Picks and Pans Review: The Roman Polanski Story

updated 11/17/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/17/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Thomas Kiernan

Polanski was born on Aug. 18, 1933 in Paris, but this book begins March 11,1977 in Los Angeles, the day the Polish film director was arrested for furnishing Quaaludes to a minor (a girl, 13), child-molesting, unlawful sexual intercourse, rape by use of drugs, oral copulation and sodomy. Polanski has led a life even more sensational than his art. Kiernan sketches in Roman's fugitive childhood as a Jew in Nazi Poland and talks of his film career from experimental (Knife in the Water) to Hollywood horror (Rosemary's Baby). But the focus is on personal horror, including the death of Polanski's wife, Sharon Tate, at the hands of the Manson gang in 1969. In his Jane Fonda biography in 1973, Kiernan did some responsibly detailed reporting. This effort, based on his acquaintance with Polanski and talks with anonymous "intimates," takes a questionable you-are-there approach. One example: " 'You can take your top off now,' he had said to the nubile 13-year-old in Jack Nicholson's hot tub." It is more a gossipy rehash than a well-drawn profile of a complex, disturbed and disturbing talent. (Delilah/Grove Press, $12.95)

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