Roman Polanski: Behind the Scenes of His Classic Early Films.
By Jordan R. Young
Applause (Forthcoming December 2022)
Between his 1962 debut A Knife in the Water and the 1968 blockbuster Rosemary’s Baby, Roman Polanski directed three movies—Repulsion, Cul-de-Sac, and The Fearless Vampire Killers—that remain a crucial but too often overlooked piece of his filmography. In this remarkable behind-the-scenes look at the director’s early output, Jordan Young gives us a revealing look at Polanski at work in the years before his rise to global infamy. Full of eye-opening, freshly unearthed details, we see Polanski laboring on movies under some of the worst possible conditions, contending with financing nightmares (both Repulsion and Cul-de-Sac were underwritten by soft-core porn peddlers), poisonous enmities amongst cast and crew, and collaborators who, in the director’s words, “did their best to make me feel like a monster.”
Polanski the provocateur is in full view here, deploying such unusual methods as slaughtering chickens to provide real blood for an actor’s death scene. While never shying away from unflattering or shocking details, Young still provides a nuanced and measured portrait of his subject—a rare look at a controversial artist in the act of creation.
About the Author: Jordan R. Young is a journalist, film and performing arts historian and playwright whose work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, travel guides, trade journals, and online media. He has written 12 books and more than 1000 articles. His research and writing have been acclaimed for their excellence in Time, Publishers Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, and The Hollywood Reporter.
King Vidor’s The Crowd: The Making of a Silent Classic (Past Times Publishing, 2014), a study of the 1928 film widely considered the best silent picture ever made. (The Huffington Post: “One of the best film books of 2014.” Kevin Brownlow, Academy Award-winning film historian: “Jordan Young’s research is worthy of his subject. I read it at one gulp, and found it as fascinating as I had hoped.”)
Spike Jones Off the Record: The Man Who Murdered Music (BearManor Media, 2005), a biography and career study of the World War II era bandleader. (The Los Angeles Times: “Looks for the real Spike Jones. Not simply another glowing Hollywood biography... objectively covers the ups and downs of Jones’ career.” San Francisco Examiner: “By the time you’re finished, you’ll know more about the music business than perhaps you wanted to--and you’ll also have a nifty perspective on American social history in the 1940s.”)
The Laugh Crafters: Comedy Writing in Radio and TV’s Golden Age (Past Times Publishing, 1999), a volume of interviews with Hollywood’s top comedy writers about the days of live broadcasting. (Sherwoood Schwartz, Emmy Award-winning creator of The Brady Bunch: “A seminal book. For anyone interested in the history of show biz, an absolute must. The book has such honesty. This is the way it really was...how it happened, how the great comedy shows came together.”)
The Beckett Actor: Jack MacGowran, Beginning to End (Moonstone Press, 1987), a biography of the Irish stage and screen actor. (Publishers Weekly: “A sparkling biography of a haunting and haunted man.” Martin Esslin, author, Theatre of the Absurd: “Meticulously researched...essential [to] our understanding of the life and work of Samuel Beckett.”