Marathon Man - description
Marathon Man is a 1974 paranoid thriller novel by William Goldman. In 1976 it was made into a film of the same name starring Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier, and Roy Scheider and directed by John Schlesinger.
The former Nazi SS dentist at Auschwitz, Dr. Christian Szell (inspired by Josef Mengele, the last doctor in charge of Auschwitz II), now residing in Paraguay, must smuggle many diamonds out of the United States after the accidental death of his brother in New York City. This involves a secret intelligence agency named "Division".
Meanwhile, at Columbia University, Thomas "Babe" Levy is a graduate student in history and an aspiring marathon runner. He is haunted by his father's suicide, provoked by the activities of Senator McCarthy decades earlier, when he and his elder brother were boys. Unbeknownst to Babe, his brother works in Division.
Both the novel and the film contain a graphic scene in which Szell tortures Babe by drilling into his teeth, without anesthetic, and repeatedly asks the question, "Is it safe?" (a line that ranks #70 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes list.) Babe does not know what the question means, nor the interrogator's identity. In the course of torturing him, Szell offers him the analgesic clove oil as inducement to cooperate. The line, and the scene itself, have been parodied or referenced often in the years since the film's release.