Roman Polanski was unable to tell the truth when it mattered, lawyers said on Tuesday in a libel trial in which the film director is testifying via video link from Paris.
The 71-year-old is suing publishers of Vanity Fair magazine for a 2002 article which alleged he tried to seduce a "Swedish beauty" while on the way to his slain wife's funeral in 1969.
Thomas Shields, lawyer for Vanity Fair's publishers Conde Nast, has focused on Polanski's sexual past and his hazy memory to undermine his dismissal of the article as false.
Watched by Hollywood actress Mia Farrow, who will be a witness for Polanski, his ability to recall events more than 30 years ago was questioned under cross-examination.
Addressing Polanski, Shields said he had an "inability to tell the truth when it matters," and added: "The line between fantasy and reality has been hopelessly blurred."
The director, who shed tears at one point on Tuesday, responded by questioning the memory of those who alleged the incident took place at Elaine's restaurant in New York.
"I am more and more astonished by this phenomenal memory these people have," he said.
Shields told Polanski he had put his hand on the thigh of the woman at Elaine's, to which he replied: "No more 'between the thighs?"' The article uses the phrase "inside her thigh."
Polanski is giving evidence from Paris as he is wanted in the United States after pleading guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977. He would risk extradition if he came to England to fight his case but cannot be extradited from France, where he was born.
Polanski's wife, Sharon Tate, was stabbed to death by followers of the Charles Manson clan in 1969 when she was eight-and-a-half months pregnant.
SEX LIFE EXPOSED
Polanski has admitted in court to having sex with a woman within one month of Tate's death, and within four months of the murder seeking solace in sex with "nubile" teenagers from finishing school in Gstaad, Switzerland.
On Tuesday, the court was played an extract from a lie detector test Polanski took after the Tate murders to clear himself of any suspicion.
Inaudible in court, Shields read an extract in which Polanski admitted to having sex with a "couple" of air stewardesses shortly after his wife's death.
"I did not have sex with two air stewardesses, certainly not at the same time," the director said. "It would be something that I would not miss if I had the opportunity," he added.
Both sides now agree the alleged incident in Elaine's in New York could not have happened on the way to Tate's funeral because Polanski flew direct from London to Los Angeles to attend it.
Vanity Fair said the gist of the article is true, and intends to call Lewis Lapham, the source of the Polanski anecdote, to the witness stand. Polanski denies it ever took place.