From Golden Globe nominated director John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy, Pacific Heights), I remember seeing this film once, and of course I remembered the significant and most memorable scenes, but I had to see it again to appreciate it. Basically in New York City, the brother of infamous Nazi criminal Dr. Christian 'The White Angel' Szell (Golden Globe winning, and Oscar nominated Lord Sir Laurence Olivier) was killed in a car accident, and he held a valuable safe deposit box key. Thomas Babington 'Babe' Levy (BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated Dustin Hoffman) is the graduate medical student who also aspires to run a marathon so runs avidly, and soon after this accident was reported, his brother Henry David 'Doc' (Roy Scheider) shows up out of nowhere, unknown to his brother he is only posing as an oil tycoon, he is fact a spy. Working for the secret agency called "The Division", headed by director Peter Janeway (William Devane), Doc suspects the dead man's brother will show up in the city in order to get this key and retrieve the valuable contents of the safe deposit box. Babe starts a relationship with Elsa Opel (Golden Globe nominated Marthe Keller) who claims to be from Switzerland, Doc suspected her of being involved with Szell, but she is not, she just wants to marry and be a U.S. citizen. After being wounded in an encounter with Szell, Doc goes to Babe and dies in his arms, without saying anything, and he gets questioned by the police, and that is when he meets Janeway who reveals his brother was a spy. Then he is abducted by Szell and his subordinates, believing Doc may have said something to him about, and being a skilled dentist Szell tortures him with the repeating of the words "Is it safe?" (number 70 on 100 Years, 100 Quotes) and drilling into a healthy tooth. Babe is let go when they realise he obviously know anything about, and after escaping he invites a neighbour to rob his house in order to get clothes and a gun to end what is going on, and he starts with killing traitor double agent Janeway and Szell's men, who also killed Elsa. Szell meanwhile has the key to the safe deposit, and he is overjoyed to see it stashed with diamonds, but he cannot value them with most of the diamond shop owners being Jewish, some will recognise him from Auschwitz. After seemingly getting away with his case of diamonds, Szell is forced at gunpoint into the pump rooms of the reservoir, and rather than kill the sinister doctor he takes the diamonds and individually scatters them in the water below. In the end, after forced to swallow a diamond or two, Szell ends up killing himself with his own sleeve switch blade while falling down the stairs to retrieve the diamonds, and drowning as well, and Babe walks away, throwing his gun in the ocean. Also starring Fritz Weaver as Prof. Biesenthal, Richard Bright as Karl, The Man with the Golden Gun's Marc Lawrence as Erhard, Allen Joseph as Babe's Father, Tito Goya as Melendez, Ben Dova as Szell's Brother and Lou Gilbert as Rosenbaum. Hoffman is really good as the young man in the middle of a big conspiracy, and Scheider and Keller do well with his time on screen, but of course Olivier steals the show as the demented dentist doctor who's only goal is the find the diamonds, and his most evil moment is of course the dental torture scene, which still manages to disturb. I agree it takes a little while to really get stuck into what the main plot is, and there are little gaps in amongst, but once you get to grips with it, it is a mostly intense and interesting dark film, a most watchable thriller. It was nominated the BAFTA for Best Film Editing, and it was nominated the Golden Globes for Best Screenplay. Dustin Hoffman was number 24 on The 100 Greatest Movie Stars, Lord Sir Laurence Olivier was number 21 on The 50 Greatest British Actors, he was number 3 on Britain's Finest Actors, he was number 14 on 100 Years, 100 Stars - Men, and Hoffman was number 21, and Olivier number 4 on The World's Greatest Actor, Dr. Szell was number 34 on 100 Years, 100 Heroes & Villains, the film was number 56 on The 100 Greatest Scary Moments, and it was number 50 on 100 Years, 100 Thrills. Very good!
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