Rosemary's Baby (1968)

137 mins | Horror | 12 June 1968

Director:

Roman Polanski

Writer:

Roman Polanski

Producer:

William Castle

Cinematographer:

William Fraker

Production Designer:

Richard Sylbert

Production Company:

William Castle Enterprises
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HISTORY

On 7 Mar 1967, LAT announced that William Castle Enterprises would produce a film version of Ira Levin’s upcoming novel, Rosemary’s Baby, for Paramount Pictures. The 22 Mar 1967 Var stated that Paramount had optioned the book from Random House in advance of its scheduled publication in Apr 1967, then assigned the project to producer William Castle. The purchase price was said to be “$100,000 with escalation to $150,000 via additional $1 for each hardcover copy sold over 35,000.” Ira Levin was also entitled to twenty percent of the producers’ profit share, and no less than ten percent of the picture’s net profits.
       French filmmaker Francois Truffaut claimed that Alfred Hitchcock was first offered the project, but turned it down due to lack of interest in the material, as noted in a 3 Jul 1968 Var article. Roman Polanski’s involvement was announced in the 13 Mar 1967 DV, which stated that he would write and direct, per his recently signed contract with Paramount. By 19 Apr 1967, Polanski had finished the script, according to a Var item published that day.
       William Castle and Polanski began developing the project with Warren Beatty and Polanski’s wife, actress Sharon Tate, in mind for the lead roles, according to the 5 May 1967 DV. However, later that month, the 25 May 1967 DV stated that Castle and Paramount were negotiating with Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, to “loan out” actress Mia Farrow, who was under contract with Fox at that time. The 10 Jul 1967 DV and 11 Jul 1967 LAT confirmed ... More Less

On 7 Mar 1967, LAT announced that William Castle Enterprises would produce a film version of Ira Levin’s upcoming novel, Rosemary’s Baby, for Paramount Pictures. The 22 Mar 1967 Var stated that Paramount had optioned the book from Random House in advance of its scheduled publication in Apr 1967, then assigned the project to producer William Castle. The purchase price was said to be “$100,000 with escalation to $150,000 via additional $1 for each hardcover copy sold over 35,000.” Ira Levin was also entitled to twenty percent of the producers’ profit share, and no less than ten percent of the picture’s net profits.
       French filmmaker Francois Truffaut claimed that Alfred Hitchcock was first offered the project, but turned it down due to lack of interest in the material, as noted in a 3 Jul 1968 Var article. Roman Polanski’s involvement was announced in the 13 Mar 1967 DV, which stated that he would write and direct, per his recently signed contract with Paramount. By 19 Apr 1967, Polanski had finished the script, according to a Var item published that day.
       William Castle and Polanski began developing the project with Warren Beatty and Polanski’s wife, actress Sharon Tate, in mind for the lead roles, according to the 5 May 1967 DV. However, later that month, the 25 May 1967 DV stated that Castle and Paramount were negotiating with Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, to “loan out” actress Mia Farrow, who was under contract with Fox at that time. The 10 Jul 1967 DV and 11 Jul 1967 LAT confirmed Farrow’s casting as “Rosemary Woodhouse,” and stated that production was scheduled to begin the following month. A $3-million budget was cited in the 11 Jul 1968 LAT.
       Principal photography began in New York City on 21 Aug 1967, according to production charts in the 14 Jul 1967 and 25 Aug 1967 DV. Location filming mostly took place around midtown Manhattan, as noted in the 18 Aug 1967 DV, and was scheduled to be completed by 27 Aug 1967, according to the 24 Aug 1967 DV. Production then moved to Paramount Studios in Hollywood, CA, where interiors were filmed, as stated in a 30 Aug 1967 Var brief. In late Oct 1967, several days of location shooting took place in Playa del Rey, CA, followed by a return to Paramount, according to the 1 Nov 1967 Var. Additionally, a “post-production unit” was expected to return to New York City in late Nov 1967, to capture more footage.
       An article in the 6 Nov 1967 LAT reported that filming was twenty-two days behind schedule. Meanwhile, production on Twentieth Century-Fox’s The Detective (1968, see entry), in which Mia Farrow was set to co-star with her husband, Frank Sinatra, was ahead of schedule, thus requiring Farrow earlier than expected. Sinatra urged Farrow to leave Rosemary’s Baby, and Fox offered to cover Paramount’s costs to put the production on hiatus. However, Farrow insisted on staying and finishing the Polanski film. Fox replaced her with actress Lee Remick as Sinatra’s co-star. Shortly after, an item in the 23 Nov 1967 LAT stated that press agent James Mahoney announced that day Sinatra’s separation from Farrow, after just over one year of marriage. According to the 27 Nov 1967 LAT, Farrow was stunned by the news, which she allegedly learned on the set of Rosemary’s Baby, from Sinatra’s lawyer, Mickey Rudin. It was speculated that Farrow’s dedication to her work was the impetus, as Sinatra had previously called off an engagement to dancer Juliet Prowse, stating, “I’ll never again be married to a woman who works. I want a wife, a woman who’ll have my dinner ready when I arrive home at night.”
       Roughly three weeks after the separation announcement, an 18 Dec 1967 LAT item stated that Farrow was back in New York City shooting exteriors. Principal photography was completed by 20 Dec 1967, according to a Var brief of the same date. Farrow was rumored to be spending the upcoming Christmas holiday with her estranged husband and several houseguests in Palm Springs, CA.
       A 23 Jun 1968 NYT article noted that, for the scene in which the pregnant Rosemary Woodhouse runs into traffic on Fifth Avenue, Polanski persuaded Farrow to wander into the street amidst real-life traffic, promising that no one would hit a pregnant woman on Fifth Avenue. Farrow also allowed her own arm to be used for a close-up shot of blood being drawn in a doctor’s office, and her humming was used over the opening title lullaby, despite the auditioning of several “Hollywood hummers.”
       The following actors were listed as cast members in the 9 Sep 1967, 25 Nov 1967, 9 Dec 1967, and 16 Dec 1967 issues of LAT, however it is unclear whether or not they appeared in the final film: Carol Brewster, Lynn Brinker, Dee Carroll, Robert Cleaves, Roger Creed, Michael Gomez, Anne E. Graeff, William Graeff, John Halloran, Jean Inness, Al Jepson, Geoffrey Norman, George Ross Robertson, William P. Roderick, Robert Whaley, and Frank White.
       Farrow was quoted in the 23 Jun 1968 NYT as saying she “got on terrifically well with Roman Polanski.” Likewise, William Castle wrote a letter of thanks to Polanski that was published in the 10 Jan 1968 DV, claiming it was his first time writing a fan letter, but he felt the need to “go on record” with his praise for the filmmaker’s talent, thoughtfulness, cooperation, and technical skill.
       Rosemary Woodhouse begins the film with long hair, before getting a short, “pixie” haircut she credits to celebrity hairstylist Vidal Sassoon. In real life, Sassoon was responsible for fashioning a long hairpiece that Farrow wore in earlier scenes, as stated in a 14 Aug 1967 NYT item, and for cutting the actress’s hair into his so-called “five-point cut,” prior to production. The 20 Jun 1968 LAT noted that the haircut took place in “kind of a public press conference.” Many years later, the 24 Jan 2013 NYT addressed the faulty perception that Sassoon was responsible for Farrow’s “career-changing haircut.” Farrow confirmed that she had initially cut her own hair short in 1966. She claimed the photo shoot staged by Paramount merely showed Sassoon cutting a half-inch in length.
       According to a 6 Mar 1968 DV news item, a paperback edition of Levin’s novel was set to be released in Apr 1968, two months prior to the film’s opening. An advance print order of 1,100,000 copies was made, based on the hardcover’s popularity and the upcoming film release.
       Advertisements for the picture included buttons and “mini-ads” with the slogan, “Pray for Rosemary’s Baby.” The 3 Jul 1968 Var noted Polanski’s disapproval of the slogan, since it might cause confusion over the film’s title. As he had predicted, in late Jun 1968, a Var writer reportedly referred to the picture, in two separate stories, as Pray for Rosemary’s Baby.
       A preview screening for the press was held at the Directors Guild of America (DGA) Theater on 21 May 1968, according to a DV article published the following day. Soon after, the picture opened to mixed reviews on 12 Jun 1968 at the Criterion and Tower East Theatres in New York City, and on 14 Jun 1968 at the Crest Westwood Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. Controversy arose over the use of the word “shit” in the film, as Rosemary’s Baby was said to be only the second picture, after Universal’s Boom! (1968, see entry), to be released with a Production Code Seal from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) in spite of the “four-letter vulgarism,” as noted in a 24 May 1968 DV article. The Code Authority reportedly “exerted every persuasive effort to have the word removed” by filmmakers, but a seal was granted nevertheless, with the caveat that advertising include the tag, “Suggested for mature audiences.” In an otherwise positive assessment of the film, the 29 May 1968 DV review cited the use of the word as a lamentable milestone that was deliberately sensationalistic, while the 14 Jun 1968 LAT review argued that Rosemary’s Baby “makes the case for some sort of classification system more compelling than ever.” Just three months after the picture was released, an article in the 21 Sep 1968 NYT stated that MPAA president Jack Valenti was set to announce a new motion picture rating system on 7 Oct 1968, to include the following classifications: “G – suitable for all general audiences; M – adults and teen-agers (17 and under) who have written permission from their parents; R – adults and 17 year olds and under accompanied by a parent or legally responsible adult; [and] X – actually ex-/certificate, without a code seal and forbidden for anyone under 17.”
       Rosemary’s Baby proved to be a commercial success, particularly popular with young audiences, as noted in a 31 Jul 1968 Var article. At the Crest Westwood, the film set a two-day box-office record in its first weekend, surpassing The Fox (1968, see entry). The release also marked the first time that the Crest offered midnight showings on Friday and Saturday, and weekday matinees. In New York City, the picture set a first-week record at the Tower East Theatre, grossing $141,572 in its first seven days, according to the 21 Jun 1968 DV. The New York release widened from two to forty-four theaters in early Oct, as stated in the 17 Oct 1968 DV, which listed a first-week gross of $836,541 in that many locations. On 11 Sep 1968, Var named Rosemary’s Baby Paramount’s top-grossing film of the summer.
       The picture was condemned by the National Catholic Office for Motion Pictures, as reported in a 17 Jun 1968 DV article. The organization cited “several scenes of nudity” as deciding factors, but more importantly, “the perverted use which the film makes of fundamental Christian beliefs, especially in the events surrounding the birth of Christ, and its mockery of religious persons and practices.” Some practicing Catholics in the film industry were said to have defended the film on the basis that it treated Satan as a real entity, therefore reaffirming “traditional religious thought.” Similarly offended by some of the picture’s religious content, England’s Board of Film Censors excised a portion of the scene in which Rosemary is impregnated by the devil, according to a 14 Jan 1969 NYT item. Polanski fought the fifteen-second cut, as stated in the 5 Feb 1969 Var, arguing, “There shouldn’t be censorship of any kind, anywhere.”
       Science fiction author Ray Bradbury proposed a new ending in an article published in the 26 Jan 1969 LAT. Instead of Rosemary relenting to the Satanists by shushing and rocking her “blasphemous child,” Bradbury suggested that Rosemary steal the baby from the Satanists, run to a cathedral, and pray on the altar, “O Lord, O God, O Lord God. Take back your Son!” while the Satanists, unable to enter the sacred building, peer in from open doorways. Likely in response to Bradbury’s article, Polanski defended the ending while acting as a guest speaker at a University of Southern California (USC) film class, the 17 Feb 1969 DV reported. Polanski claimed, “I’m an atheist and I’ll stick with my basic mother instinct for the end.”
       A twenty-three-minute promotional film was shot behind-the-scenes by Sharokh Hatami. Titled Mia and Roman, the short film was screened at Hollywood’s Lytton Center, as noted in a 9 Jul 1968 LAT brief, and was later included in the Rosemary’s Baby: Collector’s Edition home video version released by Paramount Home Video in 2000, according to a review in the 27 Oct 2000 Entertainment Weekly.
       Rosemary’s Baby was ranked ninth on AFI’s 2001 100 Years…100 Thrills list of the most thrilling American films of all time. Ruth Gordon won an Academy Award for Actress in a Supporting Role and a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture. Polanski was nominated for an Academy Award for Writing (Screenplay – based on material from another medium) and a Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay – Motion Picture. Golden Globe nominations also went to Mia Farrow for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, and to Christopher Komeda for Best Original Score – Motion Picture. It won Italian David Di Donatello Awards for Best Director and Best Actress, as noted in the 9 Jul 1969 Var, and was named Best Foreign Picture by the Association of French Film & TV Critics, according to a 31 Dec 1969 Var brief. Polanski was also named “Director of the Year” by the Loew’s theater circuit, as stated in the 5 Feb 1969 DV.
       Thirty years after the original novel was released, Ira Levin wrote a sequel, titled Son of Rosemary, published by Dutton in 1997. According to a 30 Dec 1996 Publishers Weekly item, Levin dedicated the book to Mia Farrow.
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
13 Mar 1967
p. 1.
Daily Variety
5 May 1967
p. 2.
Daily Variety
25 May 1967
p. 2.
Daily Variety
10 Jul 1967
p. 1.
Daily Variety
14 Jul 1967
p. 6.
Daily Variety
18 Aug 1967
p. 6.
Daily Variety
22 Aug 1967
p. 3.
Daily Variety
24 Aug 1967
p. 3.
Daily Variety
25 Aug 1967
p. 9.
Daily Variety
10 Jan 1968
p. 7.
Daily Variety
17 Jan 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
6 Mar 1968
p. 15.
Daily Variety
22 May 1968
p. 18.
Daily Variety
24 May 1968
p. 1, 23.
Daily Variety
29 May 1968
p. 3.
Daily Variety
17 Jun 1968
p. 1, 15.
Daily Variety
21 Jun 1968
p. 3.
Daily Variety
28 Jun 1968
p. 6.
Daily Variety
17 Oct 1968.
---
Daily Variety
5 Feb 1969
p. 3.
Daily Variety
17 Feb 1969
p. 2.
Entertainment Weekly
27 Oct 2000.
---
Los Angeles Times
7 Mar 1967
Section D, p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
11 Jul 1967
Section C, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
24 Jul 1967
Section D, p. 27.
Los Angeles Times
9 Sep 1967
p. 19.
Los Angeles Times
6 Nov 1967
Section C, p. 28.
Los Angeles Times
23 Nov 1967
p. 3, 33.
Los Angeles Times
25 Nov 1967
p. 38.
Los Angeles Times
27 Nov 1967
Section C, p. 30.
Los Angeles Times
9 Dec 1967
p. 18.
Los Angeles Times
16 Dec 1967
p. 17.
Los Angeles Times
18 Dec 1967
Section C, p. 33.
Los Angeles Times
10 May 1968
Section D, p. 17.
Los Angeles Times
14 Jun 1968
Section H, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
20 Jun 1968
Section E, p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
9 Jul 1968
Section E, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
11 Jul 1968
Section D, p. 16.
Los Angeles Times
27 Dec 1968
Section F, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
26 Jan 1969.
---
New York Times
14 Aug 1967
p. 38.
New York Times
13 Jun 1968
p. 57.
New York Times
23 Jun 1968
Section D, p. 13.
New York Times
21 Sep 1968
p. 27.
New York Times
14 Jan 1969
p. 35.
New York Times
26 Jan 1969
Section N, p. 1.
New York Times
24 Jan 2013
Section E, p. 6.
Publisher's Weekly
30 Dec 1996
p. 18.
Variety
22 Mar 1967
p. 13.
Variety
19 Apr 1967
p. 67.
Variety
30 Aug 1967
p. 18.
Variety
1 Nov 1967
p. 16.
Variety
20 Dec 1967
p. 22.
Variety
3 Jul 1968
p. 7.
Variety
3 Jul 1968
p. 22.
Variety
31 Jul 1968
p. 1, 62.
Variety
11 Sep 1968
p. 3.
Variety
5 Feb 1969
p. 33.
Variety
9 Jul 1969
p. 24.
Variety
31 Dec 1969
p. 20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A William Castle Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Makeup
Miss Farrow's hairstyles created by
Miss Farrow's hairstyles created by
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
Scr cont
Dialogue coach
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin (New York, 1967).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
12 June 1968
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 12 June 1968 at the Criterion and Tower East
Los Angeles opening: 14 June 1968 at the Crest Westwood
Production Date:
21 August--mid December 1967
Copyright Claimant:
William Castle Enterprises
Copyright Date:
12 June 1968
Copyright Number:
LP36431
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
137
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Newlyweds Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse move into The Bramford, an old New York apartment building, which, they are told by their friend Hutch, has an infamous history. Shortly thereafter, Terry, the ward of their intrusive next door neighbors, the Castevets, leaps to her death. Although Rosemary avoids Roman and Minnie Castevet, her husband, an ambitious television actor, enjoys Roman's flattery and spends his evenings with the old couple. When a rival actor is mysteriously blinded, Guy is awarded a choice part in a Broadway show. In celebration of his good fortune, Guy and Rosemary plan to conceive a child. Minnie presents Rosemary with an unappetizing dessert, which she eats out of politeness. Rosemary becomes dizzy, and Guy carries her to bed. Upon awakening, Rosemary remembers having intercourse with a rough beast before an elderly coven, but Guy assures her that the scratches on her body are the result of his drunken lovemaking. Finding herself pregnant, Rosemary consults Dr. Sapirstein, a noted obstetrician recommended by the Castevets. Instead of vitamins, Sapirstein prescribes a tonic concocted by Minnie. Alarmed by Rosemary's subsequent loss of weight and cramps, Hutch investigates Minnie's potion. Alarmed by his findings, Hutch arranges to meet Rosemary, but he falls into a coma and dies. At his funeral, Rosemary receives his legacy, a book entitled All of Them Witches, from which she deduces that the name Roman Castevet is an anagram of the celebrated warlock, Steven Marcato. Certain that the Castevets, Guy, and Sapirstein have conspired to murder her unborn child, Rosemary seeks refuge with Dr. Hill, her former gynecologist, who betrays her to the conspirators. In her apartment, Rosemary ... +


Newlyweds Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse move into The Bramford, an old New York apartment building, which, they are told by their friend Hutch, has an infamous history. Shortly thereafter, Terry, the ward of their intrusive next door neighbors, the Castevets, leaps to her death. Although Rosemary avoids Roman and Minnie Castevet, her husband, an ambitious television actor, enjoys Roman's flattery and spends his evenings with the old couple. When a rival actor is mysteriously blinded, Guy is awarded a choice part in a Broadway show. In celebration of his good fortune, Guy and Rosemary plan to conceive a child. Minnie presents Rosemary with an unappetizing dessert, which she eats out of politeness. Rosemary becomes dizzy, and Guy carries her to bed. Upon awakening, Rosemary remembers having intercourse with a rough beast before an elderly coven, but Guy assures her that the scratches on her body are the result of his drunken lovemaking. Finding herself pregnant, Rosemary consults Dr. Sapirstein, a noted obstetrician recommended by the Castevets. Instead of vitamins, Sapirstein prescribes a tonic concocted by Minnie. Alarmed by Rosemary's subsequent loss of weight and cramps, Hutch investigates Minnie's potion. Alarmed by his findings, Hutch arranges to meet Rosemary, but he falls into a coma and dies. At his funeral, Rosemary receives his legacy, a book entitled All of Them Witches, from which she deduces that the name Roman Castevet is an anagram of the celebrated warlock, Steven Marcato. Certain that the Castevets, Guy, and Sapirstein have conspired to murder her unborn child, Rosemary seeks refuge with Dr. Hill, her former gynecologist, who betrays her to the conspirators. In her apartment, Rosemary is delivered of a son. When she asks to see the baby, Guy informs her that the boy was born dead. Having heard an infant crying in the next apartment, Rosemary arms herself with a butcher knife. In the Castevets' living room she discovers the coven and her son Adrian, the antichrist, nestled in a black basinet. Although Rosemary recoils at the sight, she hums him a lullaby. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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