Gorky Park [1983]

Martin Cruz Smith's bestselling mystery novel seemed ideally cast for this movie version, but director Michael Apted and the usually reliable writer Dennis Potter couldn't solve the problem of taking the story from the page to the screen. William Hurt plays Renko, a Cold War-era Moscow police detective who must cope with both crooks and Communist party protocol as he tries to solve a murder case in the middle of one of Moscow's public parks that leaves three faceless corpses. The strands of the mystery involve corruption, American money, and the fur trade and, ultimately, take Renko to New York. But the tension is never all there, despite a deliciously menacing performance by Lee Marvin as the bad guy and Brian Dennehy as an American cop who becomes Renko's ally. --Marshall Fine

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