Cinema: Dead Heat

MARATHON MAN

Directed by JOHN SCHLESINGER Screenplay by WILLIAM GOLDMAN

No doubt: Marathon Man is the year's most cunning entertainment, a thriller full of spills and shootings, double-dealings and triple betrayals. It is lavishly mounted and loaded with flash. The movie also offers Dustin Hoffman, giving one of his best performances, up against Laurence Olivier, who is in fine form playing an archvillain. Watching Marathon Man is a little like getting crowned by a chain-mail fist.

But the movie is plagued by self-inflatable notions of its own importance. Director John Schlesinger (Sunday, Bloody Sunday;...