on March 2, 2000
Ira Levin's classic tale of gothic horror in 1960's Manhattan is wonderfully brought to life by Roman Polanski in the film version. The movie has much more depth and strength of characterization than the book, and the biggest surprise, when the movie first opened, was Mia Farrow's absolutely great performance as Rosemary.
The movie stays very close to the book throughout, and the actors are terrific. John Cassavetes is excellent as Rosemary's low-life actor husband who sacrifices her to his ambition without a second thought; Ruth Gordon won a well-deserved Oscar for best supporting actress as the delightfully wacky witch next door; Sidney Blackmer gives a chilling performance as her sinister husband whose name is an anagram that sends Rosemary hurtling down a spiral chute of terror and panic, and Ralph Bellamy is total perfection as the evil Dr. Sapirstein.
The two best scenes in the movie are the scene in which Rosemary, who wants a baby more than anything else in the world, finds herself being impregnated by God-knows-what, and the scene toward the movie's end when she realizes just what she was impregnated with. The movie was shot mostly in and around the Dakota, the grand old Upper West Side co-op that lends itself remarkably well to the creepy projection of a haunted house, the cinematography and film editing are excellent, and Polanski's direction proves that a great horror movie doesn't have to be a slasher film to effectively scare the bejesus out of you. There's no blood, no gore, no violence; just a great psychological horror ride, and it works.
on April 3, 2002
The film is not in your face. In fact, Roman Polanski's visionary work is more subdued than many films at this time. But it is that tameness, and peace that makes the mood of this movie so uncomfortable. Everything is fine, only the opposite. The film starts slow enough, a young couple moving in together, trying to have a baby. While they come at the mercy of strange happenings. Whether it be Rosemary's friend 'jumping' to her death. Or it be her somewhat too nice neighbors. You begin to see the world through the eyes of Rosemary, and you grow terrified along with her. While the sheer horror really comes at the end, when we realize how easy evil can seduce us, the movie stays chilling until the last frame. While movies like Nightmare on Elm Street and The Thing try to capture a horrible beast in his most frightening stage, this movie teaches us that the scariest things in life may be the people we trust the most. This truly is Polanski's best work, and it has survived the test of time.
on August 7, 2006
I used to play the theme song on the piano when I was a kid. . . it was haunting, just like the film.
I always loved this film. It was almost perfect in every way. My Grandma used to remind me of Ruth Gordon, so I just adored Ruth Gordon. Here she was her New York yenta-ish self, but a Satanist, too. This is exactly why the film works so well. We all get scared of monsters and psychopaths running around with knives. In this movie, though, the villians are are New York yenta and her intellectual husband.
This does follow Ira Levin's excellent novel. Mia Farrow is perfect as gentle, almost timid Rosemary. The entire cast is wonderful.
I remember watching this movie as a child, and I'm almost certain that the ending here is changed. When Rosemary enters the neighbor's apartment with her knife, and goes over to the bassinet, then gasps in horror, there used to be a superimposed image of cat-like eyes while Rosemary screams, "What have you done to his eyes?" That really worked well, but it's gone here, or at least on the dvd I watched recently.
All in all, an excellent movie.
By the way, several years ago I was in the bookstore and came upon Ira Levin's sequel to this, "The Son of Rosemary". UGH! This is the most horrible novel EVER. Well, probably not ever, but definitely up there. What a disappointment that was!
on June 27, 2002
This is the greatest horror film, and one of the greatest films ever, period.
Everything in it works. From that terrific tag line to the creepy poster art, to that off kilter lullaby Mia Farrow croons, to every single performance, line of dialogue and scene. The cast is perfection. The terror is palpable. The extras set the movie in its time, but the movie has surpased its time and become, like all true classics, for the ages. The Bramley will never be razed for a parking lot. Ira Levin's superb novel was blessed by Roman Polanski's film. Both are landmarks touched with more than a little genius.
The movie is wickedly funny, deliciously entrancing, groundbreakingly "real" because it's horror is set in present day New York; also, the elderly couple next door, who are the coven leaders, are played to the hilt by nosey Ruth Gordon and the intriguing Sidney Blackmer; therefore, it's easy to come under their spell. Blackmer especially gives an almost noble performance that is rich and wise. The entire cast is at the top of their game.
Maurice Evan's Hutch is the hope and comfort of the film, the logical reality against what is inexorably happening, while Ralph Bellamy's Dr. Saperstein (he was on "Open End," you know)is that soft spoken easygoing evil that you just know hides a little below the surface of most of his ilk. It's also fun seeing Hope Summers (Clara Edwards of "The Andy Griffith Show") as a Satanist. Not out of character here, really. Did Aunt Bea ever find out?
It's ironic that the movie probably could not be made today. The current crop of puritans would rail against it; odd, since the bare bones of the plot hew to what they say they believe. But while those lame Left Behind movies and the others artlessly propound beating foolish stuff into its audiences heads, "Rosemary's Baby" plays knowingly with fiction, with what ifs, with the paranoia come true, all in a twisty gripping eerie exciting film, produced by the great William Castle, who has just the right cameo that comes with the chill first, then the laughter.
Mia Farrow's heart wrenching Rosemary Woodhouse leads us into her terror and pain, then into her first goosebumpy nightmare come true reaction to her son, propelling into that final reaction, maybe even scarier, as the camera wisely pans to the window and the outside of the Bramley. There are some fine character actors as well, always dependable Elisha Cook, Jr. Philip Leeds and Patsy Kelly.
John Cassavetes, as Guy Woodhouse, also creeps us out as he sells himself and Rosemary, and I guess, their baby, and the world, to Satan, to further his acting career. Being in bit parts in "Luther" and "Nobody Loves an Albatross" can only take an actor just so far. Priorities, after all. So settle down with some "plain old Lipton Tea," a bowl of "chocolate mouse" and a Vodkda Blush, and watch a classic again or for the first time. Watch out for mouse bites, though.
on October 24, 2007
So much has been said about Rosemary's Baby. For me this is a film with so much style and substance, I always enjoy viewing it. I just want to mention a few standout elements that I am bewitched by.
Ruth Gordon. I can't praise this performance enough. The Oscar was well deserved. She is a brash little gargoyle as Minnie Castevet. She steals scenes with such ease. Watch her eating a slice of cake when Guy and Rosemary are over for dinner. It is absolutely revolting and hilarious at once. Amazing.
The score is so unusual, and it works. And Polanski knew when not to use it. Sometimes silence just adds so much to the creepiness factor.
The cinematography and direction are fun and witty. You will find yourself craning your neck to see a character who has been carefully placed just out of the shot. There are many ingenius touches peppered throught this movie. I won't bother listing them all. Suffice to say that this is a fun, fascinating film that happens to deal with the occult. Back then they knew that the less you reveal, the more you leave to the audience's imagination.
on April 10, 2012
I have been watching a lot of Roman Polanski films lately. So far I have watched Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, Repulsion, The Fearless Vampire Killers, and The Pianist. I have got to say that the stand out film of those five for me was most definitely Rosemary's Baby. Yes, they are all amazing films (Yes, I think that The Fearless Vampire Killers was great because of the fantastic camera work and the beautiful sets) but I have my reasons for favoring Rosemary's Baby.
I will start with the acting. Mia Farrow is stellar in her portrayal of a girl whose trust in everyone around her slowly deteriates. John Cassavettes as her hubby who favores his acting career over his wife is also chilling. His character is set up at the beginning to be this funny easy-to-like fella but the viewer along with Rosemary start to get the feeling that there is something more sinister underneath his nice-guy facade as some clues start to arise. They work together perfectly as a young playful couple and they both do a fantastic job of playing there respective parts later on in the film.
I believe that Roman Polanski was at the top of his form during the making of this film. He had used long takes to his advantage in the two films I've seen by him made before RB (Repulsion and Vampire Killers) and I think his use of the long takes in this film are particularly effective. Sometimes, I feel like the constant cutting between two different faces talking to each other can be distracting whereas in a long take where all characters are in the frame, It just seems more like you are watching a scene. I love near the end when the camera continiously follows a frazzled Rosemary through the halls of the apartment building. The camera work plus the jumpy music in that scene really put you in her shoes. Another favorite scene, right after her running through the halls of her apartment building I think, is when she is in her apartment with a knife and she hears Guy enter. She quickly runs into a closet, bumping her unborn childs creeky rockabye crib on her way. You see Guy searching through the fridge and then you see Rosemary's petite hand creep out of the closet with a massive knife and pokes the crib so it will stop rocking. Genius!
I think the main thing I appreciate about this film though is it's spot-on pacing. This is long compared to most other horror films (a bit over two hours) but it's pacing and suspense is what makes this film perfect. This along with Stanley Kubrick's The Shining both have the perfect pacing that shows someone on the screen slowly delve in to madness, the viewer going with them.
I actually don't know if I would consider this a horror film. It's more of a thriller or a suspense film. Horror is usually associated with blood and guts and murder, all of which this film does not possess. It does however possess some things that most horror films do not. A great director, great script, and great actors.
I highly recommend this for someone not looking for a scare-a-minute horror film, but a masterfully done slower thriller.
Thanks for reading.
on May 15, 2004
This Polanski gem is quite easily one of the finest horror movies in the history of cinema and I cannot recommend it highly enough!
While not a particularly bloody movie as others in the Horror genre, its devilishly clever writing and screenplay make sure that it maintains an eerily sinister atmosphere throughout. The nightmare sequences will lurk in your memory for a while.
Acting is first-rate all round, but the picture simply wouldn't work without the passionate conviction that Mia Farrow brings to her portrayal. She exudes vulnerability, but also brings so many other subtle but passionate shadings to her characterization that we can never simply pity Rosemary.
Very few movies have been able to mix intense psychological horror, raw emotion and a delicious air of ambiguity with such flair. You're all at once bewildered, scared to death and on the verge of tears.
Grab it if you get a chance, this is a cinematic marvel.
on August 1, 2007
I am amazed that I have just watched ROSEMARY'S BABY for the first time.When this film came out when I was in 7th grade I remember that it carried the ominous rating 'M'(Mature), which in those days was verboten for anyone under 21.I remember hearing all of the scandalous talk about it;Satanism,anti-Christianity,nudity,talk of marijuana etc.That was groundbreaking stuff in those days!What though may seem "quaint" to some still carries with it a powerful punch for those who see this film through the eyes of the time in which it was made.This film threatened the very "sacred cows" of American Traditional values. As seen in the film, TIME MAGAZINE did print a front page edition entitled "IS GOD DEAD?" That alone was considered blasphemous.Viewing the movie through THAT lens will make it all the more interesting!
Well, now in 2007 I have seen it, and it is so easy to see WHY this film was so shocking.It still shocked me;not so much for the content as much as for the brilliant direction of Roman Polanski who knows how to create real and palpable tension.You jump when he says jump.You feel the foreboding and the secrecy.You feel the terror.He moves the camera down spooky corridors. The music is appropriately creepy and adds to the further mix of desperation and high strung feeling.This is what makes this movie a classic! Polanski (CHINATOWN,THE PIANIST,OLIVER TWIST) knows how much fishing line to let out, hook you, and then reel you slowly in,only to let you think you are going to be released,quickly then snatching you up unexpectedly!Polanski follows in the steps of others great suspense directors, but seldom has anyone achieved such height and depth of terror that is done so craftily and subtly.
The film may seem dated, but when looked at as a period piece ROSEMARY'S BABY becomes all the more fascinating;dial up phones,answering services,black elevator operators,earth- tone furniture,Vidal Sassoon haircuts,smoking and drinking in front of pregnant women,and parts of New York City that no longer exist.The film is a veritable chronicle of 1960's life! Put a first class screenplay with excellent direction and it is easy to see how subsequent directors tried to make films of this genre, but fell short (not all, but many!).
Mia Farrow was fresh from her debut triumph as Allison Mackenzie in the the scandalous evening T.V. Soap, PEYTON PLACE!She was the "IT" girl of the moment. John Cassavetes went on to be a great and famous director. Ruth Gordon, who won the Oscar for her portrayal as Minnie was still wowing them into the late 1980's.This film featured all of the "now" actors.
ROSEMARY'S BABY is a nail-biter! Yes, the "spawn of Satan" flicks continue to be made, but ROSEMARY'S BABY set the whole hellish ball into high spinning motion.THE EXORCIST,THE OMEN all followed in subsequent years.TOP 5 HORROR FILMS OF ALL TIME IN MY BOOK!I now know why people considered this film so overwhelming for it's time.It still has staying power that are hallmarks of great films!
on August 18, 2006
"Rosemary's Baby" is a the film version of the scary book from author Ira Levin. This movie not only exceeds the novel's level of suspense; it crosses it by leaps & bounds. The film finds young, happy couple Rosemary & Guy Woodhouse moving into a big, fancy NY city apartment known as the Bramford. They quickly make friends with the seemingly friendly elderly next door couple, & settle in. But all is not as it seems. Rosemary begins to suspect things are off during her pregnancy, in which she loses an extreme amount of weight & her friend seems to be trying to warn her about something... unfortunatly, a coma stops him. Little does Rosemary know about the satanic plot which surrounds her & the secret of her unborn babys identity... Rosemary's baby is considered oonbe of the best & most ground breaking horror films, & rightly so; it's genuinly scary. Not in the way where things jump out at you, no,no; what "Rosemary" achieves is a growing sense of dread & suspense.The film benefits greatly from the stylish direction of Roman Polanski & from the phenomenal performance by Mia Farrow as Rosemary. Rosemary is young and innocent & frail & all of this is captured wonderfully by Farrow's sensitive portrayal of a woman who has basically everyone against her. In the end, "Rosemary's Baby" may be considered "Slow" by some of today's standards, but when it comes down to it, "Rosemary" really delivers the gooseflesh goods... -Alex Barone
on August 31, 2006
The truly frightening thing about "Rosemary's Baby" is that the satanic cultists are just the normal folks living next door. The very ordinariness of their evil is much more terrifying than "The Exorcist". This film is packed with excellent performances from Mia Farrow, as the manipulated anti-madonna, to John Cassavetes as the ambitious husband who sees nothing wrong with trading the use of his wife's womb for success. Check out Ruth Gordan, Sidney Blackmer, Ralph Bellamy, Maurice Evans and Charles Grodin. They just don't make films like this any more. This is the best of Roman Polanski and author Ira Levin. And, watch for a cute cameo appearance by producer/horrormeister William Castle. Highly Recommended!