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Dance of the Vampires

Neal Ascherson, 19 January 1984

by Roman Polanski.
Heinemann, 393 pp., £12.95, January 1984, 0 434 59180 7
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... I am widely regarded, I know, as an evil, profligate dwarf.’ So declares Roman Polanski, moodily kicking his souvenirs about on the last page of this autobiography. Of all the films he never made, the most revealing might have been the project he cooked up years ago in Paris for a sexually-explicit Snow White, with a mongoloid news vendor from St Germain-des-Prés as Prince Charming, a homosexual yodelling choir as musical accompaniment and a troupe of midget wrestlers to play the Seven Dwarves ...


Jenny Diski: Rape-Rape, 5 November 2009

... it no more than mildly interesting in a world full of more interesting events when I read that Roman Polanski had been imprisoned in Switzerland prior to being extradited to the US on a 30-year-old charge of rape. But, increasingly, in the news, on Facebook, Twitter, the LRB blog and in conversation, I’ve been reading the argument between those who ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Ghost Writer’, ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’, 22 April 2010

The Ghost Writer 
directed by Roman Polanski.
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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 
directed by Niels Arden Oplev.
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... except one, stationary, driverless. In the next shot we see a body washed up on a beach. The film, Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer, looks gleaming and beautiful throughout – the cameraman is Pawel Edelman, who also shot Polanski’s The Pianist, as well as Taylor Hackford’s glossy biography of Ray Charles. This ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood’, 12 September 2019

... the street outside his house. His character is fictional, of course, but he does live next door to Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate. Let’s pick up the story a little earlier. DiCaprio plays Rick Dalton, the once-upon-a-time star of a television series called Bounty Law. He was the man who killed the bad guys and collected the money. Now he still makes a ...


A. Craig Copetas: Yaaaggghhhh, 25 June 1992

... characters are stuck in. Webb locked himself in a closet after reading this book, screaming that Roman Polanski was coming to get him. As soon as I make it out of Tashkent and back to Paris, I intend to rip my shirt off, run into the street, and start spitting garlic at the first English couple I can find honeymooning in France. ‘June came to God in ...

Predatory Sex Aliens

Gary Indiana: Burroughs, 8 May 2014

Call Me Burroughs: A Life 
by Barry Miles.
Twelve, 718 pp., £17, January 2014, 978 1 4555 1195 2
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... ugly feelings surges across the global clothesline at the mere mention of ‘Woody Allen’ or ‘Roman Polanski’ in the press; Burroughs, too, has an anti-claque of Torquemada wannabes, enraged over his accidental shooting of his wife in 1951. Social media can launch a witch hunt or pogrom just as readily as a ‘progressive’ uprising, and in either ...

Miss Lachrymose

Liz Brown: Doris Day’s Performances, 11 September 2008

Doris Day: The Untold Story of the Girl Next Door 
by David Kaufman.
Virgin, 628 pp., £29.95, June 2008, 978 1 905264 30 8
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... he knew that Terry and Candice Bergen had moved out of their house on Cielo Drive and that Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate had moved in, some believe that the murders he committed there were in part a warning to Doris Day’s son. Terry descended into what we might call a ‘dark place’. Shotgun by the door, pistol next to the bed, lots of ...

Into a Blazing Oven

Lili Owen Rowlands: Virginie Despentes, 17 December 2020

Vernon Subutex Three 
by Virginie Despentes, translated by Frank Wynne.
MacLehose, 306 pp., £14.99, June, 978 0 85705 982 6
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... Virginie Despentes gone soft? Perhaps a little. Her most recent journalistic interventions – on Roman Polanski and the sexism of the French film industry; on race and police violence – still seethe and are written with a rhetorical zip that has seen them usefully appropriated at protests. ‘On se lève et on se casse’ (‘we’re getting up and ...

The way out of a room is not through the door

Christian Lorentzen: Charles Manson, 7 November 2013

Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson 
by Jeff Guinn.
Simon and Schuster, 495 pp., £20, August 2013, 978 0 85720 893 4
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... Melcher’s old residence on Cielo Drive: the one place Manson was sure famous people were living. Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate had just rented the house. Polanski was abroad. The pregnant Tate had appeared in Valley of the Dolls and Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers but was ...

Narco Polo

Iain Sinclair, 23 January 1997

Mr Nice: An Autobiography 
by Howard Marks.
Secker, 466 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 0 436 20305 7
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Pulp Election: The Booker Prize Fix 
by Carmen St Keeldare.
Bluedove, 225 pp., £12.99, September 1996, 0 9528298 0 0
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... from Saudi Arabia.’ A few stiff drinks in the Paris nightclub and he carried it off – until Roman Polanski walked in with his usual compliment of nymphets. ‘Roman, this is Andrew Lloyd Webber.’ Time to run. The first chapter of the book, the prison time, was worked through many drafts. It’s the ...

My Darlings

Colm Tóibín: Drinking with Samuel Beckett, 5 April 2007

... And then Sean O’Casey who was poor and nearly blind. All of them baptised into the wholly un-Roman and highly Protestant church. And none of them believed a word of it except poor Lady Gregory, who hoped for heaven. It must be fun not believing in anything, and having your fellow countrymen wanting you to clear off to England because of the very religion ...

Don’t abandon me

Colm Tóibín: Borges and the Maids, 11 May 2006

Borges: A Life 
by Edwin Williamson.
Penguin, 416 pp., £9.99, August 2005, 0 14 024657 6
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... capricious and mad and permanently horny, a wealthy pair of monsters, like two figures in an early Polanski film. Then in 2004 came Epifanía Uveda de Robledo, or Fanny, Borges’s maid. She had revenge on her mind, for the slights inflicted on her by Borges’s mother and the injuries, real or imaginary, inflicted by Maria Kodama, whom Borges married some ...

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