The documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired wasn't impressive enough for the Oscars or even a decent theatrical release, but its fugitive subject is confident the film at least has the legal power to exonerate him. And now, three decades after his conviction for having sex with a 13-year-old, Polanski is taking it back to court.
His lawyers filed a request late Tuesday for a judge to dismiss Polanski's statutory rape conviction, which resulted in the director's flight from the States before he could be sentenced. They claim the case's original judge, the late Laurence Rittenband (whom the doc depicts as a publicity-scarfing judicial derelict), was unduly influenced by a deputy district attorney not involved with the prosecution, but who advised Rittenband anyway. Their evidence: Wanted and Desired, which features clips of the deputy D.A. boasting about his manipulation:
In one encounter, [David] Wells told [his interviewer] “I was privy to almost everything that went on in that case.” At one point the deputy said he counseled the judge on sentencing. At another, he described prodding Judge Rittenband with a photograph of Mr. Polanski, then on bail, in the company of two young girls at an Oktoberfest celebration. “Look here. He’s flipping you off,” Mr. Wells said.
Hey, what's the problem? It was nothing, Wells maintains today, but the 75-year-old Polanski wants his name cleared (to the extent it can be), and he's not getting any younger. But will he be around for the hearing Jan. 21? The L.A. district attorney's office still insists he surrender before any review of his case moves forward; that will never wash with Polanski, who did 42 days in prison back in 1978 and, judging by the whole "flee to Paris in terror" episode that followed, has a marked distaste for incarceration.
Surely the parties can reach a compromise in the interim, say, Polanski must view his own, insufferable Bitter Moon on a loop during his long return flight to California, followed by an apology and his release on $500,000 bail pending his hearing. We're not lawyers, though — someone help us. Does that seem like an even trade?