Cross Purposes: Polanski and Huston

We have to understand how movies have taught us to feel. That spell is always waiting to take us beneath the tracery of storyline so that we may plunge into the pit of what the story is about. And why we are breathless to see what happens while wondering if we will ever escape the pit. The picture business says this is fun for all, but lasting spells are more complicated than that. It is evening, dusk, at one of the better homes in Beverly Hills. We are in the garden, by a pond. Our guy is there early, waiting, smoking a cigarette. We like this fellow a lot, though we know by now that he can be a chump. He is waiting for the bad man, the pivot of the mystery that our chump has been exploring. And because he got there early, we feel his superior position, and share in it. This is added to when the man he has called to the meeting arrives. This second man is older, not far short of elderly; he leans on a cane and his eyesight is not what it was. So then our guy nails the old man, tells him everything he knows. And what he knows is terrible, including the way the older man had raped his own daughter and become father to his grandchild. There is talk between the two of them, stealthy and maneuvering, so it seems. But something else emerges in the way the older man declines, in his urbane and polite way, to be ashamed or apologetic. The meeting is not quite what the chump anticipated. Noah Cross is a monster, but there is something serene about him that is entrancing. Really, that is the word. For in the way he admits his crimes and

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