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Rosemary's Baby is a 1968 Americanmarker horror/thriller film written and directed by Roman Polanski, based on the bestselling 1967 novel of the same name by Ira Levin. The film received mostly positive reviews and earned numerous nominations and awards. The film has led to numerous references in film, television, music and other media. The film was positioned 9th in the AFI's 100 Years…100 Thrills list.

Plot

The story focuses on Rosemary Woodhouse, a bright but somewhat naïve young housewife, and her struggling actor husband Guy, as they move into the Bramfordmarker, a New York Citymarker apartment building with a history of unsavory tenants and mysterious events. Their neighbors are an elderly and slightly absurd couple, Minnie and Roman Castevet, who tend to be meddlesome but seem harmless. Guy becomes unusually close to the pair while Rosemary tries to maintain a distance from them. Guy lands a role in a play when the actor originally cast suddenly and inexplicably goes blind. Soon afterwards he suggests that he and Rosemary have the child they had planned. On the night they plan to try to conceive, Minnie brings them individual ramekins of chocolate mousse, but Rosemary finds hers has a chalky undertaste and surreptitiously throws it away after a few tastes. Shortly afterward, she has a dizzy spell and passes out. She experiences what she perceives to be a strange dream in which she is raped by a demonic presence.

A few weeks later, Rosemary learns she is pregnant, and is due on June 28,1966 (6/66). She plans to be treated by Dr. Hill, recommended by her friend Elise, but the Castevets insist she see their good friend, famed obstetrician Dr. Sapirstein. For the first three months of her pregnancy, Rosemary suffers severe abdominal pains, loses weight, and craves raw meat and chicken liver. The doctor insists the pain will subside soon and assures her she has nothing to worry about. At the Castavets' New Year's Eve party, Roman raises a toast to "1966 - the Year One".

When her old friend Hutch sees Rosemary's wan appearance, he is disturbed enough to do some research, and he plans to share his findings with her but falls into a coma before they can meet. He subsequently dies but before he does instructs his friend Grace Cardiff to deliver the book about witchcraft on his desk to Rosemary. Photographs, passages in the text he marked, and the cryptic message "the name is an anagram" lead the young mother-to-be to realize Roman Castevet is really Steven Marcato, the son of a former resident of the Bramford who was accused of worshiping Satan. She suspects her neighbors are part of a cult with sinister designs for her baby, and Guy is cooperating with them in exchange for their help in advancing his career. She deduces that Dr. Saperstein is also a part of the conspiracy when his front desk clerk comments that he often smells of tannis root - a fungus called "Devil's Pepper" - which Rosemary also smells (a good luck charm given to her by Minnie is full of tannis root).

An increasingly disturbed Rosemary shares her fears and suspicions with Dr. Hill, who, assuming she is suffering from a hormonal imbalance, calls Dr. Sapirstein and Guy. The two men bring her home, at which point Rosemary goes into labor. When she awakens following the delivery of her baby she is told the child died shortly after birth. However, when she hears an infant's cries somewhere in the building, she suspects he still is alive. In the hall closet, she discovers a secret door leading into the Castevet apartment, where the coven meets, and finds the congregation gathered, worshipping her newborn son, the spawn of Satan. The coven urges Rosemary to become a mother to her son, Adrian. The film ends with her adjusting her son's blankets and gently rocking his cradle.

Cast



Production

Script

In Rosemary's Baby: A Retrospective, a featurette on the DVD release of the film, screenwriter/director Roman Polanski, Paramount Pictures executive Robert Evans, and production designer Richard Sylbert reminisce at length about the production. Evans recalled William Castle brought him the galley proofs of the book and asked him to purchase the film rights even before Random House released the publication. The studio head recognized the commercial potential of the project and agreed with the stipulation that Castle, who had a reputation for low-budget horror films, could produce but not direct the film adaptation.

Evans admired Polanski's European films and hoped he could convince him to make his American debut with Rosemary's Baby. He knew the director was a ski buff who was anxious to make a film with the sport as its basis, so he sent him the script for Downhill Racer with the galleys for Rosemary. Polanski read the book non-stop through the night and called Evans the following morning to tell him he thought it was the more interesting project, and would like the opportunity to write as well as direct it.

Casting

Polanski envisioned Rosemary as a robust, full-figured, girl-next-door type, and he wanted Tuesday Weld or his own wife Sharon Tate for the role. Since the book had not reached bestseller status yet, Evans was unsure the title alone would guarantee an audience for the film, and he felt a bigger name was needed for the lead. With only a supporting role in Guns at Batasi and the not-yet-released A Dandy in Aspic as her only feature film credits, Mia Farrow had an unproven box office track record, but her role as Allison MacKenzie in the popular television series Peyton Place and her unexpected marriage to Frank Sinatra had made her a household name. Despite her waif-like appearance (which would ultimately prove beneficial to the character, as Rosemary became more frail as her pregnancy progressed), Polanski agreed to cast her. Her acceptance incensed Sinatra, who had demanded she forego her career when they wed, and he served her divorce papers via a corporate lawyer, in front of the cast and crew midway through filming. In an effort to salvage her relationship, Farrow asked Evans to release her from her contract, but he persuaded her to remain with the project after showing her an hour-long rough cut and assuring her she would receive an Academy Award nomination for her performance.

Robert Redford was the first choice for the role of Guy Woodhouse, but he turned down the offer. Jack Nicholson was considered briefly before Polanski suggested John Cassavetes.

Sylbert was a good friend of Garson Kanin, who was married to Ruth Gordon, and he suggested her for the role of Minnie Castevet. He also suggested The Dakotamarker, an Upper West Sidemarker apartment building known for its show business tenants, be used for the Bramford. Its hallways were not as worn and dark as Polanski wanted, but when the building's owners would not allow interior filming, that became a moot point and it was used for exterior shots only.

Polanski wanted to cast Hollywood old-timers as the coven members but did not know any by name. He drew sketches of how he envisioned each character, and they were used to fill the roles. In every instance, the actor cast strongly resembled Polanski's drawing. These included Ralph Bellamy, Patsy Kelly, Elisha Cook, Jr., Phil Leeds, and Hope Summers.

When Rosemary calls Donald Baumgart, the actor who goes blind and is replaced by Guy, the voice heard is that of actor Tony Curtis. Mia Farrow, who had not been told who would be reading Baumgart's lines, recognized the voice but could not place it. The slight confusion she displays throughout the call was exactly what Polanski hoped to capture by not revealing Curtis' identity in advance.

Filming

Sydney Guilaroff designed the wig worn by Mia Farrow in the film's early scenes. It was removed to reveal the Vidal Sassoon hairdo that made headlines when Farrow cut her trademark long hair during filming of Peyton Place.

One of Mia Farrow's more emotionally charged scenes occurs in the midst of a party, when several of Rosemary's female friends lock Guy out of the kitchen as they console her in private. The scene was shot in a single day. That morning, just before the first take was filmed, a private messenger served Farrow with formal divorce papers from Frank Sinatra. As she read the documents, Farrow fell to her knees on the kitchen floor and openly wept in front of the cast and crew. Roman Polanski insisted that the day be canceled and filming be postponed until the next day, when he would start consecutively filming as many scenes as possible that did not contain Rosemary. Farrow openly would not accept this, insisting that nothing had changed. The day's filming concluded on time and without delay.

When Farrow was reluctant to film a scene that depicted a dazed and preoccupied Rosemary wandering into the middle of a Manhattan street into oncoming traffic, Polanski pointed to her pregnancy padding and reassured her, "no one's going to hit a pregnant woman".

Critical reception

Rosemary's Baby has a 98% "fresh" rating on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, with 46 of the 47 reviews being positive. In her review in the New York Times, Renata Adler said, "The movie - although it is pleasant - doesn't seem to work on any of its dark or powerful terms. I think this is because it is almost too extremely plausible. The quality of the young people's lives seems the quality of lives that one knows, even to the point of finding old people next door to avoid and lean on. One gets very annoyed that they don't catch on sooner."

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called it "a brooding, macabre film, filled with the sense of unthinkable danger. Strangely enough it also has an eerie sense of humor almost until the end. It is a creepy film and a crawly film, and a film filled with things that go bump in the night. It is very good...much more than just a suspense story; the brilliance of the film comes more from Polanski's direction, and from a series of genuinely inspired performances, than from the original story . . . The best thing that can be said about the film, I think, is that it works. Polanski has taken a most difficult situation and made it believable, right up to the end. In this sense, he even outdoes Hitchcock."

Variety stated, "Several exhilarating milestones are achieved in Rosemary's Baby, an excellent film version of Ira Levin's diabolical chiller novel. Writer-director Roman Polanski has triumphed in his first US-made pic. The film holds attention without explicit violence or gore . . . Farrow's performance is outstanding."

Impact

In the 1976 television movie Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby, Patty Duke starred as Rosemary Woodhouse and Ruth Gordon reprised her role of Minnie Castevet.

For the scene where Rosemary is raped by Satan, Rosemary's Baby ranked #23 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments. Contrary to an urban legend, Anton LaVey did not play the role of Satan in the rape scene of Rosemary's Baby. In fact it was actor Clay Tanner, and no technical advisor was used.

Awards and honors

Academy Awards

Golden Globes

Other awards

Remake

A 2009-2010 remake of Rosemary's Baby was briefly considered. The intended producers were Michael Bay, Andrew Form, and Brad Fuller. The remake fell through in late 2008.

In popular culture

Parodies



Music and T.V.

  • The Interpol song "Evil" from their 2004 album Antics makes reference to Rosemarys character in the first verse of the song.
  • The Metalcore band The Devil Wears Prada title of the song "Rosemary had an Accident" from their album Patterns Of A Horizon is a homage to the movie.
  • The Hardcore punk band Rosemary's Babies took the pluralized version of the title as a statement of their horror film influences.
  • Richard "Popcorn" Wylie's song "Rosemary, what happened?" is sung from the point of view of a friend who notices what is happening to her in her marriage, stating "he has the devil in his eye"
  • The band Twink covered the theme song using a variety of toy pianos.
  • The Tubes exclaim "Rosemary's Baby!" during the outro to the 1975 song "What Do You Want From Life".
  • Today Is the Day uses a (or several) sample(s) from this movie near the end of the song "Never Answer The Phone" off the album "Sadness Will Prevail"
  • The theme song to the film is covered by the band Fantomas in their album "Directors Cut"
  • Hardcore band Charles Bronson uses several sound clips from the film.
  • Laibach's 1992 Album "Kapital" samples the film on two tracks: "Kinderreich" (sampling Mia Farrow's vocals from the film's theme song) and "Sponsored By Mars" (sampling Maurice Evan's shouts of "Typhoon! Typhoon!" from the scene where Rosemary dreams she is aboard a ship.)
  • Other musical references to the film are by Deep Purple on "Why didn't Rosemary?", by Frumious Bandersnatch on "Rosemary's Baby" and by Samsas Traum on "Kamikaze!".
  • Outkast references Rosemary's Baby in the song Git Up, Git Out on their 1994 album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik: "I used to hang out with my daddy's brothers, I call them my uncles. They taught me how to smoke herb, I followed them when they ran numbers. So in a sense I was Rosemary's baby".
  • The Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper song, "Hands of Death ," contains dialogue from the film. The phrases exlcaimed by Sidney Blackmer during the film's climax -- "Satan lives!" and "Hail Satan!" -- can be heard in the song.
  • British progressive band Radio Massacre International released dark, ambient piece Rosemary's Baby on their 1995 album Frozen North.
  • In an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise Captain Archer mentions to Commander T'Pol that they were showing Rosemary's Baby in the mess hall for movie night. He assured the Commander that it would " Scare the hell out of her!"
  • In the movie Stay Tuned, when the kids flip through the channel trying to find their parents trapped in the demonic world of television, they see a commercial advertising a show called "Three Men & Rosemary's Baby." Three men sing a lullaby for the baby that vomits at them from its carriage.
  • In the action movie-spoofing film, Last Action Hero, when Jack Slater and Danny are about to be killed by Benedict on the rooftop of a cinema, he mentions a christening for Rosemary's baby as one of the things he can do with the magic ticket he stole from Danny.
  • In the sitcom Frasier Frasier refers to his agent Bebe Glazer as "Rosemary's Bebe" one of a number of references throughout the show to her satanic nature.
  • In the 1990s sitcom Roseanne, an entire episode of the ill-fated final season is a parody of Rosemary's Baby. Roseanne finds herself in a strange dream-like state where her pregnant daughter Darlene has Satan's son. Roseanne demands to speak to the baby's father, and ends up speaking to Satan himself, who has taken the form of Roseanne.
  • In the popular romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally, Harry and Sally are playing Pictionary with their friends. Sally draws a picture of a large mouth with numerous arrows shooting from it. No one is able to guess what it is, and Harry shouts "Rosemary's baby!" as a guess. It ultimately turns out the answer is "baby talk."
  • In the pilot episode of Gilmore Girls, Rory says to Dean, "Geez, you're like Ruth Gordon just standing there with the tannis root. Make a noise," when he startles her, to which Dean replies, "Rosemary's Baby. That's a great movie; you have good taste."
  • In a season-five episode of the sitcom Boy Meets World, while living next to a supposed clan of witches, Shawn approaches one, saying "So, Rosemary ... how's the baby?"
  • In episodes of season 4 of Reno 911, Lt. Dangle would guess that Wiegel's unborn child is likely Rosemary's baby, or, more bluntly, the Antichrist.
  • In the Grey's Anatomy episode "It's the End of the World", Bailey refers to her interns as "Rosemary's babies" because she can't tolerate them.
  • In an episode of That '70s Show, Laurie blames her mom about the situation that her dad is angry at her. Her mom replies, "Rosemary had a better baby than me."
  • In Cycle 5 of America's Next Top Model, Tyra Banks wants the beauty queen–esque contestant, Cassandra, to receive a Mia Farrow–Rosemary's Baby hairstyle. Cassandra refuses. However, Tyra later gives contestants Mollie Sue (cycle 6) and Megan (cycle 7) the style.
  • In an episode of Coach, Craig T. Nelson's character Coach Fox states he does not want Rosemary's baby.
  • The fourth episode of the second season of NBC sitcom 30 Rock is titled "Rosemary's Baby."
  • In the second-season opener of Earth: Final Conflict, as the character of Sibohan Beckett is giving birth to a hybrid child, the hacker Augur snidely answers a query as to what's going on by saying, "Does the movie Rosemary's Baby ring a bell?"
  • The Beautician and the Beast mentions a musical play of Rosemary's Baby, including the lyrics: "Tell me Ro, don't keep me waitin'." "This embryo belongs to Satan."
  • The X-Files episode "Terms of Endearment" is obviously inspired by "Rosemarys Baby".
  • In season 5 of Weeds , Nancy Botwin accuses the father of her child of making her life like Rosemary's baby after he builds her a private home birthing room.


Notes

  1. http://www.tcm.com/thismonth/article/?cid=89031&rss=mrqe
  2. New York Times review
  3. Chicago Sun-Times review
  4. Variety review
  5. " Imdb Entry Clay Tanner"
  6. " The Church of Satan by Micheal Aquino p. 17"
  7. Bay preps 'Rosemary' redo, Hollywood Reporter
  8. [1]


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