The Black Marble (1980): Not Just Another Shaggy Dog Tale

Lock Down Movie: THE BLACK MARBLE (1980)


I’d be surprised if many of you have heard of Harold Becker’s hybrid romance/crime thriller The Black Marble; I came across it late one night on the UK’s Channel 4 and has stuck in my memory ever since.



Written by the usually hard-boiled crime writer Joseph Wambaugh (The Choirboys, Onion Field), The Black Marble is a change of pace, its unhurried narrative concerning a boozy Russian-American LAPD Sgt Valnikov (Robert Foxworth), his new sharp-tongued partner Zimmerman (Paula Prentiss) and the antics of dog-napper Philo Skinner (the late, great Harry Dean Stanton).


It’s a really sweet movie in its way – and the chemistry between Foxworth and Prentiss is pretty amazing:


The Black Marble Audiophile scene


A brief word on Robert Foxworth.


The Black Marble is easily the best role for the piercing-eyed actor, who will be familiar to some readers for his roles as a bad guy in Damien: Omen II and a leading cast member in the 80s California winery soap Falcon Crest. Foxworth also happened to be the last husband of Elizabeth Montgomery (Bewitched)


Falcon Crest Opening Theme Season 6 (Version 1)



Final thought: I bought a secondhand DVD of The Black Marble back in 2009 on Amazon US for around $12. It now costs a helluva lot more.

Stephen Arnell

Culture Comment Content Provider. Portrait courtesy of artist Darren Coffield. 'Non satis me tempo'