Release Year: 1968
Director: Roman Polanski
Writers: Roman Polanski (screenplay), Ira Levin (based on his 1967 novel Rosemary’s Baby)
Starring: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer, Maurice Evans, Ralph Bellamy
Rating: Won 1 Oscar: Best Supporting Actress (Ruth Gordon). Nominated for 1 Oscar: Best Adapted Screenplay. Won 1 Golden Globe: Best Supporting Actress (Ruth Gordon). Nominated for 3 Golden Globes: Best Actress – Drama (Mia Farrow), Best Screenplay, Best Original Screenplay.
Sunday Classic #276, week 40 2019
A young couple moves into a big old apartment building with some very strange neighbours. When the wife, Rosemary, becomes pregnant under mysterious circumstances, her husband’s behaviour changes and paranoia over the safety of her and her unborn child begins to control her life.
This eminent example of the horror genre is not only a great adaptation of Ira Levin’s superb source novel, it wa also instrumental in the resurgence of quality horror films, particularly related to the satanic, e.g. The Exorcist (1973) and The Omen (1976). Polanski (Chinatown, 1974) sets up the tense atmosphere right from the start, with the eerie lullaby-like theme playing over the credits. Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and her actor husband Guy (John Cassavetes) rents an appartment whose previous tenant had just died. Not long after they meet their peculiar and extremely curious neighbours Roman, played by Sidney Blackmeer (High Society, 1956), and Minnie, played by Ruth Gordon (Harold and Maude, 1971) in an Oscar winning performance. It is difficult to explain much of the plot without giving the whole thing away for first time viewers, so suffice it to say that satanism is involved as well as the baby Rosemary’s conceives after a horrifying and weird rape scene. The creeping horror escalates very slowly through the film and increases as Rosemary’s paranoia sets in. It is a brilliantly crafted thriller with great performances (especially from Farrow) and an iconic conclusion. Perhaps too slow for some, but I reckon most will agree that the iconic status of this film is merited. A true horror classic not to be missed.
According to Mia Farrow, the scene of Rosemary crossing the street in traffic was spontaneous and genuine. Farrow walked in to real traffic, assured by Polanski that “noone would hit a pregnant woman”. Polanski followed her with a hand-held camera as he was the only one willing to risk it.
In the scene where Rosemary calls Donald Baumgart (the actor who has gone mysteriously blind) Rosemary’s seems slightly confused. This is the effect Polanski wanted. He got it by not telling Mia Farrow beforeand who would be speaking the lines at the other end of the line and so she is trying to place the voice. The voice of Donald Baumgart is done by Tony Curtis.
Ira Levin called this “the single most faithful adaptation of a novel ever to come out of Hollywood.” Producar William Castle specualte that this might be because it was Polanski’s first time adapting the work of another writer and so did not feel free to change the story.
Picture Copyright: UIP