Rosemary's Baby (film)

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Rosemary's Baby
Rosemarys baby poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRoman Polanski
Produced byWilliam Castle
Screenplay byRoman Polanski
Based onRosemary's Baby
by Ira Levin
Music byKrzysztof Komeda
CinematographyWilliam A. Fraker
Edited by
William Castle Enterprises[1]
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • June 12, 1968 (1968-06-12)
Running time
136 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$3.2 million[2]
Box office$33.4 million[2]

Rosemary's Baby is a 1968 American psychological horror film written and directed by Roman Polanski, based on the 1967 novel of the same name by Ira Levin. The cast features Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer, Maurice Evans, Ralph Bellamy, Angela Dorian, Clay Tanner, and, in his feature film debut, Charles Grodin. The film chronicles the story of a pregnant woman who suspects that an evil cult wants to take her baby for use in their rituals.

Rosemary's Baby deals with themes related to paranoia, women's liberation, Christianity (Catholicism), and the occult.[3] The film earned almost universal acclaim from film critics and won numerous nominations and awards. It is considered a hallmark of art-horror. In 2014, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."[4]


In 1965 Guy and Rosemary Woodhouse rent a recently vacated apartment in the Bramford, a large Gothic building in New York City, after the previous tenant, an elderly woman, fell into a coma and died. Guy and Rosemary ignore their friend Hutch's warning about the Bramford's dark past involving witchcraft and murder.

Rosemary meets a young woman, Terry Gionoffrio, a recovering drug addict whom Minnie and Roman Castevet, the Woodhouses' elderly next-door neighbors, took in from the street. Rosemary admires a pendant necklace the Castevets gave to Terry but dislikes its contents' pungent odor. One night, Terry apparently jumps to her death from the Castevets' seventh-floor apartment. Soon the Castevets befriend Guy and Rosemary; Guy grows increasingly fond of them, but Rosemary finds them annoying and meddlesome. Minnie gives Terry's pendant to Rosemary as a good luck charm containing "tannis root".

Guy lands an important role in a play after the original actor inexplicably goes blind. With his career on track, Guy wants to have a baby with Rosemary. On the night they plan to conceive, Minnie brings them individual cups of chocolate mousse. Guy chastises Rosemary for complaining hers has a chalky "under-taste". She eats only a small portion before secretly discarding the rest. She passes out and experiences a dreamlike vision in which a demonic presence rapes her as Guy, the Castevets, and other Bramford tenants – all nude – watch. The next morning, Rosemary's body is covered in scratches. Guy says he had sex with her while she was unconscious since he did not want to miss "baby night".

When Rosemary becomes pregnant, the Castevets insist she go to their close friend Dr. Abraham Sapirstein, a prominent obstetrician, rather than her own physician, Dr. Hill. During her first trimester, Rosemary suffers severe abdominal pains and loses weight, though Dr. Sapirstein attributes it to temporary stiff pelvic joints. Her gaunt appearance alarms Hutch, who later researches the Bramford's history and Roman Castevet. The night before Hutch is to meet with Rosemary to share his findings, he falls into a mysterious coma. Rosemary, unable to withstand the pain, insists she must visit Dr. Hill; Guy is angry because he worries Dr. Sapirstein will be offended. As they argue, the pains suddenly stop and Rosemary feels the baby move for the first time.

Three months later, Hutch's friend, Grace Cardiff, calls Rosemary to inform her Hutch is dead. Before dying, he briefly regained consciousness and told Grace to give Rosemary a book on witchcraft along with the cryptic message: "The name is an anagram". Rosemary studies the book and deduces that Roman Castevet is an anagram for Steven Marcato, the son of a former Bramford resident and a reputed Satanist. She suspects the Castevets and Dr. Sapirstein belong to a Satanic coven and have sinister plans for her baby. Guy discounts her suspicions and throws the book away, making her think he may be conspiring with them.

Terrified, Rosemary visits Dr. Hill for help. Assuming she is delusional, he calls Dr. Sapirstein, who arrives with Guy to take Rosemary home. They assure her that neither she nor the baby will be harmed. Rosemary locks herself in the apartment, but coven members infiltrate and restrain her. Dr. Sapirstein sedates a hysterical Rosemary, who goes into labor and gives birth. When she awakens, she is told the baby was stillborn. As Rosemary recovers, she hears an infant crying that Guy claims belongs to new tenants.

Believing her baby is alive, Rosemary discovers a hidden door leading into the Castevets' apartment. The Castevets, Guy, Dr. Sapirstein and other coven members are gathered around a bassinet. Peering inside, Rosemary is horrified and demands to know what is wrong with her baby. Roman tells her the baby, Satan's son, has his father's eyes and urges Rosemary to mother her child. When Guy tries to calm Rosemary by claiming they will be generously rewarded and can conceive their own child, Rosemary spits in his face. After hearing the infant's cries, Rosemary gently rocks the cradle.




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 published the book. 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. He makes a cameo appearance as the man at the phone booth waiting for Mia Farrow to finish her call.

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 along with the galleys for Rosemary. Polanski read the latter book non-stop through the night and called Evans the following morning to tell him he thought Rosemary was the more interesting project, and would like the opportunity to write as well as direct it.[citation needed]

The script was modeled very closely on the original novel and incorporated large sections of the novel's dialogue and details. Nearly every line of dialogue was taken from the novel's text. Author Ira Levin claimed that during a scene in which Guy mentions wanting to buy a particular shirt advertised in The New Yorker, Polanski was unable to find the specific issue with the shirt advertised and phoned Levin for help. Levin, who had assumed while writing that any given issue of The New Yorker would contain an ad for men's shirts, admitted that he had made it up.[5]


Mia Farrow received widespread praise for her performance as Rosemary Woodhouse

Polanski envisioned Rosemary as a robust, full-figured, girl-next-door type, and he wanted Tuesday Weld or his own fiancée Sharon Tate for the role. Since the book had not yet reached bestseller status, Evans was unsure the title alone would guarantee an audience for the film, and he believed that a bigger name was needed for the lead. Mia Farrow, with a supporting role in Guns at Batasi (1964) and the yet-unreleased A Dandy in Aspic (1968) as her only feature film credits, had an unproven box office track record. But she had gained wider notice with her role as Allison MacKenzie in the popular television series Peyton Place, and her unexpected marriage to noted singer Frank Sinatra.

Despite her waif-like appearance, Polanski agreed to cast her. Her acceptance incensed Sinatra, who had demanded she forgo her career when they wed. Midway through the filming, he served her divorce papers via a corporate lawyer in front of the cast and crew. In an effort to salvage her relationship, Farrow asked Evans to release her from her contract, but he persuaded her to remain with the project after showing her an hour-long rough cut and assuring her she would receive an Academy Award nomination for her performance. Farrow was not nominated for the award, but stayed with the film.

Robert Redford was the first choice for the role of Guy Woodhouse, but he turned it down. Jack Nicholson was considered briefly before Polanski suggested John Cassavetes.[citation needed]

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 that 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 the building's owners did not allow interior filming. The building was used only for exterior shots.

Polanski wanted to cast Hollywood old-timers as the coven members but did not know any by name. He drew sketches of how he envisioned each character, and these helped the casting director fill the roles. In every instance, the actor cast strongly resembled Polanski's drawing. They included Ralph Bellamy, Patsy Kelly, Elisha Cook, Jr., Phil Leeds and Hope Summers.[citation needed]

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


When Farrow was reluctant to film a scene that depicted a dazed and preoccupied Rosemary wandering into the middle of a Manhattan street into oncoming traffic, Polanski pointed to her pregnancy padding and reassured her, "no one's going to hit a pregnant woman". The scene was successfully shot with Farrow walking into real traffic and Polanski following, operating the hand-held camera since he was the only one willing to do it.[6]

One scene that was shot but was later deleted involved Farrow's character attending an Off-Broadway production of The Fantasticks and encountering Joan Crawford and Van Johnson, who were playing themselves.[7]


The lullaby played over the intro is the song "Sleep Safe and Warm." It was composed by Krzysztof Komeda and sung by Mia Farrow.[8] The song "Für Elise" is also frequently used as background music throughout the film. The original film soundtrack was released in 1968 via Dot Records. Waxwork Records released the soundtrack from the original master tapes in 2014 which included Krzysztof Komeda's original work.[9]


In contemporary reviews, Renata Adler wrote in The New York Times that "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."[10]

Variety said, "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."[11]

The Monthly Film Bulletin said that "After the miscalculations of Cul de Sac and Dance of the Vampires", Polanski had "returned to the rich vein of Repulsion".[12] The review noted that "Polanski shows an increasing ability to evoke menace and sheer terror in familiar routines (cooking and telephoning, particularly)," and Polanski has shown "his transformation of a cleverly calculated thriller into a serious work of art."[12][13]

Today, the film is widely regarded as a classic; it has an approval rating of 96% on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 71 reviews, with an average rating of 8.83/10. The site's critics' consensus describes it as "A frightening tale of Satanism and pregnancy that is even more disturbing than it sounds thanks to convincing and committed performances by Mia Farrow and Ruth Gordon."[14] Metacritic reports a weighted average score of 96 out of 100 based on 15 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[15]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Category Nominee(s) Result
Academy Awards Best Supporting Actress Ruth Gordon Won
Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium Roman Polanski Nominated
British Academy Film Awards Best Actress in a Leading Role Mia Farrow Nominated
David di Donatello Awards Best Foreign Director Roman Polanski Won
Best Foreign Actress Mia Farrow Won[a]
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Roman Polanski Nominated
Edgar Allan Poe Awards Best Motion Picture Nominated
Fotogramas de Plata Best Foreign Movie Performer Mia Farrow Won
French Syndicate of Cinema Critics Best Foreign Film Roman Polanski Won
Golden Globe Awards Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama Mia Farrow Nominated
Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Ruth Gordon Won
Best Screenplay – Motion Picture Roman Polanski Nominated
Best Original Score – Motion Picture Krzysztof Komeda Nominated
Hugo Awards Best Dramatic Presentation Roman Polanski (director/screenplay) and Ira Levin (original novel) Nominated
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards Best Supporting Actor Sidney Blackmer Won
Best Supporting Actress Ruth Gordon Won
Laurel Awards Top Drama Rosemary's Baby Nominated
Top Female Dramatic Performance Mia Farrow Nominated
Top Female Supporting Performance Ruth Gordon Nominated
National Film Preservation Board National Film Registry Rosemary's Baby Inducted
Online Film & Television Association Hall of Fame – Motion Picture Won
Photoplay Awards Gold Medal Won
Writers Guild of America Awards Best Written American Drama Roman Polanski Nominated

In 2014, Rosemary's Baby was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.[4]

American Film Institute Lists


Following the film's premiere, a string of other films focusing on Satan worshippers and black magic were produced, including The Brotherhood of Satan, Mark of the Devil, Black Noon, and The Blood on Satan's Claw.

The scene in which Rosemary is raped by Satan was ranked #23 on Bravo's The 100 Scariest Movie Moments.[16]

30 years after he wrote Rosemary's Baby, Ira Levin wrote Son of Rosemary – a sequel which he dedicated to the film's star, Mia Farrow. Reaction to the book was mixed, but it made the best seller lists nationwide.[17][18][19]

The American hardcore band Rosemary's Babies (formed in 1980) was named after the movie. R&B artist SZA included audio clips from the film on her 2013 EP S in the songs "Terror.Dome" and "Kismet".

The TV series Roseanne parodied the film in the season 9 episode "Satan, Darling," in which Roseanne has a nightmare of her daughter Darlene giving birth to Satan.[20]

Home media[edit]

The Rosemary's Baby DVD, released in 2000 by Paramount Home Video, contains a 23-minute documentary film, Mia and Roman, directed by Shahrokh Hatami, which was shot during the making of the film. The title refers to Mia Farrow and Roman Polanski. The film features footage of Roman Polanski directing the film's cast on set. Hatami was an Iranian photographer who befriended Polanski and his wife Sharon Tate.[21] Mia and Roman was screened originally as a promo film at Hollywood's Lytton Center,[22] and later included as a featurette on the Rosemary's Baby DVD. It is described as a "trippy on-set featurette"[23] and "an odd little bit of cheese."[24]

On October 30, 2012, The Criterion Collection released the film for the first time on Blu-ray.[25]

Related works[edit]

In the 1976 television film Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby, Patty Duke starred as Rosemary Woodhouse and Ruth Gordon reprised her role of Minnie Castevet. The film introduced an adult Andrew/Adrian attempting to earn his place as the Antichrist. It was disliked as a sequel by critics and viewers, and its reputation deteriorated over the years.[26]

A remake of Rosemary's Baby was briefly considered in 2008. The intended producers were Michael Bay, Andrew Form, and Brad Fuller.[27] The remake fell through later that same year.[28]

In January 2014, NBC made a four-hour Rosemary's Baby miniseries with Zoe Saldana as Rosemary. The miniseries was filmed in Paris under the direction of Agnieszka Holland.[29]

The short "Her Only Living Son" from the 2017 horror anthology film XX serves as an unofficial sequel to the story.[30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tied with Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl.


  1. ^ "Rosemary's Baby". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Rosemary's Baby, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
  3. ^ Ward, Sarah (2016). "All of them witches: Individuality, conformity and the occult on screen". Screen Education (83): 34–41.
  4. ^ a b "New Films Added to National Registry" (news release). Library of Congress. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  5. ^ King, Stephen (1985). Danse Macabre, p. 296. Berkley Books, New York. ISBN 0-425-08842-1.
  6. ^ "Rosemary's Baby", Archives (movie presentation), TCM.
  7. ^ "Joan Crawford Was Cut From Rosemary's Baby!", Daily musto, Village Voice, January 9, 2012.
  8. ^ "Rosemary's Baby: The Devil Was Not Only in the Details". Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  9. ^ Turek, Ryan (5 December 2013). "Exclusive Look at Waxworks Records' Rosemary's Baby Vinyl, Art By Jay Shaw!". Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  10. ^ "Review", The New York Times.
  11. ^ "Rosemary's Baby". Variety. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  12. ^ a b Christie, Ian Leslie (1969). "Rosemary's Baby". Monthly Film Bulletin. Vol. 36 no. 420. London: British Film Institute. p. 95. ISSN 0027-0407.
  13. ^ Christie, Ian Leslie (1969). "Rosemary's Baby". Monthly Film Bulletin. Vol. 36 no. 420. London: British Film Institute. p. 96. ISSN 0027-0407.
  14. ^ "Rosemary's Baby (1968)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved June 4, 2019.
  15. ^ "Rosemary's Baby". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved June 4, 2019.
  16. ^ 100 Scariest Movie Moments (via Internet Archive)
  17. ^ Fleischer, Jean (9 January 1997). "Son of Rosemary: Other Sequel to Rosemary's Baby". Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  18. ^ Gantz, Susan (2016). "Levin, Ira: Rosemary's Baby". Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  19. ^ Jacobs, Alexandra (5 September 1997). "Son of Rosemary". Meredith Corporation. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  20. ^ Rosanne season 8, episode 7 (episode 205 overall) (October 29, 1996).
  21. ^ Shahrokh Hatami
  22. ^ "Checking Rumors on a 'Wild Bunch'". Los Angeles Times. July 9, 1968. p. E11.
  23. ^ Mark Harris (October 27, 2000). "DVD Review: Rosemary's Baby: Collector's Edition". Entertainment Weekly.
  24. ^ "POLANSKI BALANCES TERROR, HUMOR THE DIRECTOR ADDS DECEIT UPON DECEIT IN ROSEMARY'S BABY UNTIL WE FINALLY FIND THE TRUTH". Orlando Sentinel. October 20, 2000. p. 42.: "Also of interest is the short featurette Mia and Roman, an odd little bit of cheese shot during the production of Rosemary's Baby in which we learn that ..."
  25. ^ "Rosemary's Baby Blu-ray". Archived from the original on December 19, 2015.
  26. ^ Mankiewicz, Ben (2019). "Look What's Happened To Rosemary's Baby (1976)". Simon and Schuster. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  27. ^ "Rosemary's Baby Remake Confirmed". Cinema blend. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
  28. ^ Rosemary's Baby Remake Scrapped, IMDb, 22 December 2008.
  29. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (8 January 2014). "Zoe Saldana To Topline NBC Miniseries 'Rosemary's Baby'". Deadline.
  30. ^

External links[edit]