Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

ROMAN POLANSKI

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBB.  USA, 1968William Castle Productions.  Screenplay by Roman Polanski, based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by , .  Podcast:  My Criterions.  Academy Awards 1968.  Golden Globe Awards 1968.  

Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby.

The horror classic to end all horror classics!  ignited a successful film career with her star turn in this fantastic adaptation of Ira Levin’s novel, which also served as Roman Polanski’s major Hollywood debut. Farrow plays a housewife to a moderately successful actor (John Cassavetes, whose character’s three commercials and two stage plays finance a mammoth Manhattan flat, which comprises the fantasy element of the story), who makes friends with new neighbours soon after moving into her new apartment. After falling asleep in a drunken stupor with her husband, she has bad dreams about having sex with the devil and wakes up to find herself pregnant. Overjoyed at the news, she begins to worry when she starts to suspect that her nosy neighbours (Ruth Gordon, ) are actually Satanists who want her child for rituals. Is it pre-pardum madness, or is she actually right about her suspicions? Polanski’s airtight direction brings out the marvelously claustrophobic atmosphere in Levin’s novel, twisting the screws tight until the climactic finale when it seems impossible to find room enough to breathe. Farrow is terrific, and she gets unbeatable support from the entire cast. Definitely one of the greatest highlights of late-sixties filmmaking, and manages amid all of its horrors to catch the most beautiful glimpses of Manhattan until Woody Allen came along.

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