There was a one-of-a-kind cinematic event on Saturday in San Francisco. Following a screening at the Roxie theater of the 1974 classic Chinatown, director Roman Polanski beamed onto the screen via Skype (at around 11:30 p.m. Paris time) for a Q&A with producer Thom Mount, with whom he collaborated on several subsequent film projects.
Freelance writer Pam Grady notes in her weekend coverage that Polanski bristled at Mount’s suggestion the the LA featured in the film was make-believe. “That LA existed,” he said. “We were trying to be historically correct. Bob [Robert Evans] loves the city of Los Angeles and he was inspired by it.”
Mount observed that Polanski’s career has been marked by outstanding performances by actresses: Catherine Deneuve in Repulsion, Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby, Nastassja Kinski in Tess — and Faye Dunaway in Chinatown. Polanski said that in each case, he’d enjoyed good working relationships with those women, with the exception of Dunaway.
At one point on the set of Chinatown, Dunaway was backlit and a single rogue hair would not stay put on her expertly coiffed head. After several unsuccessful attempts to tame it, Polanski approached the actress and yanked it out. “This sent her into a crisis,” Polanski recalled mournfully.