Retro Reviews: Rosemary’s Baby (1968)


In my quest to review many of the great horror flicks of the past, I’ve purposely held onto this one. If asked, I would reply that this is my favourite film of the genre and of all time. The film is populated by wonderful actors- old and young, an incredibly realistic storyline and fabulous directing. It has no loose ends, no awkward moments and is more suspenseful than horrific. The personal, pregnant journey of Rosemary Woodhouse (superbly played by Mia Farrow) along with the eventual unfolding of her nightmare reality makes us stay with her through every detail of her personal discovery.

Rosemary's Baby (1968)

Retro Reviews:Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Not only does she fear for the life of her unborn child but her anguish mounts as she begins to suspect that hubby (John Cassavetes) has made a pact with the witches next door. Actors like Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer who perfectly play the eccentric, irritating and  increasingly disturbing  Minnie and Roman Castevet to an impeccable tee, along with the incredible direction of Roman Polanski (his first American film) only add to the iconic powerhouse presented in this film. Polanski has taken a great novel of the same name by Ira Levine and showcased it faithfully and some have even ventured- more successfully than the book. Readers are delighted that every detail from the novel stays in tact.

Rosemary's Baby (1968)

All Of Them Witches

In the beginning we are introduced to the Woodhouses- a chique, up and coming  young couple who move into a fabulous historical building fictitiously called the Bramford in New York City. It’s expensive look and brooding atmosphere perfectly sets the mood and circumstance of the story.Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 11.15.33 AM

However, we soon discover that the impressive Bramford has previously housed a few unsavoury characters. The cannibalistic Trench Sisters being part of the previously ghastly tenants. This news only adds to the suspense and the dark, frightening atmosphere. We begin to feel a sense of oppressive danger. Will this nasty business from the history of the building somehow affect likeable, sweet, Rosemary Woodhouse and her up and coming actor-husband? We don’t have long to speculate before an exquisite performance by Rosemary throws us right in and we begin to relate strongly with her, following her through each nightmarish suspicion.

Retro Reviews: Rosemary's Baby (1968)

Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer

We feel her annoyance and exasperation with the ever-nosy Minnie Castevet whose incessant interfering and watchful presence heavily tries our patience. We remain with Rosemary in her pain and we  panic with her when she realizes her doctor may not be working with her best interests in mind.

This vicarious ‘relating to Rosemary’  is what makes the movie so great; it works so well right up until she goes into the dreaded and dreadful apartment, shiny steel blade in hand, to face the enemy. I am tempted to give this movie a 10 rating but there has to be something I missed somewhere, so I will settle with 9.5/10.

Rosemary's Baby (1968)

The Unthinkable

Some interesting facts about the filming of Rosemary’s Baby:

-Any outside shots of the exterior of the building which becomes the Woodhouse’s new home are of the Dakota, the actual, historic Central Park West Apartment building that John Lennon lived in at the time he was shot.

-Ira Levin, the author of the novel-Rosemary’s Baby, named the apartment building in his novel- the Bramford- after Bram Stoker, author of Dracula.

-In the movie, there’s a scene where, Rosemary telephones Donald Baumgart, the actor who went mysteriously blind and lost a key acting part to Rosemary’s husband- Guy. Unbeknownst to Mia Farrow- the disembodied voice on the phone was that of Tony Curtis- a surprise element about which even Mia Farrow wasn’t aware.

-The lullaby sung at the beginning of the movie, while the credits roll, is actually the voice of Mia Farrow.

Beyond being a must-see film, Rosemary’s Baby is almost a must-have film for movie buffs that want to own of piece of excellence and of classic movie history.

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