Tom Cruise Mystery
The case of the doctored publicity photo.*
Correction: This piece raised questions about a photograph of Claus von Stauffenberg that appeared in a United Artists promotional campaign for the movie Valkyrie. The piece pointed out that the photo UA used looked more like Tom Cruise, the star of the film, than a similar-looking AP photo of von Stauffenberg. Because of insufficient photo research by Slate's editors, we failed to discover another archival image of von Stauffenberg, which appears to be the one UA used in its publicity campaign. As a result of this mistake, the question the piece raised—whether the photo had been doctored in an effort to make Claus von Stauffenberg look more like Tom Cruise—was unwarranted.
Parachini's office got in touch with HBO (as did we), and on Friday, HBO said that it was altering the documentary to reflect "new information" provided by the court. That must have been quite a scramble for something that airs tonight, especially since the allegation in question is kind of the film's punch line. HBO—which also will have to fix prints that are headed to theaters in July—did not say exactly how the revised ending will go. But presumably Fidler can relax.
Except that, inevitably, the film's premise is already well-established, since many outlets have already reported on it. A New York Times review from critic Manohla Dargis calls the film "sharply argued" before concluding: "Mr. Polanski survived the Holocaust and the murder of his wife, Sharon Tate, in 1969 by followers of Charles Manson. It was the American legal system that almost did him in."
In its coverage, the British Telegraph said "the legal shenanigans surrounding the case have continued in California," citing the supposed requirement that the trial be televised. And the paper argued that Polanski, meanwhile, has "lived a blameless, hard-working life in exile in France." Meanwhile, Polanki has expressed the view that he is innocent, that Americans are "prudish," and that he has "suffered enough." (link)
Correction, June 18, 2008: Because of an editing error, a promotional headline for this piece on Slate's home page originally referred to von Stauffenberg as a Nazi. He was a German officer but not a member of the Nazi Party.
Kim Masters is an NPR correspondent and the author of The Keys to the Kingdom: The Rise of Michael Eisner and the Fall of Everyone Else.
Historically accurate photograph of Claus von Stauffenberg from AP Photo. Photograph of Roman Polanski by Bill Bridges/Globe Photos, courtesy HBO.