It’s so much fun expecting a baby, what with the shopping for little booties and preparing the baby’s room, a new mom-to-be is practically glowing with expectations. But when that little bundle of joy growing inside her is from Hell, she might want to rethink those birth announcements to friends and family. Rosemary’s Baby was birthed in the late sixties and we haven’t recovered since.
The 1968 film directed by Roman Polanski was based on the bestselling novel by Ira Levin and starred Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Ralph Bellamy, Maurice Evans, and Charles Grodin. Rosemary’s Baby was Polanski’s first film made in America.
Guy (John Cassavetes) and Rosemary (Mia Farrow) Woodhouse move into an old apartment building. It’s all they can afford because Guy is a struggling actor. The apartment has its share of strange but seemingly harmless tenants who take an interest in the young couple; too much of an interest if you ask me. It isn’t long into the film that you start to suspect that these neighbors are more than a little strange, especially when a young woman who Rosemary befriends falls to her death from the Castevetes’ seventh story apartment window.
Rosemary and Guy are eager to have a child, but on the night that they want to conceive, Rosemary is drugged and wakes up the next day with strange scratches and vivid sexual flashbacks that have nothing to do with her husband. When Mia shows Guy the scratches, he has the gall to tell her that even though she was unconscious, he had sex with her anyway. What a jerk! Adding to Rosemary’s suspicions that things are not what they seem is the memory of a demon attacking her. Is her husband part of a conspiracy? Did he sell his soul or that of Rosemary’s just to succeed? It seems so when his career takes off after a freak accident with the lead star of the show. In fact, there are a lot of strange accidents going around, especially to those who are close to Rosemary.
Rosemary’s joy over her pregnancy soon turns to fear. Her pregnancy is extremely painful and she finds herself craving raw meat. Her neighbors recommend a doctor (Ralph Bellamy) who advises her to drink a foul tasting concoction with the understanding that it will help with her pain. Hutch (Maurice Evans) a good friend of Rosemary goes into a coma before he can tell her what he’s discovered. Rosemary begins to put events together after a friend of Hutch gives her a book.
In my younger days, I’ve lived in apartment buildings that were not in the safest of areas and featured a few tenants who I seriously doubt were from the planet Earth, but they weren’t as evil as Rosemary’s neighbors. Rosemary panics when she learns the true identity of her neighbors; they are all witches and devil worshipers and good ol’ husband, Guy, is helping them.
No one believes Rosemary’s claims not even her new Ob/Gyn doctor (Charles Grodin). Forcibly taken back to her apartment, Rosemary goes into labor. She’s told that her baby died during birth, but when she learns that the baby is alive, her maternal instincts kick in. Mind you, even though the kid has a mug that only a mother could love (he’s the spitting image of Satan) that doesn’t stop Rosemary. That’s her kid and she’s going to love it.
This movie not only received high praise for the sometimes queasy but horrifying subject matter, but several of its stars received awards: Mia won the Golden Globe Award and Ruth Gordon won the Academy Award for best supporting actress. It is listed as number nine of the American Film Institute’s 100 Years, 100 Thrills list.
Polanski’s first choice to play Rosemary wasn’t Mia Farrow, but Tuesday Weld or his wife, Sharon Tate. In the end, Polanski decided on Mia Farrow getting the coveted role of Rosemary. Maybe Polanski liked how Mia carried herself in the part of Allison MacKenzie on the then popular television series called “Peyton Place,” but it most likely had to do with scandalous marriage between Mia and Frank Sinatra. It was the talk of the town, when the still handsome but much older singer and actor married Mia who was only twenty-one at the time. Polanski probably figured the scandal surrounding Mia would favor the box office numbers.
The film was not only freaking scary, but it was cursed. Don’t believe me, well, here are just a few examples: Sinatra divorced Mia while she was filming the movie. Sinatra wanted her to live in Las Vegas with him and not work. A year after the movie’s release, Polanski’s pregnant wife, Sharon, was brutally murdered along with four other people by the crazy followers of Charles Manson. Even the building was cursed.
John Lennon was killed in front of the Dakota. It was the very same building where Rosemary’s Baby was filmed. Remind me not to rent a room there.
There was a mini series out this year of Rosemary’s Baby, but the setting was in Paris and starred Zoe Saldana as Rosemary and Patrick J. Adams as Guy. The mini series did not do as well as the original. Some films are just perfect the first time around.