Marathon Man

  • Review Date: October 30, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 1976
  • Running Time: 125 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Film's notorious torture scene means adults only.
  • Review Date: October 30, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 1976
  • Running Time: 125 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The main character stands up to a Nazi criminal, but does so in a violent and unlawful manner.


Bloody shootings, strangling, knifings, fistfights, graphic torture, car chases, etc.


Nude sex scene.

Not applicable

The action is motivated by characters' desire for jewels.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Casual drinking of alcohol.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is an action film full of violence. Numerous fights take place with various weapons ranging from fists and razor wire to guns and knives. Many fights and standoffs end with characters dying in bloody and graphic ways. Tense scenes feature a character being tortured with dental equipment. A flashback sequence shows a young child discovering his father dead on the floor after having committed suicide. One nude sex scene takes place. Many characters use explicit language in anger and frustration.

Parents say

Not yet rated
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Kids say

What's the story?

Adapted from a best-selling novel by William Goldman, MARATHON MAN follows the story of a Columbia University graduate student who suddenly finds himself pursued by thugs and killers. Babe Levy (Dustin Hoffman) is still troubled by his father's suicide, when his brother Doc (Roy Scheider) comes to visit him. Shortly after arriving, Doc is stabbed to death by his paranoid employer, a hidden Nazi war criminal named Christian Szell (Laurence Olivier). Fearing that Doc may have told Babe about his precious stash of diamonds, Szell and his henchmen go after Babe using various tactics to get any information out of him. Soon Babe finds himself having to use aggressive tactics himself in order to protect himself and avenge his brother's death.

Is it any good?


Marathon Man has held up remarkably well in its ability to create suspense. Dustin Hoffman turns in a great performance, making his character's change from sheepish to gutsy seem quite plausible. Other performances are good, most notably Laurence Olivier's turn as Szell, (possibly one of the most despicable screen villains of all time).

Legend has it that the dental torture scenes were too much for some audiences to handle. With that said, this is not a film for the squeamish, but for those who enjoy great thrillers, this is a rare treat.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about this film's representation of masculinity. How does Dustin Hoffman's character have to change in order to succeed? Can you think of other movies that require men to resort to violence to protect themselves or their families? What do you think of these portrayals?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 6, 1976
DVD release date:March 7, 2002
Cast:Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier, Roy Scheider
Director:John Schlesinger
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Run time:125 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:Restricted

This review of Marathon Man was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 11 years old March 6, 2010
I have this movie and watched it bad scenes with stambing people with nifes
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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