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‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 50: The Devil Is in the Details You Didn’t Know


There were no little girls floating above their beds spewing pea soup on nearby priests, or demonic rotweiler’s protecting kids with the number “666” as a birthmark on their scalps as in, respectively, The Exorcist and The Omen. But what Rosemary’s Baby had, instead, was a more grounded, realistic, and therefore more frightening take on the notion that the Devil has decided to bring his spawn to life on Earth. That was the concept behind author Ira Levin’s 1967 novel, and which stood at the center of the 1968 film of the same name that turned Mia Farrow into a major Hollywood star.

As things unfold, Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia) and her aspiring actor husband Guy (John Cassavete) move into a New York City apartment building despite the place’s ominous history. Shortly after moving in, they’re befriended by their eccentric older neighbors Minnie and Roman Castavet (Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer). What’s odd becomes downright terrifying when Rosemary finds herself pregnant (following a nightmarish vision in which she believes that she was raped by a demon), and becomes increasingly convinced that the child she is carrying is not of this world. In the end, it turns out that she’s right and that she’s been used by the Devil to give birth to his son — which Guy and the Castavets are well aware of. Rosemary knows this evil must be stopped, but then her maternal instincts kick in…

Rosemary’s Baby was the eighth highest-grossing film of the year (with over $33 million), coming in behind films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Funny Girl and The Odd Couple. Hailed as a classic of the genre, what it helped movies do is push the creative envelope even further in the direction that things were moving in the late 1960s, while managing to scare the hell out of the audience along the way. Not a bad accomplishment, as you’ll see from this behind the scenes look at how they pulled it off.

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