For some reason, the excellence of novelist and former cop Joseph Wambaugh's work never seems to translate well to the screen. In THE BLACK MARBLE, Robert Foxworth and Paula Prentiss make an unlikely loving couple, and pull off the romance perfectly, but the picture fails is its segmented quality. More an amalgam of little touches than a driving, forceful story, the film is almost a comedy, but not quite, and almost a hard-hitting, realistic police film, but not quite. Police sergeant Valnikov (Foxworth) is a burnt-out drunk; Sgt. Natalie Zimmerman (Prentiss) is the colleague he must team with. Barbara Babcock gives a fine performance as a frustrated woman who channels all of her sexuality into the care and feeding of her show dog.