Rosemary's Baby (1968)

Roman Polanski
1968 • 136 Minutes • 1.85:1 • United States
Paramount Pictures

Cast – Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer, Maurice Evans
Screenplay – Roman Polanski based on the novel by Ira Levin
Producer - William Castle
Cinematography – William A. Fraker

Awards & Honors

Academy Awards
Winner: Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Ruth Gordon
Nominated:  Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium - Roman Polanski

American Film Institute
AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Thrills – Ranked #9

Nominated:  Best Actress - Mia Farrow

Director's Guild Awards
Nominated:  Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures - Roman Polanski

The Essential Films
The 100 Essential Horror Movies – Ranked #14

Golden Globes
Winner: Best Supporting Actress – Ruth Gordon
Nominated: Best Motion Picture Actress, Drama - Mia Farrow

Nominated: Best Original Score - Krzysztof Komeda
Nominated: Best Screenplay - Roman Polanski

Writers Guild Awards
Nominated: Best Written American Drama - Roman Polanski

He chose you, honey! From all the women in the world to be the mother of his only living son!

The Story:

Roman Polanski wrote the screenplay based on the novel by Ira Levin about a young couple by the names Guy and Rosemary Woodhouse who move into an old apartment building with a mysterious history.  Shortly after moving into the apartment, their elderly next door neighbors, The Castevets, quickly make friends with Woodhouse’s and Guy begins to spend an inordinate amount of time with the older couple.  After one of the residents suddenly and mysteriously dies, Rosemary begins to have wild dreams and hallucinations, followed shortly by a pregnancy.  While normally a time of great joy in a young couple’s life, Rosemary becomes increasingly nervous and perhaps paranoid of the Castevets unhealthy obsession with her unborn child.

The Direction

Roman Polanski, director of classics such as Chinatown, Repulsion and  The Pianist, directs what is considered one of the greatest psychological horror movies of all time.  The way the movie unfolds leaves you at the edge of your seat and in complete suspense.  Without getting into spoilers, the eventual mystery of what the unborn baby could actually be is so disturbing that the audience dares not to believe it.  He blends the atmosphere of the creepy apartment building (a typical horror movie-like environment) with the psychological horror of what is potentially happening inside Rosemary’s body… or her head.  This takes his previous work of psychological horror, Repulsion, and turns it up several notches.  Plus the final scene will leave you disturbed for the rest of the day.

The Cast

Mia Farrow carries the weight of the film as the titular Rosemary and she’s up to the challenge.  At first she is mousy and meek, but as events unfold she slowly falls deeper into depression and potential madness.  She knows there is something wrong with her baby, but no one believes her… a girl who cried wolf.  Her madness never gets out of hand, she never goes over the top, but you can tell that she’s ready to snap at any moment.  Her reaction to the truth of her baby at the end of the film is absolutely perfect.

John Cassavets, praised more for his work as a director than as an actor, turn in more than a capable supporting performance as Guy Woodhouse.  Woodhouse is a struggling actor that would do anything for a shot at greater fame.  Cassavetes plays the role with enough charm that on the surface appears genuine, but with a subtle sinister quality that makes you question him just as Rosemary does.

The real star of the show is Ruth Gordon as Minnie Castevets.  What’s wonderful about the performance is that Gordon plays the role completely straight… all she appears to be, objectively, is a nosy, overly concerned little old lady next door.  There is nothing about her actions that would make you think she is anything other than what she says and presents herself to be.  However, Rosemary’s perception of her leads the audience to question her motives as well. Gordon’s work in this film is truly deserving of the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress that she earned.