For this year’s A-To-Z Challenge, my theme is MOVIES. I will be working my way through the alphabet during the month of April with movie titles and short blurbs about each movie. Today’s movie is “Rosemary’s Baby.”
“Rosemary’s Baby” was a 1968 American psychological horror film written and directed by Roman Polanski. It starred Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer, Maurice Evans, and Ralph Bellamy, The film was a box-office success, grossing over $30 million in the United States. It received numerous accolades, including multiple Golden Globe Award nominations and two Academy Award nominations. Ruth Gordon won both the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as well as the Golden Globe in the same category.
Before this movie was released, I had read the book with the same title written by Ira Levin. The horror novel sold over 4 million copies, making it the top bestselling horror novel of the 1960s. I loved the book and I was reluctant to see the movie when it came out because my experience at that point was that movie adaptations of great books pretty much sucked.
My girlfriend at the time, who hadn’t read the book but heard me rave about it, wanted to see the movie. So we went and to see it together. In Roman Polanski’s Hollywood debut, he put together a film that turned out to be incredibly faithful to the best seller.
The film was about a young newlywed couple, Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse (Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes) who moved into a large, rambling old apartment building in Central Park West, and begin a loving, post-honeymoon period. They became friendly with the eccentric next-door neighbors, the Castevets (Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer), an overly-solicitous and intrusive elderly couple, and soon the struggling husband’s acting career improved and turned promising. But after a nightmarish dream of making love to a horned beast, the paranoid, haunted, and fragile Rosemary believed that she had been impregnated so that her baby could be used in the New Yorkers’ evil cult rituals.
Suffering through a long period of a debilitating pregnancy, she consulted with a long-time friend (Maurice Evans) who died mysteriously, but had sent her a book about witchcraft, which suggested that their Castevet neighbor Roman was the son of a famous martyred satanist.
After giving birth at home under heavy sedation, Rosemary is told by her obstetrician (Ralph Bellamy), a friend of the Castevets, that her baby has died. But she didn’t believe it, and after hearing an infant’s cries elsewhere in the building, she finds a coven of satanists gathered in the Castevets’ apartment with Guy and her newborn son. Informed that Satan is the child’s father, Rosemary initially reacts with horror but then seems to accept her role as its mother.
“Rosemary’s Baby” is one of horror cinema’s all-time classics. Without cheap thrills, gore, or sensationalistic elements, it presents the menacing presence of evil surrounding us in the alienated, every-day, mundane city environment. If you’re into eerie gothic horror films, this is one to see. Or you can also read Ira Levin’s excellent book.