Rosemary's Baby (film)

Rosemary's Baby (film)

name = Rosemary's Baby

caption = Original poster
imdb_id = 0063522
director = Roman Polanski
writer = Roman Polanski
Based on the novel by Ira Levin
starring = Mia Farrow
John Cassavetes
Ruth Gordon
Sidney Blackmer
Maurice Evans
Ralph Bellamy
producer = William Castle
music = Krzysztof Komeda
cinematography = William A. Fraker
editing = Sam O'Steen
distributor = Paramount Pictures
released = June 12, 1968
runtime = 136 minutes
country = United States
language = English
budget = $3,200,000 (estimated)
amg_id = 1:42138
followed_by = "Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby"

"Rosemary's Baby" is a 1968 American horror/thriller film written and directed by Roman Polanski. The screenplay is based on the bestselling 1967 novel of the same name by Ira Levin.

Plot synopsis

The story focuses on Rosemary Woodhouse, a bright but somewhat naïve young housewife, and her struggling actor husband Guy after they move into the Bramford, a New York City apartment building with a history of unsavory tenants and mysterious events. Their neighbors are an elderly and slightly absurd couple, Minnie and Roman Castevet, who tend to be meddlesome but seem harmless. Guy becomes unusually close to the pair while Rosemary tries to maintain a distance from them. Guy lands a role in a play when the actor originally cast suddenly and inexplicably goes blind. Soon afterwards he suggests that he and Rosemary have the child they had planned. On the night they plan to try to conceive, Minnie brings them individual ramekins of chocolate mousse, but Rosemary finds hers has a chalky undertaste and surreptitiously throws it away after a few tastes. Shortly afterwards she has a dizzy spell and passes out. She experiences what she perceived to be a strange dream in which she is raped by a demonic presence.

A few weeks later, Rosemary learns she is pregnant. She plans to be treated by Dr. Hill, recommended by her friend Elise, but the Castevets insist she see their good friend, famed obstetrician Dr. Sapirstein. For the first three months of her pregnancy, Rosemary suffers severe abdominal pains, loses weight, and craves raw meat and chicken liver. The doctor insists the pain will subside soon and assures her she has nothing to worry about.

When her old friend Hutch sees Rosemary's wan appearance, he is disturbed enough to do some research, and he plans to share his findings with her but falls into a coma before they can meet. He subsequently dies but before he does instructs his friend Grace Cardiff to deliver the book about witchcraft on his desk to Rosemary. Photographs, passages in the text he marked, and the cryptic message "the name is an anagram" lead the young mother-to-be to realize Roman Castevet is really Steven Marcato, the son of a former resident of the Bramford who was accused of worshiping Satan. She suspects her neighbors are part of a cult with sinister designs for her baby, and Guy is cooperating with them in exchange for their help in advancing his career. She then learns that Dr. Sapirstein is part of the conspiracy when the front desk clerk at his office eludes to a smell that Rosemary has when she wears the necklace Minnie gave her as a gift and the Dr. often smells just like that.

An increasingly disturbed Rosemary shares her fears and suspicions with Dr. Hill, who, assuming she's suffering from a hormonal imbalance, calls Dr. Sapirstein and Guy. The two men bring her home, where she goes into labor. When she awakens following the delivery of her baby she's told he died shortly after birth. However, when she hears an infant's cries somewhere in the building, she suspects he still is alive. In the hall closet she discovers a secret door leading into the Castevet apartment, where the coven meets, and finds the congregation gathered, worshiping her newborn son, the spawn of Satan. Rosemary considers killing the demon infant but, after some coaxing from Roman, she begins to hum a lullaby to the boy. The film ends leaving the audience to draw their own conclusions about the future of Rosemary's baby.

Production notes

In "Rosemary's Baby: A Retrospective", a featurette on the DVD release of the film, screenwriter/director Roman Polanski, Paramount Pictures executive Robert Evans, and production designer Richard Sylbert reminisce at length about the production. Evans recalled William Castle brought him the galley proofs of the book and asked him to purchase the film rights even before Random House released the publication. The studio head recognized the commercial potential of the project and agreed with the stipulation that Castle, who had a reputation for low-budget horror films, could produce but not direct the film adaptation.

Evans admired Polanski's European films and hoped he could convince him to make his American debut with "Rosemary's Baby". He knew the director was a ski buff who was anxious to make a film with the sport as its basis, so he sent him the script for "Downhill Racer" with the galleys for "Rosemary". Polanski read the book non-stop through the night and called Evans the following morning to tell him he thought it was the more interesting project, and would like the opportunity to write as well as direct it.

Polanski envisioned Rosemary as a robust, full-figured, girl-next-door type, and he wanted Tuesday Weld for the role. Since the book had not reached bestseller status yet, Evans was unsure the title alone would guarantee an audience for the film, and he felt a bigger name was needed for the lead. With only a supporting role in "Guns at Batasi" and the not-yet-released "A Dandy in Aspic" as her only feature film credits, Mia Farrow had an unproven box office track record, but her role as Allison MacKenzie in the popular television series "Peyton Place" and her unexpected marriage to Frank Sinatra had made her a household name. Despite her waif-like appearance, Polanski agreed to cast her. Her acceptance incensed Sinatra, who had demanded she forego her career when they wed, and he served her divorce papers via a corporate lawyer, in front of the cast and crew midway through filming. In an effort to salvage her relationship, Farrow asked Evans to release her from her contract, but he convinced her to remain with the project after showing her an hour-long rough cut and assuring her she would nab an Oscar nomination for her performance (a prediction that failed to come true).

Robert Redford was everyone's first choice for the role of Guy Woodhouse, but he turned down the offer. Jack Nicholson was considered briefly before Polanski suggested John Cassavetes.

Sylbert was a good friend of Garson Kanin, who was married to Ruth Gordon, and he suggested her for the role of Minnie Castevet. He also suggested The Dakota, an Upper West Side apartment building known for its show business tenants, be used for the Bramford. Its hallways were not as worn and dark as Polanski wanted, but when the building's owners would not allow interior filming, that became a moot point and it was used for exterior shots only.

Polanski wanted to cast Hollywood old-timers as the coven members but didn't know any by name. He drew sketches of how he envisioned each character, and they were used to fill the roles. In every instance, the actor cast strongly resembled Polanski's drawing. These included Ralph Bellamy, Patsy Kelly, Elisha Cook Jr., Phil Leeds, and Hope Summers.

When Rosemary calls Donald Baumgart, the actor who goes blind and is replaced by Guy, the voice heard is that of actor Tony Curtis. Mia Farrow, who had not been told who would be reading Baumgart's lines, recognized the voice but couldn't place it. The slight confusion she displays throughout the call was exactly what Polanski hoped to capture by not revealing Curtis' identity in advance.

Sydney Guilaroff designed the wig worn by Mia Farrow in the film's early scenes. It was removed to reveal the Vidal Sassoon hairdo that made headlines when Farrow cut her trademark long hair during filming of "Peyton Place".

One of Mia Farrow's more emotionally charged scenes occurs in the midst of a party, when several of Rosemary's female friends lock Guy out of the kitchen as they console her in private. The scene was shot in a single day. That morning, just before the first take was filmed, a private messenger served Farrow with formal divorce papers from Frank Sinatra. As she read the documents, Farrow fell to her knees on the kitchen floor and openly wept in front of the cast and crew. Roman Polanski insisted that the day be canceled and filming be postponed until the next day, when he would start consecutively filming as many scenes as possible that did not contain Rosemary. Farrow openly would not accept this, insisting that nothing's changed. The day's filming concluded on time and without delay. In the 1976 television movie "Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby", Patty Duke starred as Rosemary Woodhouse and Ruth Gordon reprised her role of Minnie Castevet.

For the scene where Rosemary is raped by Satan, "Rosemary's Baby" ranked #23 on Bravo's "100 Scariest Movie Moments".

Contrary to an urban legend, Anton LaVey did not play the role of Satan in the rape scene of "Rosemary's Baby". In fact it was actor Clay Tanner, and no technical advisor was used, [" [ Imdb Entry Clay Tanner] "] [" [ The Church of Satan by Micheal Aquino p. 17] "]

Principal cast

*Mia Farrow as Rosemary Woodhouse
*John Cassavetes as Guy Woodhouse
*Ruth Gordon as Minnie Castevet
*Sidney Blackmer as Roman Castevet / Steven Marcato
* Maurice Evans as Hutch
*Ralph Bellamy as Dr. Abraham Sapirstein
*Charles Grodin as Dr. Hill
*Angela Dorian as Terry Gionoffrio
*Emmaline Henry as Elise Dunstan
*Hanna Landy as Grace Cardiff

Critical reception

"Rosemary's Baby" has a 98% "fresh" rating on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, with 46 of the 47 reviews being positive. [cite web|url=|title=Rosemary's Baby (1968)|accessdate=2008-05-29|publisher=Rotten Tomatoes] In her review in the "New York Times", Renata Adler said, "The movie - although it is pleasant - doesn't seem to work on any of its dark or powerful terms. I think this is because it is almost too extremely plausible. The quality of the young people's lives seems the quality of lives that one knows, even to the point of finding old people next door to avoid and lean on. One gets very annoyed that they don't catch on sooner." [ [ "New York Times" review] ]

Roger Ebert of the "Chicago Sun-Times" called it "a brooding, macabre film, filled with the sense of unthinkable danger. Strangely enough it also has an eerie sense of humor almost until the end. It is a creepy film and a crawly film, and a film filled with things that go bump in the night. It is very good . . . much more than just a suspense story; the brilliance of the film comes more from Polanski's direction, and from a series of genuinely inspired performances, than from the original story . . . The best thing that can be said about the film, I think, is that it works. Polanski has taken a most difficult situation and made it believable, right up to the end. In this sense, he even outdoes Hitchcock." [ [ "Chicago Sun-Times" review] ]

"Variety" stated, "Several exhilarating milestones are achieved in "Rosemary's Baby", an excellent film version of Ira Levin's diabolical chiller novel. Writer-director Roman Polanski has triumphed in his first US-made pic. The film holds attention without explicit violence or gore . . . Farrow's performance is outstanding." [ [ "Variety" review] ]

Awards and nominations

*Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (Ruth Gordon, winner)
*Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay (nominee)
*Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture (Gordon, winner)
*Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama (Farrow, nominee)
*Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay (nominee)
*Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score (nominee)
*BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Mia Farrow, nominee)
*Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures (nominee)
*Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Drama (nominee)
*David di Donatello Award for Best Foreign Actress (Mia Farrow, winner)
*David di Donatello Award for Best Foreign Director (winner)
*Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Motion Picture Screenplay (nominee)
*French Syndicate of Cinema Critics Award for Best Foreign Film (winner)
*Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor (Sidney Blackmer, winner)
*Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress (Gordon, winner)

References in popular culture


* "Mad" magazine's parody entitled "Rosemia's Boo-Boo" appeared in issue #124, Jan. 1969.
* Parody, 1970s Underground Press: [ "ROSEMERICA'S BABY" - By Paul Krassner and Dick Guindon] (Four page political comic, highly drug fueled in appearance, and origin of the joke "Spiro Agnew is an anagram for GROW A PENIS" - comic is a lampoon of Rosemary's Baby, from The Realist No. 93, August 1972


* The band Twink covered the theme song using a variety of toy pianos.
* The Tubes exclaim "Rosemary's Baby!" during the outro to the 1975 song "What Do You Want From Life".
* Today Is the Day uses a (or several) sample(s) from this movie near the end of the song "Never Answer The Phone" off the album "Sadness Will Prevail"
* The theme song to the film is covered by the band Fantomas in their album "Directors Cut"
* Hardcore band Charles Bronson uses several sound clips from the film.
* Laibach's 1992 Album "Kapital" samples the film on two tracks: "Kinderreich" (sampling Mia Farrow's vocals from the film's theme song) and "Sponsored By Mars" (sampling Maurice Evan's shouts of "Typhoon! Typhoon!" from the scene where Rosemary dreams she is aboard a ship.)
* Other musical references to the film are by Deep Purple on "Why didn't Rosemary?", by Frumious Bandersnatch on "Rosemary's Baby" and by Samsas Traum on "Kamikaze!".
* Outkast references Rosemary's Baby in the song Git Up, Git Out on their 1994 album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik: "I used to hang out with my daddy's brothers, I call them my uncles. They taught me how to smoke herb, I followed them when they ran numbers. So in a sense I was Rosemary's baby".
* Chicago electronic duo [http://www.microfilmmusic Microfilm] released their song 'What Have You Done to Its Eyes?' on their 2007 debut album "After Dark"; the song lyrics are inspired by the film and Mia Farrow's personal life at the time; the title is a reference to Rosemary's famous line in the final scene of the film; samples of an interview with Ms. Farrow from that time period can be heard in the song.
* The Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper song, "Hands of Death (Burn Baby Burn)," contains dialogue from the film. The phrases exlcaimed by Sidney Blackmer during the film's climax -- "Satan lives!" and "Hail Satan!" -- can be heard in the song.
* British progressive band Radio Massacre International released dark, ambient piece "Rosemary's Baby" on their 1995 album "Frozen North".
* Bone Thugs-N-Harmony refer to "Rosemary's Baby" in the song "Hell Sent"

TV and Movies

* In the movie "Stay Tuned (film)", when the kids flip through the channel trying to find their parents trapped in the demonic world of television they see a commerical advertising a show called "Three Men & Rosemary's Baby." Three men sing a lullabye for the baby which pukes at them from its carriage.
* In the action movie-spoofing film, "Last Action Hero", when Jack Slater and Danny are about to be killed by Benedict on the rooftop of a cinema, he mentions a christening for Rosemary's Baby as one of the things he can do with the magic ticket he stole from Danny.
* In the 1990s sitcom "Roseanne", an entire episode of the ill-fated final season is a parody of Rosemary's Baby. Roseanne finds herself in a strange dream-like state where her pregnant daughter Darlene has Satan's son. Roseanne demands to speak to the baby's father, and ends up speaking to Satan himself, who has taken the form of Roseanne.
* In the popular romantic comedy "When Harry Met Sally", Harry and Sally are playing Pictionary with their friends, where Sally draws a picture of a large mouth with numerous arrows shooting from it. Seemingly no one is able to guess what it is, and Harry shouts "Rosemary's baby!" as a guess. It ultimately turns out the answer is 'baby talk'.
* In the pilot episode of "Gilmore Girls", Rory makes a statement about Dean, using context from the movie, to which Dean replies "Rosemary's Baby. That's a great movie"
* In a season five episode of sitcom "Boy Meets World", while living next to a supposed clan of witches, Shawn approaches one, saying "So, Rosemary...How's the baby?"
* In episodes of season 4 of "Reno 911", Lt. Dangle would guess that Wiegel's unborn child is likely Rosemary's baby, or more bluntly, the Anti-Christ.
* In the "Grey's Anatomy" episode "It's the End of the World", Bailey refers to her interns as "Rosemary's babies" due to their intolerability.
* In an episode of "That '70s Show", Laurie blames her mom about the situation that her dad is angry at her. Her mom replies, "Rosemary had a better baby than me."
* In Cycle 5 (Nicole wins) of "America's Next Top Model", Tyra Banks wants the beauty queen-esque contestant, Cassandra, to receive a Mia Farrow-Rosemary's baby hair cut.
* In an episode of "Coach", Craig T. Nelson's character Coach Fox states he does not want Rosemary's Baby.
* The fourth episode of the second season of NBC sitcom "30 Rock" is titled "Rosemary's Baby"


According to Hollywood Reporter [ Bay preps 'Rosemary' redo, [ Hollywood Reporter] ] a 2009-2010 remake of "Rosemary's Baby" will begin production. The intended producers are Michael Bay, Andrew Form and Brad Fuller. Some names associated to the reimagining include Jessica Alba, Lindsay Lohan, Ginnifer Goodwin and Blake Lively.


External links

* [ Dialogue Transcript at]
* [ William Castle's involvement in the film]

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