'"'Is it safe?"''
A 1974 political thriller novel written by William Goldman
, adapted into a 1976 film directed by John Schlesinger.Dustin Hoffman
plays Thomas "Babe" Levy, a history graduate student and aspiring marathon runner. Babe seeks to follow in the footsteps of his father, a historian who committed suicide after being unjustly targeted by Joseph McCarthy. He receives a visit from his brother Henry (Roy Scheider), who, unbeknownst to Babe, is a government agent assigned to manage the fugitive Nazi Christian Szell (Laurence Olivier
). Babe soon becomes entangled in events, and must fight to save himself from Szell and his allies.
A very surrealistic sequel to the novel, Brothers
, was published several years later.
Marathon Man provides examples of:
- Affably Evil: Szell is downright fatherly with Babe...in between torture sessions.
- Almost Dead Guy: A partial example, in that he can't manage to tell Babe anything, but everyone assumes he has.
- Bald of Evil: Guess.
- Belated Happy Ending: In Brothers, it turns out Scylla is still alive. He gets to reunite with Babe... if only for a moment.
- Bilingual Bonus: The car chase scene in the beginning, with brilliant insults in German and Yiddish being exchanged.
- Book Ends: In the first and last shots of Babe, he's running by the Central Park Reservoir.
- Cassandra Truth: The old Jewish lady who recognizes Szell. Everybody in the area hearing her yell, "It's Szell!" thinks she's senile.
- Catch Phrase: "Is it safe?" for Dr. Szell.
- Chekhov's Skill: Guess what.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Dr. Szell
- Depraved Dentist: One of the most famous examples.
- Disposable Woman
- The Dog Bites Back
- Even Evil Has Standards: One of Szell's henchmen turns his head away, terrified, when Szell tortures Babe with his dental instruments.
- Fatal Flaw: Szell's greed and paranoia. When Babe throws his diamonds in the reservoir, he ends up tumbling down the stairs after them, eventually impaling himself.
- Faux Affably Evil: Szell.
- Gory Discretion Shot: When Szell drills into Babe's teeth.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Film only; Szell falls down a staircase while chasing after the briefcase of diamonds and impales himself on his own blade.
- Imagine Spot
- Interrogated for Nothing: Babe gives every possible answer, several times, during his torture, but Szell is never satisfied.
- Ironic Echo: "It's not safe."
- Killed Mid-Sentence: Poor Doc
- Mad Doctor
- Memento MacGuffin: The gun Babe's father used to shoot himself.
- The Mole: More than one.
- Nazi Grandpa: Doctor Szell is kindly toward children who visit his dentist's office. He's less kindly to people who are in his care when he wants information from them.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Szell is loosely based on Josef Mengele.
- Nothing Up My Sleeve: Szell has a retractable blade up his sleeve.
- Oh, Crap: The Reveal that Janeway is The Mole and Babe's escape has failed.
- Precision F-Strike: "I couldn't give a fuck about your Stab!"
- Scenery Porn
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules!
- Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: Dustin Hoffman is on this poster◊.
- Signature Line: "Is it safe?"
- Strapped to an Operating Table
- Suddenly Sexuality: Toyed with. In the novel, there are early hints that Scylla is dating Janeway, and it later turns out that they are. No big deal is ever made of this. In the sequel Brothers, Scylla suddenly sleeps with a random woman, and only kisses a man while undercover during a spy mission.
- The Tooth Hurts: Indeed it does.
- This Is a Drill: The dental kind.
- Thwarted Escape
- Token Evil Teammate: Melendez, the burglar Babe lets ransack his place in exchange for helping him with Szell's men.
- Took a Level in Badass: Babe at the end.
- To the Pain: "So, I'll just drill into a healthy tooth until I reach the pulp. That is unless, of course, you can tell me that it's safe."
- "I'll let you keep as many as you can swallow."
- White Hair, Black Heart: Szell's nickname is "The White Angel" because of his hair.
- You Wouldn't Shoot Me: Szell says this to Babe when the latter refuses to pull the trigger. Babe responds by chucking what's left of the diamond stash into the reservoir.