Behind The Scenes Saturday: Rosemary’s Baby

It’s now week three of Behind The Scenes Saturday. This week, I picked Rosemary’s Baby, because it’s just been on my mind lately. It’s cinematically beautiful, the mystery was intriguing, and I absolutely love Ira Levin’s book the film is based on.

(Trivia provided by IMDb.com)

SPOILER ALERT!!

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  • Mia Farrow (Rosemary) once stated that the scene where Rosemary walks straight through traffic was spontaneous and genuine. Director, Roman Polanski, supposedly told her that “nobody will hit a pregnant woman”. Since he was the only one willing to walk into real traffic with Farrow, Polanski was the one who walked beside her and filmed the scene with a hand-held camera.
  • Despite being a vegetarian at the time, Mia Farrow ate raw liver for a scene in the movie.
  • When filming the scene where Rosemary calls Donald Baumgart (the actor who went blind in the film), Mia Farrow didn’t know who was speaking the dialogue on the other line. Tony Curtis was the one who provided the lines. Polanski wanted confusion from Mia Farrow for the scene, and he got just that when Farrow had trouble placing Curtis’s voice.
  • The novel’s author, Ira Levin felt that this film was “the single most faithful adaptation of a novel to ever come out of Hollywood”. The film’s producer, William Castle, stated it was the first time Roman Polanski adapted from a novel, and he was unaware he had the freedom to improvise on the book.
  • Mia stated in an interview that the actor who played the Devil, Clay Tanner, was completely nude during the rape scene. He was only dressed up in demonic makeup and vertical contact lenses. The scene reportedly took hours to shoot. When the scene was finished, Clay stood up, shook Mia’s hand in a professional way, and said, “Miss Farrow, it was a pleasure working with you”. She shook his hand back and said, “Thank you”. She stated that “he was a very lovely man”.

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  • The reason we never hear about Rosemary’s parents is because, being catholic and raising her catholic, they didn’t like that she married Guy, who had a mixed Jewish/Protestant religious background. It’s said that this could be the reason she never goes to them when all of these horrific events happened.
  • Roman Polanski stated that working with John Cassavetes (Guy) was not his best experience. He said that John was not very comfortable with the role. Mia Farrow stated that John hated Polanski’s highly structured method of shooting scenes. He preferred improvising and a much more free-wheeling approach. In an interview, Polanski stated that Cassavetes was a “pain in the a**”.
  • William Castle was the one who got the movie rights to the novel. Paramount agreed to green-light the film ONLY if Castle didn’t direct it, because of his reputation of directing low-budget horror films. Castle ended up getting a cameo as the man standing next to the phone booth while Rosemary is making a call.
  • There was a deleted scene of the characters attending an off-broadway play. Rosemary and Elise (Emmaline Henry) watch The Fantasticks and meet Joan Crawford and Van Johnson (as themselves). The scene was cut out to reduce the film’s running time.
  • There’s been many known movie set “curses” over the years. William Castle was positive that there was a curse surrounding Rosemary’s Baby. He believed the Sharon Tate murders, a urinary tract infection, and other various illnesses he got during that period was evident of the curse. He was so convinced the Devil was out to get him, he became a recluse for years.

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© Bob Willoughby / mptvimages.com

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  • It is said that Mia Farrow left her husband, Frank Sinatra, to make this film. With their marriage suffering, he pressured her to quit the film. She was going to quit, but then Paramount executive, Robert Evans, told her she could win an Oscar for this performance. That was enough to convince her, so she stayed with the project. Sinatra ended up serving her divorce papers on the film set days later. Farrow ended up not even being nominated for an Oscar for her performance in this film.
  • The film not only follows the novel to a T, there are also tiny details explained in the novel that the film also shows. For instance, the two chocolate mousse cups have different toppings, supposedly so Guy doesn’t get them mixed up and give Rosemary the wrong one. Also, when Rosemary visits Dr. Hill for the second time, he has a mustache that’s “blonde and barely noticeable”, as described in the book.
  • People have interpreted Rosemary’s horror as “the psychological horror of an anti-Semitic woman in a mixed marriage”. As a catholic woman, she views her mixed Jewish/Protestant husband as evil, her Jewish and Protestant neighbors as Satan worshippers, and her baby as the spawn of Satan for not being baptized. It’s just a fan theory, of course.
  • William Castle wanted to show a really grotesque baby at the end of the film when Rosemary sees him for the first time. Polanski refused, wanting a more ambiguous scene. In my opinion, the ambiguity definitely worked for the film.
  • In the film, Rosemary eats raw meat after the New Years party. The novel explains that it’s a chicken’s heart. In the olden days, chickens were believed to be symbols of God and light. Because of the anti-Christ inside her, this is the only raw meat Rosemary eats that actually makes her sick.

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  • It’s never clear whether or not Terry’s death was indeed suicide or if she was murdered. It’s definitely possible the witches murdered her and made it look like a suicide because she refused to be their surrogate for the anti-Christ. It’s when they figured they had to drug a woman and force her to be a surrogate, cause convincing Terry obviously didn’t work.
  • The original cut of the film ran for over four hours. Polanski couldn’t decide what to cut out or cut down, so he let his editor, Sam O’Steen decide.
  • After Guy receives the call that Donal Baumgart has gone blind, he tells Rosemary that he has to go for a walk. In the Novel, Rosemary sits on the window seats, waiting to see Guy come out the main entrance, but he never does. It probably meant that Guy went to the Castevet’s apartment instead. It also symbolizes that Guy has become completely unpredictable to Rosemary.
  • As a thank you for showing their products in the film, Yamaha Corporation gave Polanski and Cassavetes free scooters. During the first few weeks of filming, Cassavetes and Polanski would race them around New York with Mia Farrow riding on the back seat.
  • Like Rosemary, Mia Farrow was also Catholic. Before starring in this film, she considered becoming a nun.

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