by Jack Nilan            EMail :

Marathon Man (1976)

Movie Grade A

McCarthyism Connection Grade D

McCarthyism Connection
Thomas "Babe" Levy (played by Dustin Hoffman), a graduate student and runner who is haunted by the suicide of his father, which was caused by the witchhunts of McCarthyism decades earlier.

Suspense / drama


Jack   A
Roger Ebert   ***
IMDB    7.5

   Babe is haunted by the death of his father, who committed suicide because of accusations made about him during the McCarthy hearings. Babe is a professional student is writing his doctoral thesis about tyranny in government with an emphasis on McCarthyism. He keeps the gun his father killed himself with in his desk drawer.

   His bother Doc, who was probably equally affected, goes into another occupation. One of the more interesting things to consider, in terms of McCarthyism and this movie, is whether Doc also chose his occupation to prove something about his father. The brothers talk in the dialogue below.

BABE There are some interviews about Dad. I'd like you to read it.
DOC Not interested. You're never gonna face it, are you? The old man is dead. He was a drunk. He killed himself.
BABE Yeah, Doc, but he didn't start to drink until after the hearings. It's right here in the interview...
DOC Where were those people when he needed them?
BABE They were afraid like everybody else.

   This movie really wasn't a great McCarthyism movie but I think it was a great thriller. Lawrence Olivier, Roy Scheider and Dustin Hoffman were all great. A 70's conspiracy that echoes back to the time of McCarthyism in asking "Is it safe?".