(Stuart Margolin, 1984)
You can tell this is an HBO made-for-early-cable production because it has the square plotting and obtrusively mechanical detective voice-over of any TV movie of its time, but there's some forced swearing and implied sex and the bullets actually do kill people from time to time. There's also a real aura of gaudy sleaze, thanks no doubt to the Joseph Wambaugh source material but also perfect for convincing single guys in motels that their lives could be even worse. Quite a challenge to sustain a light comic undertow in a movie about a kiddie-porn ring, but this movie does a pretty good job at the balance: the desperate futility of everyday existence is played for bitter laughs by drunk codger cop James Garner and for pathos by Catholic divorcee cop John Lithgow. With Hollywood portrayed as ground zero in a family-values armageddon, the movie is also subject to the regrettable pitfalls of cop-flick sentimentality, but at least it's terse and punchy throughout - there's a lot of words here, man. Producer/director Margolin doesn't just cast himself as the unlikely yoga-prone studio mogul's son, he also furnishes the high-rolling sleazeball musical score. Margot Kidder has fun as a jaded starlet.