If it wasn’t for the fact that he’d be arrested as soon as he stepped foot on US soil, we’re sure he’d be heading to Disneyland! Roman Polanski triumphs over the libelous Vanity Fair, winning Â£50,000 and the satisfaction of knowing that, despite being world-renowned for bonking a thirteen-year-old, his reputation has been saved from scurrilous CondÃ© Nast-inspired untruths regarding the lines of choice he’d use when hitting on the ladies, pre- or post-Sharon Tate‘s funeral.
In the Observer, Henry Porter, Vanity Fair‘s London editor, retorts that it was unfair that Polanski was allowed to testify via video link (he was afraid that if he appeared in London, where the trial was being held, he’d be extradited), which he felt "conferred an aura of specialness around Polanski – a man who, in his seventies, still possesses considerable charisma." Porter also insists that libel cases in the UK are weighted against the defendant, and closes by hinting at what VF editor in chief Graydon Carter, quoted in the New York Times, states full out:
I find it astonishing that a man who lives in France can be permitted to sue a magazine published in America in a British courtroom. And that he can do so without ever having to show up in person. Furthermore, as a father of four children, one of whom is a 12-year-old daughter, I find it equally outrageous that this story is considered defamatory to a man who can’t be here because he slept with a 13-year-old-girl and has been a fugitive from justice for more than a quarter of a century.
We can’t say we feel for either side Polanski has had far worse things to worry about, reputation-wise, than some gossip dropped into an article about Elaine’s, and Vanity Fair should do a better job of fact-checking, particularly when it comes to something as possibly injurious as this. Either way, the amount of money exchanged is doubtless nominal to both parties, and the real loser here is the public, who’s been forced to endure far more information about Polanski’s personal life, which we now know included plenty of philandering and the odd threesome, than anyone dreamed possible.
Also in the Observer, Philip French muses on the man’s life along with what’s been ignored in the scuffle, his impressive body of films.