The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
ENO's production of La Boheme is a triumph,
After the award-winning film Rosemary's Baby (1968), Roman Polanski suffered a creative lull until he revived his fortunes in 1974 with a homage to the film-noir detective drama called Chinatown.
The difference being, Polanski produces a parody, with his jaded private eye JJ "Jake" Gittes (Jack Nicholson) confounding the conventions of the genre by getting everything wrong.
Simply, while Gittes looks the part, he continually fails to walk the talk after being hired by mysterious woman (Diane Ladd) to tail her supposed errant spouse Hollis (Darrell Zwerling).
Hollis is the head of the LA Water and Power and the film is inspired by the real-life scandal of corrupt capitalism during the California Water Wars of the 1910s and 1920s.
However, she isn't who she appears to be as he learns when accosted by Evelyn Mulwray (Faye Dunaway) whose husband was the former business partner of her ruthless father Noah Cross (John Huston).
At each turn of the investigation the complications are designed to create a shoal of red herrings while he is reminded of reality when a henchman of the water company (Polanski) slits his nose.
There's a stench all right and like the pipeline we have to follow a trail that will lead him and Evelyn to satisfy their lust before he literally has to slap the truth out of her.
Cross sums up his situation: "You see, Mr Gits, most people never have to face the fact that, at the right time and the right place, they're capable of anything."
As the complications mount and the multi-layered mystery starts to unravel it suggests something more sinister - a plot spawned by incest.
The epilogue summed it up - it was Polanski's view of Hollywood film despite being hailed by the critics and garnering 11 Oscar nominations, winning Best Screenplay.
He fled to Europe after being charged with child rape - a repulsive exile.
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