The Black Marble

AuthorAugust 11, 2020



“The Black Marble” facilities round a number of days within the
lifetime of a Los Angeles police sergeant named Valnikov (Robert Foxworth), an
incurably romantic Russian who has been consuming an excessive amount of since his associate’s
suicide. He will get a brand new associate, Sgt. Natalie Zimmerman, performed by Paula
Prentiss as a mix of Sally Kellerman and Lucille Ball. His new associate
thinks Valnikov is insane. Maybe she’s proper.
The
case they start engaged on collectively includes a prize bitch that has been
kidnapped and is being held for $85,000 ransom. Valnikov goes to interview the
kidnapped canine’s grieving proprietor, a lovely girl of a sure age. And, in a
pleasant scene that illustrates the film’s present of having the ability to slide ever
so frivolously from drama into cheerful comedy, he winds up on the couch with the
girl, drying her tears and vowing, “Don’t fear; I promise I’ll get your
doggie again.”

The
dry tone Foxworth brings to the pronunciation of such traces is among the
film’s charms. He is mustachioed, mournful-eyed, often hung over, and stuffed
with historic Russian goals and curses. It is inevitable, after all, that he
and the attractive Zimmerman fall in love, they usually have a beautiful seduction scene
in his residence. He places sweepingly romantic Russian folks music on his stereo.
They dance. “Translate the lyrics for me!” she whispers into his ear.
He does. It doesn’t hassle both of them that there are not any lyrics for the reason that
track is instrumental.
Meanwhile,
a parallel plot includes the evil canine kidnapper, performed by that uniquely malevolent
character actor Harry Dean Stanton, who appears to be like and talks like Robert Mitchum’s
imply child brother. Stanton is a veterinarian who has by no means damage a canine in his
life. But he wants the ransom to pay a playing debt earlier than he’s killed.
Coughing, wheezing, and spitting by way of an limitless chain of cigarettes, he
makes phone threats to the canine’s proprietor, who counters with descriptions of
her personal monetary plight, unpaid payments, and tax issues.
When
Valnikov and the kidnapper lastly meet nose to nose, they get into what’s
undoubtedly probably the most painful chase sequence I can bear in mind, a chase that
requires them to climb mesh fences separating a sequence of savage and terrified
canine that snap maniacally at their legs. The chase is one other scene
illustrating the curious manner wherein “The Black Marble” succeeds in being
humorous, painful, and romantic, generally concurrently.
The
film’s not altogether a comedy, though we snigger; it is a love story that children
itself and finally ends up severely; it comprises violence however shouldn’t be actually violent.
What it all the time does is preserve us off steadiness. Because we will not anticipate what’s
going to occur subsequent, the film has a persistent inside life; there’s by no means
the sense {that a} scene is included as a result of it is anticipated.

The
performances go to point out you {that a} good actor in a foul movie can have a really
onerous time showing to be any good. Foxworth’s earlier display credit embrace “The
Omen,” “Part II” and “Prophecy.” Neither movie gave me the slightest motive to
look ahead to him in “The Black Marble,” however he is fantastic right here. He provides
his character weariness and craziness after which covers them each with heat. He
and Prentiss have a lot enjoyable with the lengthy seduction scene that we will sense
the enjoyment of appearing craftsmanship going into it.
The
film’s the second manufacturing by Joseph Wambaugh, the L.A. cop who turned a
best-selling novelist solely to see Hollywood doing horrible issues to his
novels. Wambaugh vowed to provide his personal books. The business had its doubts,
particularly when Wambaugh employed a little-known British director, Harold Becker,
to direct his first challenge, “The Onion Field.” But that was a
robust, edgy, efficient film, and now Wambaugh and Becker are again with this
uncommon and distinctive comedy. Because it’s uneven and strikes so simply amongst
its varied tones and moods, it is doable, I suppose, to fault it on kind:
This is not a seamless piece of labor, but it surely’s infectious and charming.



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