When the now-classic horror film Rosemary’s Baby was released on June 12, 1968 — 50 years ago on Tuesday — the tale it told was already fairly well known. The Ira Levin novel of the same name, which TIME called “as unsettling as the first stirrings of a poison-ivy rash at the conclusion of a picnic,” had been a consistent best-seller since its 1967 release. It also was seen as a symbol of a larger real-world trend of interest in the mystical.
But that doesn’t mean the story didn’t hold mysteries — well, at least for TIME’s critics.
The movie earned a short but positive review in the magazine in 1968, with TIME praising “the very real acting ability of Mia Farrow” throughout her depiction of “what must be the most unpleasant pregnancy on record.” And, for anyone who was unfamiliar with the novel, the critic summed up the set up for Rosemary’s Baby:
As Rosemary Woodhouse, [Farrow] and her husband Guy (John Cassavetes) are delighted to find an apartment in the Branford, a penumbral old fortress of an apartment house on Manhattan’s Central Park West, modeled on the real-life Dakota at 1 West 72nd Street (where some of the exterior scenes were shot). Rosemary’s bookish old father figure, Hutch (Maurice Evans), is not too pleased; the Branford, he notes, has an unsavory history of suicides and diabolical doings, including the murder of a notorious Satanist.
The happy pair moves in anyway and—see how groundless Hutch’s fears were?—the funny old couple next door welcomes them with open arms. Guy, who is an actor, loves to go over and listen to Roman Castevet (Sidney Blackmer) talk about old times. Rosemary is more attracted to a girl of her own age who lives with the Castevets—it is a pity when she commits suicide by jumping out of the window. After that tragedy, the lonely Castevets grow closer than ever to Rosemary and Guy, whose acting career is suddenly beginning to go very well indeed. So well, in fact, that he agrees at last to let her have a baby. They carefully mark the date on the calendar when she will be most likely to conceive.
That night turns out to be really devil-may-care, what with the martinis, and Minnie Castevet coming over with a funny-tasting chocolate mousse, and Rosemary passing out and having a hellish dream in which somebody (or something?) draws marks on her naked body. There are scratches on her back and sides the next morning—Guy admits that he had had a few too many drinks himself.
A mistake in the review, however, prompted a letter to the editor from none other than author Ira Levin, who reminded readers what might have seemed like a small mistake in the plot description actually served to erase one of the story’s not-so-hidden layers: “I am delighted by your praise of the movie version of my book Rosemary’s Baby [June 21] and aghast at your …read more
Source:: Time – Entertainment