Diary of Forbidden Dreams (1973)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Roman Polanski's surreal story of a hitchhiker's sexual odyssey. Sydne Rome, Marcello Mastroianni. Joseph: Hugh Griffith. Giovanni: Romolo Valli. Priest: Guido Alberti. Tony: Gianfranco Piacentini. Jimmy: Roger Middleton. Mosquito: Roman Polanski.
Art House & International , Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Carlo Ponti Productions


Sydne Rome
as Nancy
Hugh Griffith
as Joseph
Romolo Valli
as Giovanni
Guido Alberti
as Priest
Roman Polanski
as Mosquito
John Karlsen
as Edward
Birgitta Nilsson
as Naked Girl
Mario Bussolino
as Young Oaf #2
Pietro Tordi
as Servant
Luigi Bonos
as Big Painter
Nerina Montagnani
as Chambermaid
Alvaro Vitoli
as Small Painter
Renee Langer
as Naked Girl with Hat
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Diary of Forbidden Dreams

All Critics (9) | Top Critics (3)

The girl, the villa and the performances are beautiful enough to bridge those sequences when the film, like its heroine, seems searching for explanations that will never be found.

Full Review… | March 27, 2013
New York Times
Top Critic

All suitably throwaway, it's held together by our own curiosity and Polanski's obvious delight in observing such strange goings-on in rich summer villas.

Full Review… | March 27, 2013
Time Out
Top Critic

I wonder how much Carlo Ponti gave Roman Polanski to make Diary of Forbidden Dreams. Ten cents would have been excessive.

Full Review… | August 7, 2007
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Stupid, clumsy, pretentious and sexist drivel from Roman Polanski -- easily the worst picture of his career.

Full Review… | May 7, 2016
Creative Loafing

The dialogue is as limp as the reactions of its audience are likely to be, and the only mystery is why an immensely talented film-maker like Polanski should have turned his finger to it.

Full Review… | March 11, 2015
The Spectator

A terrible self-indulgent piece of misogynist trash from an otherwise great director.

Full Review… | March 27, 2013

Audience Reviews for Diary of Forbidden Dreams


If you wonder why a film Roman Polanski directed during his prime is so forgotten, you obviously haven't seen "What?" Alternately known as "Diary of Forbidden Dreams" (ugh), this voyeuristic romp seems descended from Terry Southern's "Candy" and Playboy's "Little Annie Fanny" comic. Except it's not funny. It's barely even sexy. Curly-haired beauty Synde Rome stars as Nancy, an American hitchhiker who flees a poorly chosen ride in Italy and stumbles into a luxurious, beachfront getaway. Like Candy and Annie, she's a naive, manipulable blonde who somehow keeps losing her clothes. Aww, how embarrassing for the poor dear. During most of the film, she has one leg painted blue and wears only a borrowed pajama top. It's not worth explaining. The idyllic home is owned by an old invalid (character actor Hugh Griffith, Britain's answer to Jack Elam). But he has multiple guests and caretakers, including the ubiquitous Marcello Mastroianni. Marcello takes a shine to sweet Nancy and soon has her indulging his favorite fantasy, which involves being playfully whipped as he crawls around in a tiger skin. Grrr. In a later scene, Marcello talks to a tree. This was not his proudest role. Other visitors include a woman who casually walks around nude, a Mozart-loving pianist (his duets with Nancy are quite enjoyable as music), two ping-pong addicts and a hip priest who eventually gets kicked in the groin. Most of them have some sort of lurid interest in Nancy. Polanski himself appears as a trivial imp nicknamed "Mosquito." It's easy to see why women found him so adorable. Rome is not a bad actress, and indeed is still working today. But even Mastroianni can't salvage this tired, aimless script. Following this disaster, Polanski's next project was a little noir tale called "Chinatown."

Eric Broome
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

The copy of this I rented from the library was pretty messed up, but from what I saw, this was a good movie. An interesting comedy from Polanski.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer


Escaping from an attempted rape, an American ingenue (Sidney Rome) hitchhiking through Italy loses her clothes and finds a villa populated with eccentric characters, including a lecherous ex-pimp (Marcello Mastroianni). An absurdist sex comedy that's plenty absurd, mildly sexy, and not one bit funny. Roman Polanski sandwiched back-to-back flops (MACBETH and this) between the classics ROSEMARY'S BABY and CHINATOWN in an attempt to win the title of "most uneven director in history."

Greg S
Greg S

Super Reviewer

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