Thomas "Babe" Levy (Dustin Hoffman) is a disheveled grad student at Columbia, training for the NYC Marathon by doing countless 1.5 mile loops around the Central Park Reservoir in broken-down leather sneakers and heavy cotton sweats (now, that's torture). His brother, Henry (Roy Scheider) is a slick jet-setter involved in international intrigue, dining at Le Dome in Paris, and fending off attackers who try to strangle him with piano wire.
It's lunchtime, and Henry has invited Babe and his new girlfriend to a fancy restaurant. The waiter offers Babe a tie, which he sheepishly attaches to the collar of his polo shirt. It's the kind of stuffily formal place that was held up as the ultimate dining experience in the 1970s: starched white tablecloths, tuxedoed waiters, classical music, and a "Continental" menu—basically meat and potatoes covered in a really rich sauce. (Calvin Trillin parodied the smaller-town version of this at the time as "La Maison de la Casa House.")
"The truffles en croute here are marvelous," says Henry.
"I could pay my tuition with what this meal costs," says Babe.
I can't help but think the 2006 version of this would be wearing $500 jeans for sushi at Nobu.
[Postscript: I finished my 4th NYC marathon on Sunday. For race hi/low lights, click here (Nov. 6, 2006 entry).]