Sunday, November 05, 2017

"Rosemary's Baby" and Great Character Actors

ROSEMARY'S BABY must have one of the finest casts of character actors since some of the classic Universal horror films of the '30s and '40s. Made by Paramount in 1968, the film straddles the very tail end of the last vestiges of the old studio system, and the era of New Hollywood. And one of the best aspects of the former is the great roster of character actors who make up much of the supporting cast.

Watching the film again at the Charles Theatre recently, right before Halloween, I raced to count all the familiar names in the opening credits: in addition to the wonderful Ruth Gordon, we have Sidney Blackmer, Maurice Evans, Ralph Bellamy, Patsy Kelly, and Elisha Cook Jr., among others. Seeing these familiar faces as characters involved in a Satanic cult makes the proceedings all the more unsettling. Polanski likely chose these actors precisely for their strong identification with certain "types", which would have been especially recognizable to moviegoers in 1968. It's an inspired casting decision. 

And I love seeing John Cassavetes do his impression of Elisha Cook!

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