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
Paris-born Roman Polanski was brought up in Poland where he suffered the horrors of the nazi occupation before becoming a film maker who courted internal attention with his 1962 film Knife in the Water.
So, after its success winning the Fipresci prize at Cannes he decided to return to Paris, only to fail to make his mark due to a combination of French indifference and the cold war.
He set up shop in Britain in 1965 to write and direct a series of films co-scripted by Gerard Brach that would reveal many of the psychological themes that would become hallmarks of his future films,
Repulsion was a seriously disturbing drama that had parallels with Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958), Michael Powell's Peeping Tom (1960) and Joseph Losey's The Servant (1962).
Catherine Deneuve plays Carol, a Belgian woman living in London with her older sister Helen (Yvonne Furneaux) who is having an affair with a married man (Ian Hendry) which disgusts her.
Dream-walking through her days she refuses advances from Colin (John Fraser) - a sincere suitor who is baffled by her indifference, especially when he emphasises that he only wants to "look after her."
So, when Helen goes on holiday, she increasingly becomes reclusive and we watch a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown suddenly spiralling into insanity, accompanied by terrifying hallucinations.
Polanski pulls out all the surrealist tropes borrowed from exemplars like Luis Bunuel and Jean Cocteau to create claustrophobic scenarios with shifting shadows, rotting flesh and an unsettling, staccato score.
The scene is set for a shocking, possibly cathartic, murderous reaction.
The first is sparked by a sudden visit of the caring Colin seeking to apologise and reassure of his intentions.
The second by her creepy landlord (Patrick Whymark) who assaults her.
Just as Peeping Tom tried to make you see through the eyes of the victims Polanski wants us to concentrate on the predicament of a vulnerable woman.
Her aversion to sex is symptomatic of a fear of human contact, the irrational becomes the rationale.
Polanski was attacking misogynist movies of the time, by involving the audience in a cinematic conspiracy, before revealing the source of her trauma.
In hindsight, it might explain much in Polanski's future life.