DEEP FOCUS: Rosemary’s Baby
After making the cult oddities, Cul De Sac, and The Fearless Vampire Killers Roman Polanski directed his first big Hollywood production and a film that would become one of his most famous horror-thrillers. Based on the novel by Ira Levin, the story follows young newlyweds Guy (John Cassavetes) and Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow) as they move into the Bramford, a 19th century apartment building in New York City.
Using some board game letters, Rosemary Woodhouse (Farrow) discovers her kind neighbor Roman Castavet is using an anagram to hide the fact he is actually the son of an infamous satanic cult leader.
After arriving, they are introduced to an older couple, The Castavets, Minnie and Roman (Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer) who live next door. The neighbors seem friendly and Minnie is especially talkative and exurberant with her heavy “New Yawk” accent. As Rosemary sets up their new home, Guy is pursuing a job as a professional actor but is struggling a bit trying to get cast in different parts. One night after eating some odd tasting chocolate mousse Minnie dropped off as a little after dinner treat for her and Guy, Rosemary has a truly bizarre psychedelic nightmare about a group of people watching on as a demonic looking creature rapes her. When she awakes the next day, she explains this to Guy and finds scratch marks on her back. Soon after she finds out she is pregnant with the birth date set to be…June 28, 1966 (6/66).
As Rosemary gets closer to having her baby she notices all kinds of strange things going on at the building. She hears odd chanting coming from next door and begins experiencing stomach pains, causing her to worry about her own safety and the health of her baby. Rosemary becomes convinced there is some kind of conspiracy going on but Guy, The Castavets and even her kind physician Dr. Hill (Charles Grodin) persuade her that she’s just imagining everything and easily upset and moody because of her pregnant state.
Mia Farrow is so memorable in this role, giving Rosemary a doe-like waifish persona with shades of goofy humor. What is most striking is her physical appearance during her pregnancy. There’s no sign of a healthy happy mother to be, she instead looks closer to a walking skeleton with her cropped mop, pale skin and gaunt features. Her food cravings are even more strange, rather than the pickles and ice cream, she only wants raw steaks and chicken livers!
The film is a psychologically intriguing, atmospheric masterpiece as Polanski sets up layers of moods, both comical and bone chilling to attract and disturb the viewer. His style is pure Hitchcock, using mystery and small clues to slowly create a paranoia induced feeling bringing the audience into Rosemary’s psyche so we remain on the edge of our seats until the climactic ending that noone else could do to you like Polanski could!
The theme song, sung by Mia Farrow is a creepy little lullaby that opens and closes the movie.
FURIOUS FILM GEEK TRIVIA:
– Tony Curtis makes an audio cameo as Donald Baumgart the actor who Guy replaces after he suddenly goes blind. Note: Mia Farrow did not know who she was talking to on the phone during filming.
– B-movie producer extraordinaire William Castle can be seen as the man waiting outside the phone booth as Rosemary calls Dr. Hill.