The Black Marble

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The Black Marble
Black marble.jpg
DVD release cover
Directed by Harold Becker
Produced by Frank Capra, Jr.
Written by Joseph Wambaugh
Starring Robert Foxworth
Paula Prentiss
Harry Dean Stanton
Barbara Babcock
John Hancock
Raleigh Bond
Music by Richard Bowden
Maurice Jarre
Cinematography Owen Roizman
Edited by Maury Winetrobe
The Black Marble Company
Distributed by AVCO Embassy Pictures
Release dates March 7, 1980 (1980-03-07)
Running time 113 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Black Marble is a 1980 mystery/comedy film directed by Harold Becker, based on a novel by Joseph Wambaugh. It stars Robert Foxworth and Paula Prentiss.


Pragmatic Sgt. Natalie Zimmermann of the LAPD is paired with Sgt. Valnikov, a romantic detective of Russian origin who is going through a midlife crisis. They fall in love while solving the case of the kidnapping of a socialite's valuable pet dog. While containing more humorous elements than most of Joseph Waumbaugh's stories, it continues to explore Waumbaugh's common theme of the psychological burdens of police work.

A comedic highlight of the film is a slow-motion chase sequence through a very messy dog kennel.

The title of the film comes from a phrase used by Sgt. Zimmermann. The term black marble is synonymous to choosing the short straw or having bad luck. She states that she is always picking the black marble and does not want to anymore. She initially considers Sgt. Valnikov a 'black marble', but by the end of the film no longer believes this to be true or does not think this is important.



  • The film is rated  R13  in New Zealand for violence and offensive language.


1981 Edgar Allan Poe Awards


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