The Black Marble

(1980)

Genres: Comedy, Crime, Romance

Classics from the Vault: Going to Movies with a Critic (1980)

Transcript for Classics from the Vault: Going to Movies with a Critic (1980)

Christy Lemire: 
HELLO AND WELCOME. I'M CHRISTY LEMIRE OF THE ASSOCIATED PRESS.


Ignatiy Vishnevetsky: 
AND I'M IGNATIY VISHNEVETSKY OF MUBI.COM. WE ARE TAKING A BREAK FROM THE MOVIE REVIEW BEAT. WE ARE REACHING INTO OUR VAULTS TO BRING YOU SOME TELEVISION CLASSICS ORIGINAL EPISODES WITH ROGER EBERT AND GENE SISKEL.


Christy Lemire: 
THEY WERE TAPED RIGHT HERE AT WTTW IN CHICAGO. LET'S GET STARTED WITH GOING TO THE MOVIES WITH A CRITIC FROM 1980. 
 
Roger Ebert: 
GENE SISKEL, PLEASE. YEAH, GENE, CAN YOU MAKE A SCREENING OF THE "BLACK MARBLE" ON WEDNESDAY AT 2:00. OKAY, I WILL CALL ROGER. OKAY, THANKS A LOT.
 

>> HE'S AS CRAZY L.A. COP.
>> AHH!
>> SHE'S A LONELY L.A. COP.
>> HE'S A CRAZY, LONELY, L.A. CROOK.
>> YOU WANT TO GIVE ME YOUR DAMN CREDIT CARD, MAYBE?
>> AND THIS IS "THE BLACK MARBLE."
>> YOU KNOW, I DON'T EVEN KNOW YOUR FIRST NAME.
>> WHO ARE YOU?
>> BARUSHKA.

 
Gene Siskel: 
THAT'S HOW IT BEGINS. THAT'S HOW A MOVIE COMES TO TOWN WITH A PRESS AGENT INVITING ROGER AND ME TO THE SCREENING AND THEN PUBLIC IS LURED INTO THEATERS BY A COMING ATTRACTIONS AND HOW WE GO TO THE MOVIES AS CRITICS IS THE SPECIAL TAKE TWO PROGRAM.
AND THIS IS ROGER EBERT. 
 
Roger Ebert: 
AND THIS IS GENE SISKEL. WE'LL TAKE YOU TO "THE BLACK MARBLE." WE'LL SEE A LOT OF THE NEW FILMS AND EXPLAIN WHAT GOES THROUGH OUR MINDS AND THEN WE'LL TAKE YOU BACK TO OUR OFFICES AS WE WRITE OUR REVIEWS.
 
Gene Siskel: 
USING "THE BLACK MARBLE" AS AN EXAMPLE, WE WILL TRY TO SOLVE ONE OF THE MINOR MYSTERIES OF THE WORLD, WHICH IS HOW DO CRITICS COME TO HAVE THEIR OPINIONS. WE WILL TRY TO EXPLAIN THAT STEP BY STEP IN THIS SPECIAL SHOW. WE WILL LEAVE THIS BALCONY FOR ABOUT TEN MINUTES TO SHOW YOU SOME FILM FOOTAGE SHOT BY A CAMERA CREW THAT FOLLOWED US AROUND ON THE JOB. 

WE WILL TAKE YOU INTO THAT SCREENING ROOM WHERE YOU WILL SEE FULL LENGTH SCREENS FROM "THE BLACK MARBLE" BUT WE'LL TAKE YOU TO OUR NEWSPAPER WHERE ROGER AND I EACH TALKED ABOUT WHAT OUR EXPECTATIONS WERE BEFORE WE GO TO THE MOVIES. EXPECTATIONS DO PLAY A SMALL ROLE IN OUR FINAL OPINIONS. FIRST MY OFFICE AT THE "CHICAGO TRIBUNE."


ALL THAT I KNOW ABOUT THE "BLACK MARBLE" BEFORE I GO TO SEE THE PICTURE IS THE SAME PEOPLE WHO MADE "THE ONION FIELD" AND THAT GETS ME EXCITED BECAUSE I LIKED IT LAST YEAR. I PUT IT ON THE TOP TEN FILMS FOR THE YEAR. SAME DIRECTOR, HAROLD BECKER AND I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO IT ON THAT BASIS AND ON ONE OTHER BASIS, A TV CRITIC, GARY DEEP, HE KNOWED WAMBAUGH.

HE SHOWED HIM THE FIELD AND HE SAYS IT'S A COMEDY, AND NOW I'M SKEPTICAL BECAUSE "THE ONION FIELD" WAS A THRILLER, AND NOW THIS ONE IS A COMEDY. A LITTLE BIT OF ANTICIPATION AND SKEPTICISM BEFORE I GO TO SEE "THE BLACK MARBLE."
 
Roger Ebert: 
ODDLY ENOUGH, I KNOW LESS ABOUT "THE BLACK MARBLE" THAN MOST MOVIES. I DELIBERATELY TRIED NOT TO FIND OUT MUCH ABOUT IT. WHAT DO I KNOW ABOUT "THE BLACK MARBLE." I INTERVIEWED JOSEPH WAMBAUGH WHEN HE WAS MAKING "THE ONION FIELD." I KNOW IT'S DIRECTED BY THE SAME MAN, HAROLD BECKER. I KNOW IT HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH THE PEOPLE WHO ENTER DOGS IN DOG SHOWS AND THAT'S ABOUT IT. I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHO THE STARS OF THIS MOVIE ARE.
 
Gene Siskel: 
I HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK OR THE FILM THAT IT'S BASED ON. I DID GET A PRESS KIT THAT HAS A LOT OF THE TECHNICAL INFORMATION, AND I WILL LOOK AT THAT WHEN I WRITE THE REVIEW. BASICALLY, I'M WALKING IN, HOPING IT'S A GOOD PICTURE WHICH IS SORT OF THE WAY I LIKE TO FEEL WHENEVER I GO TO REVIEW A MOVIE.
 
Roger Ebert: 
SO WHAT ARE MY EXPECTATIONS ABOUT THIS FILL (WELL, IN THE FIRST PLACE I HAVEN'T TALKED TO ANYONE WOULD HAS ALREADY SEEN IT. I HAVEN'T BEEN TOLD THAT IT'S GOOD OR BAD. I DO KNOW, THOUGH, THAT IT WAS PRODUCED, DIRECTED AND WRITTEN BY THE SAME TEAM THAT MADE "THE ONION FIELD." I THOUGHT THAT WAS A GOOD FILM AND SO OBVIOUSLY MY EXPECTATIONS ARE HIGH. I HOPE "THE BLACK MARBLE" WILL BE AT LEAST AS GOOD. I HAVEN'T READ THE NOVEL BY WAMBAUGH. I HAVE IT AT HOME. WHEN A NEW BOOK COMES OUT AND I KNOW IT WILL BE FILMED, I WON'T READ IT. I DON'T WANT TO KNOW WHAT IT BETWEEN THE COVERS. I DON'T WANT TO WALK INTO THE SCREENING AND SAYING IS IT FAITHFUL TO THE BOOK? HAVE THEY CHANGED THE CHARACTERS? I WANT THE FILM GOING EXPERIENCE TO BE AS FRESH AND POSSIBLE AND I WANT TO BE AS OPEN AS POSSIBLE WHEN I GO TO A SCREENING.

I ALWAYS TRY TO GO TO A SCREENING WITH A FULL STOMACH. AND NOW I'M AT THE POPCORN SHOP, WHERE I SEE ALL THE MOVIES. THE SCREENING ROOM POPCORN AT THE THEATER, IT STINKS. THIS IS VERY FRESH, CARAMEL AND CHEESE GOOD MORNING FOR $1.21. THIS IS TERRIFIC. THANKS, DAVE.
 
Roger Ebert: 
THIS IS THE CHICAGO THEATER ON STATE STREET. THE THIRD LARGEST THEATER IN THE COUNTRY BUT INSIDE ON THE 7th FLOOR IS THE SMALLEST THEATER IN CHICAGO. IT'S A PRIVATE SCREENING ROOM WHERE GENE AND I SEE MOST OF THE NEW MOVIES BEFORE THEY OPEN. THE ENTRANCE IS AROUND THE CORNER AND DOWN THE ALLEY. PEOPLE SOMETIMES ASK IF IT HAS AN EFFECT TO GO TO A SCREENING AND SEE THE EFFECT LIKE THIS, ALL ALONE WITHOUT AN AUDIENCE. 
IN MY CASE, I DON'T THINK SO. I SEE SOME MOVIES IN SCREENING ROOMS LIKE THIS AND I SEE SOME IN REGULAR THEATER AND BUY A TICKET AND SIT WITH THE AUDIENCE. I TRY TO BE AS OBJECTIVE AS POSSIBLE IN REPORTING WHAT HAPPENS BETWEEN ME AND THE SCREEN. HI, GENE.
 
Gene Siskel: 
HI, ROGER. HOW ARE YOU DOING?
 
Roger Ebert: 
OKAY.
 
Gene Siskel: 
IN EVERY THEATER I HAVE A FAVORITE SEAT. I LIKE TO SIT IN THE LAST ROW SORT OF OFF TO THE SIDE. THE LAST ROW BECAUSE IT DOESN'T HAVE ANY ROCKING CHAIR SEATS AND SOME BAD MOVIES, ROCKING CHAIR SEATS CAN LULL YOU TO SLEEP.
 
Roger Ebert: 
IT IS A FUNNY THING ABOUT GOING TO THE MOVIES WHEN YOU GO TO A COUPLE HUNDRED MOVIES A YEAR, YOU GET INTO RITUALS AND PATTERNS OF HABIT. I USUALLY SIT IN THIS SEAT. I DON'T KNOW WHY. I GUESS IT'S JUST A HABIT FOR ME. 
I DO KNOW WHEN I GO TO A REGULAR MOVIE THEATER, NO MATTER WHERE IT IS, I ALWAYS HAVE THE SAME KIND OF STRATEGY WHEN I WALK IN. I ALWAYS CHOOSE A SEAT THAT'S TWICE AS FAR BACK FROM THE SCREEN AS THE SCREEN IS WIDE. NOW, THERE'S A THEORY THAT THAT RATIO IS RIGHT IN TERMS OF YOUR EYES. I DON'T KNOW IF IT'S TRUE OR NOT BUT IT SEEMS TO WORK FOR ME.
 
Gene Siskel: 
SOMETIMES PEOPLE WONDER WHETHER CRITICS TAKE NOTES IN THE MOVIES. I HAPPEN TO DO. SO I STARTED ABOUT TEN YEARS AGO DOING IT. I THINK IT'S BECAUSE I WAS A REPORTER BEFORE A MOVIE CRITIC. IN EFFECT, JUST A LIKE A REPORTER GOING TO THE FIRE, I TAKE NOTES ON MY REACTIONS TO THE MOVIES AND FACTS AND FIGURES. I DON'T HAVE TO REMEMBER HOW MUCH SOMEONE ROBBED A BANK FOR.
ONE FUNNY THING ABOUT THE NOTE TAKING. WHEN I DO THE REVIEW AT THE NEWSPAPER, I DON'T LOOK AT MY NOTES.
 
Roger Ebert: 
I USUALLY DON'T TAKE NOTES. I TRIED IT YEARS AGO WHEN I STARTED AS A FILM CRITIC. I FOUND IT TO BE A BIG DISTRACTION. I WAS WRITING NOTES WHEN SOMETHING ELSE WAS HAPPENING IN THE MOVIE. TO ME, IT'S A LOT BETTER TO LET THE MOVIE HAPPEN AND IF THERE'S SOMETHING WORTH REMEMBERING, I FIND THAT I REMEMBER IT.
 
Gene Siskel: 
IT'S NO BIG DEAL BUT I AM ABLE TO TAKE NOTES IN THE DARK. IN FACT, ONE OF THE GIFTS THAT I OFTEN GET ARE LIGHTED PENS. I HAVE EIGHT OF THEM AT HOME, AND I HAVEN'T USED A SINGLE ONE. FINALLY WHEN WE GET EVERYTHING TOGETHER, OUR NOTE PADS, POPCORN AND PENS AND OUR EYES, FINALLY IT'S TIME TO SIGNAL THE PROJECTIONIST. ONE OF US USUALLY FLICKS THESE LIGHT SWITCHES DOWN HERE.
 
[ TELEPHONE RINGING ]
 
THOSE ARE THE OPENING SCENES OF "THE BLACK MARBLE" AND NOW THE ACTION BEGINS WITH A CREEP TRYING TO EXTORT THE OWNER OF A PRIZEWINNING SHOW DOG.
 

>> IS THIS MADELINE RICHFIELD.
>> YES.
>> MY NAME IS RICHARD.
I WANT TO TELL YOU THAT  THAT SCHNAUZER BITCH YOU HAVE IS NOT VICKY.
DO YOU UNDERSTAND?
IT'S NOT VICKY.
NOW, YOU WILL KNOW THAT WHEN SHE REVIVES FROM THE TRANQUILIZER THAT I GAVE HER.
>> EXCUSE ME?
I  I DON'T UNDERSTAND.
>> NOW, LISTEN TO ME.
I WANT $85,000.
>> HOW MUCH?
>> $5,000.
  $85,000.
>> I  I  THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE.
I DON'T HAVE $85,000.
I CAN'T GET $85,000.
>> SHUT UP!
 
Roger Ebert: 
THE DOG OWNER CONTACTS THE POLICE. ASSIGNED TO THE CASE, UNEASY POLICE PARTNERS WORKING TOGETHER FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME.
 

>> SERGEANT, I HAVE MANAGED TO RAISE $20,000, AND I DECIDED THAT IF YOU RELEASE VICKY UNHARMED, I'M GOING TO GIVE IT TO HIM.
>> FOR A DOG?
THAT'S STUPID.
>> NATALIE, PLEASE.
SERGEANT ZIMMERMAN DIDN'T MEAN TO IMPLY 
>> THE HELL I DIDN'T.
>> MS. RICHFIELD, WHAT I'M HOPING IS WE CAN ARRANGE A MONEY DROP TOMORROW AND THAT YOU WILL TRUST ME TO ARRANGE A SURVEILLANCE.
IF IT LOOKS TOO CHANCEY, WE WILL LET IT GO.
>> WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A DOG.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN LET THE MONEY GO?
>> SERGEANT, YOU KNOW I TRUST YOU.
>> GOOD.
 
Gene Siskel: 
LATER IN THE MOVIE, THE COPS START FALLING LOVE. AT A RUSSIAN RESTAURANT, THEY START TO RECOGNIZE THE AFFAIR, AND THE COMIC EXTORTION STORY IS TURNING INTO A ROMANCE.

 
>> HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT YOUR MIND WANDERS A BIT.
>> MAYBE YOU'VE HAD ENOUGH VODKA.
>> JUST KEEP ANSWERING MY QUESTIONS.
IS THAT YOUR CASE?
I'VE GOT MINE.
LET'S GO TO YOUR CASE  I MEAN, PLACE SO I CAN WORK ON MY CASE.
>> MY PLACE?
>> YEAH.
>> DO YOU HAVE ANY RUSSIAN VODKA THERE?
>> YES.
YES, I DO.
NOW, I'M NOT BEING A CHAUVINIST, IT'S JUST THAT RUSSIANS LOVE TO GIVE FLOWERS.
>> YOU ARE A CRAZY, CRAZY MAN.
 
Gene Siskel: 
AS THE FILM DRAWS TO A CONCLUSION, THEY CLOSE IN ON HARRY DEAN STANTON, THE DESPERATE DOG NAPPER. THEY CLIMB OVER CAGES OF SMELLY DOGS.

 
[ DOGS BARKING ]
>> WHO ARE YOU?
>> WHO ARE YOU?
>> WHO ARE YOU?
>> I ASKED YOU FIRST.
>> I'M WITH THE LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT.
>> POLICE DEPARTMENT?
 
Roger Ebert: 
SO THERE YOU HAVE A PRETTY GOOD OVERVIEW IN TERMS OF THE STORY, THE CHARACTERS AND SO ON. AND ALSO SOME OF THE PROCESS WE GO THROUGH BEFORE WE SEE A NEW MOVIE. SOMETIMES PEOPLE ASK, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT WHILE YOU ARE SITTING THERE IN THE SCREENING ROOM. DO MOVIE CRITICS WATCH THE MOVIE ANY DIFFERENT THAN THE AVERAGE MOVIE GOERS? YES AND NO. I'M SITTING THERE TAKING IT IN LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE BUT ON THE OTHER LEVEL, I'M MONITORING MY OWN RESPONSES.
 
Gene Siskel: 
I DESCRIBE A MOVIE CRITIC, ONE TRACT REACTS TO THE MOVIE AND THE OTHER TRACT ANALYZES THE REACTION. NOT ONLY DO I SEE, IT BUT I TRY TO FIGURE OUT WHAT'S SO GOOD ABOUT IT, THE PARTICULARS ABOUT IT. NOW WE'LL TAKE A LOOK AT TWO SCENES FROM "THE BLACK MARBLE" THAT HAD A BIG IMPACT ON ROGER AND ME. YOU WILL SEE THE SCENE AND WHAT OUR MENTAL REACTIONS WERE, WHAT WE WERE THINKING ABOUT WHEN WE FIRST SAW THESE SCENES. LET'S GO BACK TO THE SCREENING ROOM. HERE WE ARE 30 MINUTES INTO THE MOVIE AND THE SECOND COMEDY SEQUENCE THAT I'VE SEEN THAT'S REALLY HEAVY-HANDED.

 
>> WELL, I GAVE IT A TRY, CAPTAIN AND IT'S NOT GOING TO WORK OUT.
 
Gene Siskel: 
PAULA PRENTICE IS COMPLAINING ABOUT HER PARTNER TO THE POLICE BOSSES AND THE WRITING IS GAG LINE. AND PRENTICE IS TERRIBLE, WAIT SHE READS HER LINES, REMINDS ME OF PAUL LINZ HOLLYWOOD CRACKING.

 
>> I'M NOT SAYING ZANY, BOMBY OR GOOFY.
I'M SAYING HE A PSYCHO.
>> NAME ONE CRAZY THINGS.
>> HE'S GONE AROUND THE BEND.
HE'S A CANDIDATE FOR A MEDICAL PENSION.
I'M GOING FOR THE RETIREMENT BADGE.
 
Gene Siskel:  
THIS ISN'T A POLICE STATION, A REAL ONE. THIS IS A SHOUTING MATCH AND IT TURNS THE SCENE INTO JOKE CITY. AND PRENTICE COMES OFF AS A KOOKY LADY.

>> CAPTAIN.
>> I'M A LITTLE BUSY RIGHT NOW.
>> NO.
I'M NOT NUTS, CAPTAIN.
>> I CAN'T GET THIS OPEN.
>> DO YOU KNOW WHERE HE WAS, NATALIE?
>> RUSSIAN CHRISTMAS.
HIS CHRISTMAS.
>> OH.
>> HOW DO YOU FEEL NOW, NATALIE?
>> I DON'T GIVE A DAMN IF IT WAS RUSSIAN CHRISTMAS.
THERE WERE OTHER THINGS!
 
Roger Ebert: 
I LIKE THE FORMALITY, WHERE THEY ARE STIFF WITH EACH OTHER, TO COVER UP THE FACT THAT THEY ARE ATTRACTED TO EACH OTHER.


>> I CAN TRANSLATE THE LYRIC, IF YOU LIKE. 
>> HE SEES A SNOWSTORM HOWLING BEHIND THE WINDOWS.
 
Roger Ebert: 
THE WAY THEY ARE CIRCLING EACH OTHER ARMS REMINDS ME OF THE SAME SORT OF THE SHOT OF THE GARDEN IN AN ALFRED HITCHCOCK MOVIE.


>> I LOVE YOU SO MUCH.
>> LET'S HAVE ANOTHER DRINK.
>> I LIKE IT THAT THE LEADING CHARACTER IS RUSSIAN.
I LIKE THE ETHNIC CHARACTERS, RATHER THAN CHARACTERS WHO ARE NOT SPECIFICALLY ANYTHING OR ANYBODY.
FOXWORTH HAS A NICE SHAGGY APPEAL AS VALNIKOV.
[ SPEAKING RUSSIAN ]
 
Roger Ebert: 
SHE HASN'T HAD A MOVIE ROLE LIKE THIS IN A LONG TIME. I LIKE THE SLIGHTLY ARCHED MONEYER. SHE'S VERBALLY  ARCHED MANNER. SHE'S VERBALLY HOLDER HERSELF AT ARM'S LENGTH.

 
>> WHAT IS HE SAYING?
>> THE NIGHTINGALES SINGING IN THE RASPBERRY BUSHES.
 
Roger Ebert: 
THEY DID THE SAME THING WITH THE CASTING. THEY FOUND GOOD ACTORS WHO HAVE NOT BEEN OVER EXPOSED YET.


>> THE NIGHTINGALES SINGING IN THE RASPBERRY BUSHES.
 
Gene Siskel: 
NOW HERE'S WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE MOVIE IS OVER.
 
Gene Siskel: 
RIGHT AFTER THE SCREENING, WE NEVER TALK TO EACH OTHER ABOUT THE MOVIE.
 
Roger Ebert: 
SO I GIVE THE MOVIE THREE AND A HALF STARS THAT'S ON THE BASIC MOVIE THEATER CRITIC, BASED ON FOUR STARS. I LIKED THE MOVIE A LOT. I WAS SURPRISED HOW MUCH I LIKED IT. I DON'T HAVE A WHOLE CHECK LIST OF THINGS THAT I COMPARE AGAINST WHAT I FIND ON THE SCREEN. INSTEAD, WHAT I TRY TO DO IS JUST SIT THERE AND LET THE MOVIE HAPPEN TO ME, AND THEN WRITE A REVIEW THAT'S THE RECORD OF MY FEELINGS, OF HOW I FELT WHILE I WAS WATCHING IT AND WHY, AND HOPEFULLY THE IDEAS THAT THE READER, BY READING THAT, CAN FIGURE OUT WHETHER HE OR SHE WILL LIKE THE MOVIE TOO.
HOPE SO, ANYWAY. WHEN YOU THINK OF A NEWSPAPER OFFICE, YOU USUALLY THINK OF PEOPLE SITTING AROUND BEING BANGING ON OLD TYPEWRITERS BUT WE HAVEN'T USED THOSE FOR A WHILE. IF YOU WATCH LOU GRANT, YOU KNOW THAT WE HAVE SWITCHED TO COMPUTERS. NOW I WILL WRITE MY REVIEW ON THIS COMPUTER TERMINAL.
 
Gene Siskel: 
I'M GIVING "THE BLACK MARBLE" TWO AND A HALF STARS. I DON'T KNOW WHAT EBERT GAVE IT. I WOULDN'T SEND MY BEST FRIEND TO GO SEE IT. THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS I DID LIKE AND THEN THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE AND THAT'S REALLY THE ESSENCE OF MY REVIEW. 
THAT'S WHAT I WILL TRY TO COMMUNICATE. FOR EVERY GOOD THING, I CAN COMMENT ON A BAD THING. THAT'S HOW I DECIDE TO START MY REVIEW WHICH IS ALWAYS A QUESTION, HOW DO YOU START? I START IT AS A NEWSPAPER REPORTER HERE AT THE TRIBUNE, SO I COME UP WITH THE NEWS LEDE, THE DOMINANT THING THAT I THINK ABOUT THE PICTURE AND THAT'S FOR EVERY GOOD THING I CAN NAME, I CAN NAME A BAD THING.
 
Roger Ebert: 
ONE OF THE THINGS I WILL REALLY GET INTO IN IS THE OFF BEAT NATURE OF THIS FILM, AND IT IS OFF BEAT, NOT JUST A STORY WHICH IS WEIRD ENOUGH BUT ALSO THIS ROMANCE BETWEEN THE TWO POLICE DETECTIVES. 
IT'S NOT OFTEN THAT I GET SO WRAPPED UP IN THE CHARACTERS THAT I CAN REALLY ACCEPT THEM AND FOLLOW THEM AS PLAUSIBLE, ACTUAL HUMAN BEINGS. I REALLY DID CHAIR.
 
Gene Siskel: 
IT'S A VERY UNEVEN KIND OF STRENGTH. ONE OF THE BIGGEST STRENGTH AND WEAKNESSES. THE COPS AND CREEPS, THE VETERINARIAN, THEY HANDLE THAT BEAUTIFULLY, THE EXTORTION PLOT, THAT'S VERY WELL DONE. THE PAT PART IS THE OTHER HALF  THE BAD PART IS THE OTHER HALF OF THE MOVIE, THE ROMANTIC PART. I THINK WAMBAUGH HAS A SURE KNOWLEDGE OF COPS AND CREEPS. I DON'T THINK HE HAS A VERY GOOD FIX ON ROMANTIC IDEAS. I THINK COPS ARE HARD BITTEN AND THEY THINK AT THE HAVE THE SOFT SIDE AND THE SOFT SIDE HE DOESN'T HANDLE VERY WELL. HERE'S ANOTHER THING THAT'S SPLIT, ONE GOOD BEING ONE BAD. HARRY DEAN STANTON, ONE OF MY FAVORITE ACTORS AND A LOUSY PERFORMANCE GIVEN BY PAULA PRENTISS. SHE THINKS SHE'S IN A "LOVE BOAT" SEGMENT.
STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES ALL THROUGHOUT "THE BLACK MARBLE" THAT'S WHAT'S IN MY REVIEW.
 
Roger Ebert: 
WHAT I FOUND MYSELF GETTING INTO WAS THE JUGGLING ACT THAT GOES ON IN THIS REVIEW. THERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT ELEMENTS AND YOU HAVE THE WHOLE BUSINESS OF KIDNAPPING THE DOG, THE SAD PLOT OF THE DOG'S LONELY OWNER, THE RUSSIAN SUBPLOT WITH ALL THE MUSIC AND QUOTING THE LYRICS AND SO FORTH THIS REALLY, WEIRD, BIZARRE CHASE SCENE WITH THE CHASE THROUGH THE KENNEL. YOU WOULD THINK THEY WOULD FLY APART BUT THE MOVIE WORKS TOGETHER AND IT ALL WORKS AT THE SAME TIME WHICH IMPRESSED ME AND THAT'S BASICALLY WHAT I SAID IN MY REVIEW RIGHT HERE. "THE BLACK MARBLE" IS A DELIGHTFULLY TWISTED COMEDY, CONSTANTLY SURPRISING US WITH ITS OFFBEAT CHARACTERS. THAT'S THE FIRST SENTENCE IN YOUR REVIEW IN THE "CHICAGO SUNTIMES." THREE AND A HALF STARS YOU GAVE IT. THAT'S A VERY ENTHUSIASTIC REACTION TO THE FILM. WE HAVE A BIG DISAGREEMENT.
 
Roger Ebert: 
I WAS SURPRISED HOW MUCH I LIKED THE FILM, ESPECIALLY SINCE IT STARTED SLOW. I NOTICED IN YOUR REVIEW, YOU GAVE IT NATURALLY TWO AND A HALF STARS AS YOU SAY, AND YOU SAY WAMBAUGH KNOWS COPS AND CREEPS BUT HE HAS COSMIC PRETENTION, AND IT UNDERCUTS THE FINE BITTER EDGE. BASICALLY, HE THINK YOUR DISAGREEMENT IS WITH THE WHOLE ROMANCE. YOU DON'T WANT THE FOXWORTH/PRENTISS COPLOT.
 
Gene Siskel: 
AS ACTED. I DON'T HAVE ANYTHING AGAINST ROMANCE BUT WHEN IT'S BADLY ACTED AND WHEN THERE'S ANOTHER PART OF THE MOVIE THAT SEEMS SO STRONG. THE DOG NAPPER, HARRY DEAN STANTON, A WONDERFUL PERFORMANCE. I REALLY LOVED HIM.
 
Gene Siskel: 
AND THEN WHEN I SEE IT NEXT TOGETHER, THEN I HAVE A SPLIT MOVIE AND I WANT TO PUSH FOR THE OTHER STUFF.
 
Roger Ebert: 
I HAVE TO ADMIT THAT THE SCENE YOU PICKED TO CRITICIZE PAULA PRENTISS' PERFORMANCE FOR WAS A GOOD CHOICE IN SHOWING A BAD PERFORMANCE, ERR SCENE IN THE POLICE CAPTAIN'S OFFICE WAS VERY BAD. AT THAT POINT IN THE MOVIE, I WAS THINKING, I DON'T LIKE HER. I DON'T KNOW WHERE THIS IS GOING. LATER ON SHE CAPTURED ME, THEIR ROMANCE CAPTURED IN ME AND I THOUGHT THE PERFORMANCE PICKED UP AND I WAS INVOLVED WHERE THERE WERE DOING.
 
Gene Siskel: 
I SAT THERE WHERE YOU WERE REVVING UP AND YOU FIND THE ODD SURPRISES WHICH YOU MENTION IN YOUR REVIEW, WHERE YOU ARE BEING SURPRISED I'M BEING ALTERNATINGLY PLEASED AND DISAPPOINTED AND I PUT THIS FILM AS CRITICS OFTEN DO, I PUT THIS FILM UP AGAINST THE LAST ONE THAT THE GUY DIRECTED "THE ONION FIELD" AND THERE TO, I FOUND THAT THE TOUGH WORLD OF CRIMINALS, BEAUTIFULLY HANDLED. HERE ALSO, BEAUTIFULLY HANDLED.

THAT'S HARRY DEAN STANTON. I WANT TO EMPHASIZE, THIS GUY IS UNKNOWN. I HOPE THIS FILM MAKES HIM THE STAR THAT HE REALLY DESERVES IN THE PUBLIC MIND, BUT, AGAIN, THERE'S THIS SOFT STUFF IN THERE. I DON'T KNOW.
 
Roger Ebert: 
SOFT STUFF?
 
Gene Siskel: 
DO YOU AGREE IN MY SPLIT AT ALL? DO YOU PREFER THE CREEP STORY?
 
Roger Ebert: 
I SEE THE SPLIT. I APPLAUD THE SPLIT. SO OFTEN IN A COP MOVIE, ONCE YOU ARE FAMILIAR WITH A GENRE AND YOU HAVE SEEN A DOZEN OR 100 MOVIES LIKE THIS, YOU KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN. HERE YOU DIDN'T KNOW. YOU COULD BE CONSTANTLY DELIGHTED BY TWISTS AND TURNS THAT THE PLOT WAS TAKING. HERE YOU COULD SAY, THIS DOG NAPPING THINGS IS INSANE BUT I'M INVOLVED IN IT. THEN HERE COMES THE ROMANCE. THEY ARE CRAZY. THEY ARE FUNNY. I ENJOYED THAT, THE WAY THAT THE MOVIE SEEMED TO FIND ITSELF FREE TO GO BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN VARIOUS TONES AND MOODS.
 
Gene Siskel: 
IF HE WAS EQUALLY GOOD IN HANDLING IT, I WOULD HAVE FELT THE SAME WAY. IT'S ONE THING TO MAKE A THRILLER, WHICH HE KNOWS HOW TO DO AND ANOTHER THING TO DO COMEDY. I DON'T THINK HE DOES.
 
Roger Ebert: 
I GAVE IT THREE AND A HALF STARS. I THINK IT'S A PRETTY GOOD MOVIE. USUALLY WHEN I GO TO THE MOVIES, I FEEL A SEPARATION BETWEEN MYSELF AND THE SCREEN. I'M IN THE SCREENING ROOM AND THE MOVIE IS ON THE SCREEN AND I'M THINKING ABOUT IT. HERE A VERY RARE THING HAPPENED, I GOT INVOLVED. I CARED AND THAT TO ME IS WORTH THREE STARS. THERE ARE OTHER GOOD THINGS IN THE MOVIE AND I THOUGHT THERE WERE.
 
Gene Siskel: 
A BIG SPLIT. THIS WAS TOTALLY UNPREPARED. WE PICKED THIS MOVIE AT RANDOM AND WE ENDED UP WITH A BIG DISAGREEMENT. SO MUCH WITH THE REVIEW FROM THE MOVIE CRITIC JOB. SO MUCH WHERE YOU CAN TELL YOUR BOSS YOU ARE GOING TO THE MOVIES AND HE DOESN'T MIND! WE'LL BE BACK AGAIN NEXT WEEK. UNTIL THEN, SEE YOU AT THE MOVIES.
 
Christy Lemire: 
OUR PROCESSES ARE VERY DIFFERENT. I DON'T TAKE NOTES ANYMORE. DID I WHEN I STARTED DOING THIS. MOSTLY IT'S MY GUT FEELING WALKING OUT OF A FILM.
 
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky: 
I DON'T TAKE NOTES DURING THE MOVIE. I TEND TO SIT FRONT ROW CENTER.
 
Christy Lemire: 
WHICH IS TOUGH FOR 3D, I'M GUESSING.
 
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky: 
I LIKE TO HAVE THE IMAGE OVERWHELM ME. I HAVE TINY HANDWRITING AND ANY NOTES I WOULD MAKE WOULD BE COMPLETELY USELESS. I MAKE NOTES AFTER I WATCH.
 
Christy Lemire: 
YOU DO FLOW CHARTS WITH STICKY NOTES AND EVERYTHING, DON'T YOU?
 
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky: 
I TAKE A DIFFERENT APPROACH. SOMETIMES THE BEST WAY TO ANALYZE A MOVIE IS PUTTING TOGETHER A TIMELINE, BUT HERE'S AN EXERCISE THAT PEOPLE CAN DO AT HOME. WHEN YOU GET HOME, TRY AND DRAW A MAP OF THE MAIN SET FOR THE FILM, LIKE THE MAIN CHARACTER'S HOUSE. YOU WOULD BE SURPRISED HOW OFTEN YOU CAN DO IT.
 
Christy Lemire: 
DO YOU TALK TO CRITICS AFTERWARDS WHEN YOU ARE WALKING OUT OF A SCREENING?
 
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky: 
I DO TOO.
 
Christy Lemire: 
THEY ARE FRIENDS TOO.
 
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky: 
YES AND THEY ARE GREAT SOUNDING BOARDS. WHAT GREATER SOUNDING BARD CAN YOU HAVE?
 
Christy Lemire: 
AND YOU DON'T WANT TO STEAL ANOTHER CRITIC'S THOUGHTS.
IT'S KIND OF TOUGH. JOIN US NEXT WEEK FOR ANOTHER SPECIAL LOOK BACK AT "SNEAK PREVIEWS" ALSO DON'T FORGET, YOU CAN FOLLOW THE DISCUSSION ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER. UNTIL THEN, THE BALCONY IS CLOSED.
 
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky: 
FOR MORE REVIEWS AND MORE FROM ROGER'S OFFICE, VISIT OUR WEB SITE AT EBERTPRESENTS.COM.