Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Rosemary's Baby

Our London National Film Theatre is also showing a season of Polanski films in January and February. I shall be going to see one of my favourites, his 1967 DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES (or THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS - see Polanski, Horror labels) there as its ideal on the big screen with those scope compositions and I always enjoy it so much, so endlessly inventive and amusing with the gay and Jewish vampires and that castle we roam around; as luck would have it ROSEMARY'S BABY was screened on tv here last night.  I had not seen this landmark horror film since its release back in 1968 ... where Roman (whom I passed in the Kings Road Chelsea once) after his British hit REPULSION and that cult classic CUL-DE-SAC moved next to New York and the film of Ira Levin's novel.

With its inspired casting, terrific design (Richard Sylbert), camerawork (William Fraker), and score (by Polanski regular Komeda), the director's first American film is an exemplary thriller about a woman believing herself impregnated by the Devil in the guise of her husband. Crucial to its success - commercial as well as artistic - is the ambiguity as to whether her fears about Satanism in Manhattan are grounded in reality or the paranoia of the mother-to-be ...

It is still a marvellous movie, Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes as her actor husband who gets that lucky break, are both ideal - and Ruth Gordon is again simply marvellous as neighbour Minnie ... the film was made at just the right time, when the old Hollywood was changing, it is a landmark film of its era, up there with BONNIE AND CLYDE, IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, MIDNIGHT COWBOY .... the old studios and production codes were breaking down and more realistic films could be made with those interesting new performers and directors - as per my reviews at 60s label.  
One can see the film as a study of an isolated woman's descent into madness as she worries about her unborn child. We slowly begin to realise that the hysterical ravings of the heroine could be true .... later horror films like THE OMEN had to ramp up the shocks, but Polanski here paces everything we see perfectly (as with his classic CHINATOWN), what though happened to that other girl who had been taken up by the Castevets and ends up splattered on the sidewalk ?
Mia Farrow has hardly ever been better (I liked her in DEATH ON THE NILE too) it is a towering performance - like Catherine Denueve (right) in Polanski's '65 REPULSION, or Faye Dunaway in CHINATOWN, as per recent review); Cassavetes is ideal as the opportunist husband and Ruth, with her herbal drinks, does a dry run for her HAROLD AND MAUDE, young Charles Grodin scores too. The Dakota apartment block too is the perfect background.  Now I really must get around to watching those dvds of Polanski's THE TENANT (with favourites Isabelle Adjani, Shelley Winters, Jo Van Fleet, Lila Kedrova in that weird Paris apartment block) and also that neat Colin Firth thriller set in Buenos Aires APARTMENT ZERO ...

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