Strippers, Cocaine and Murder: The Crazy (True) Story of Two Crooks’ Pursuit of a Soviet Submarine
Operation Odessa is such an unbelievably wild, entertaining documentary that the dullness of its title is a borderline crime against itself.
This is a movie (premiering on Showtime March 30) whose primary subject is a Russian gangster named Tarzan! Who owned a Miami strip club named after his favorite film, Porky’s! And with his close cohorts—a Miami playboy and a Cuban drug trafficker with close ties to Pablo Escobar, who remains to this day an international fugitive—this sleazy crook tried to buy a military submarine from the Russians on behalf of Colombia’s Cali drug cartel! With a premise like that, Tiller Russell’s non-fiction crowd-pleaser deserves a moniker far more colorful than its current one, which comes from the name of the government’s operation to catch these high-flying madmen. Grand Theft Submarine, perhaps?
Russell’s story wastes no time getting to its insanity. In an introductory interview clip, Ludwig Fainberg, aka Tarzan—a stout Russian man with a well-kept goatee and a smile that radiates equal pride and disbelief at his own behavior—recalls a phone conversation with one of his contacts about the aforementioned purchase, which ended with the question, “Do we want the submarine with missiles, or without missiles?” Cue the Miami Vice-ish credit sequence of a cigarette boat racing across the water set to the sounds of Scorpions’ “Winds of Change,” replete with “starring” and “introducing” designations for its cast of outrageous characters. Far from stolid non-fiction terrain, we’re in Cocaine Cowboys territory here: a stylish world of gleeful bad guys boasting about their very bad behavior for our shocked amusement.
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Author: By Nick Schager