is it safe?
Babe: No. It's not safe, it's... very dangerous, be careful. [laughs but in a scared manner]
[Szell takes his dental explorer and mouth mirror and approaches Babe]
Szell: Hm. Relax, relax, relax. Come on. Open. Uh-huh. Okay, okay. [Babe opens his mouth] Come on.
[Szell explores Babe's mouth with a dental instrument]
Babe: Huh! Ugh!
Szell: That hurt?
Babe: Uh-huh.
Szell: I know. I should think it would. You should take better care of your teeth. You have a...[hits the cavity again]
Babe: Aah!
Szell: ...a cav...quite a cavity here. Is it safe?
Babe: Look, I told you I can't... [Szell stabs the probe into the nerve] AAH! AAAH! Aah!
Karl: [holds Babe's head again] You thinks he knows?
Erhard: Of course he knows! He's being very stubborn.
[Szell then opens a small bottle of oil of cloves]
Babe: Oh, oh please. Please! Please don't. No.
Szell: It's okay.
Babe: Huh?
[Szell applies the bottle of oil of cloves to kill the pain]
Szell: Is it not remarkable? Simple oil of cloves, and how amazing the results. Life can be that simple: [holds up the oil] Relief... [and the probe tool] Discomfort. Now which of these I next apply? That decision is in your hands. So... take your time... and tell me... is it safe?
Babe: Aah. [says in a hushed tone] Please stop. Please, stop.

Janeway: [In the car with Babe] All right, things are starting to come together. Keep your head down before you get it blown off. Those two guys I just wasted work for a man named Christian Szell. Does that name mean anything to you?
Babe: No
Janeway: He ran the experimental camp in Auchswitz, where they called him "The White Angel", the Weiße Engel, because he has this incredible head of white hair. He's probably the wealthiest and most wanted Nazi left alive. And he's hiding out somewhere in Uruguay. In 1945, Szell let it be known around Auchswitz that he could provide escape for any Jew who was willing to pay the price. He started with gold naturally, but very quickly worked his way up to diamonds. Have you heard any of this before?
Babe: No.
Janeway: Szell saw the end early. And he snuck his brother into America with his diamonds. They're right here in New York in a safe deposit box. Szell's brother had the key. The only other key was kept by Szell in Uruguay. And now, if he has to come out of hiding to use it, he's gonna expose himself to incredible risk. Well, everything worked out fine until his brother got killed in a head-on collision with an oil truck.
Babe: Why did you say "naturally" when you said he'd started with gold?
Janeway: Because he knocked it out of the Jews' teeth before he burned them. Szell was a dentist.
Babe: He's not coming to America, Mr. Janeway. He's here.
Janeway: He can't be here. We'd already know of it.
Babe: He's here. He was the dentist that almost killed me. He kept saying, "Is it safe?, is it safe?" over and over.
Janeway: Did he have white hair? Keep your head down! Did he have white hair?
Babe: He was bald.
Janeway: Bald? The son of a bitch has shaved his head! He's here! And he's panicked!

Janeway: Listen, why don't we begin with what happened tonight, hmm? Perhaps you could... you know, give me some of the details.
Babe: I was here, Doc... died, you came.
Janeway: That's it?
Babe: I'm a demon for details.

Janeway: [Referring to his dead brother] What did he do?
Babe: He was in the oil business.
Janeway: Wrong. I know exactly how Doc made his living, and the closest he ever came to the oil business was when he filled up at the friendly neighborhood gas station.

Janeway: I don't think he knows anything. And I think he knows too much.
Szell: You can afford to think what you wish. I can't.
Szell: [to Babe] Oh please don't worry. I'm not going into that cavity. That nerve's already dying. A live, freshly-cut nerve is infinitely more sensitive. So I'll just drill into a healthy tooth until I reach the pulp... unless of course you can tell me that it's safe.

Babe: Listen, I want you to rob my apartment.
Melendez: [laughs] Why?
Babe: There are some guys out there after me, I got a gun in my desk drawer, and I want you to get me some clothes.
Melendez: What's in there for me, man?
Babe: I got a TV set, I got a hi-fi, you can take it all. Do it.
Melendez: What's the catch?
Babe: The catch is it's dangerous. Please do it.
Melendez: That ain't the catch. It's the fun.

Szell: I was in a state of hysteria, you know. [referring to the open suitcase filled with diamonds] Don't you want to take a closer look than that?
Babe: No!
Szell: You see, uh, in a sense, one becomes more emotional with age. First, after a lifetime of being taken by friends and enemies alike, and then just when you think you have your possessions sure, your health begins to go. [laughs] That is, of course, the ultimate theft!

Szell: Well, what are you going to do now, shoot me?
Babe: No, I don't think so.
Szell: Then you're going to take these from me? [gestures to the diamonds] If I could say a word about that...
Babe: No, you can keep them. You can keep as many as you can swallow.


  • A thriller.
  • One man's dangerous attempt to clear his father's name.


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