Monday, September 17, 2012

ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968) movie review

Rosemary’s Baby (1968) d. Polanski, Roman (USA)

The blockbuster adaption of Ira Levin’s bestselling occult novel still maintains its punch 44 years after its initial release, but what struck me on this most recent viewing was just how easily it could have become just another schlocky “fun” horror film in the hands of producer William Castle. Having acquired the rights to Levin’s story, everyone’s favorite celluloid showman had hoped for this to be his entryway into directing studio-funded A-films, but Paramount head honcho Robert Evans instead gave the reins to hot new European import Polanski.

Obviously, this proved to be a wise decision as the young auteur proceeded to imbue the outlandish story – Mia Farrow’s young expectant mother’s growing paranoia of a conspiracy surrounding her unborn child – with a grounded, soap opera realism, subverting expectations of genre without sacrificing an iota of tension or dread. Ruth Gordon won the Supporting Actress Oscar for her slyly fussy turn as Farrow and husband John Cassavetes’ intrusive neighbor, with able support from Ralph Bellamy, Sidney Blackmer, Maurice Evans, Elisha Cook, Jr., Hammer’s dinosaur-lovin’ glamour gal Victoria Vetri and baby-faced Charles Grodin in his first major screen appearance. Watch (and listen) closely for cameos by Castle and Tony Curtis.

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