"New York, You've Changed" is a new Scouting NY feature in which
the New York depicted in movies is compared with the city of today. Not
just the usual list of shooting locations, this is a full shot-by-shot
dissection to see what New York once was and what it has become, for
better or worse.
be running Halloween-themed posts this week in honor of the holiday,
and there seemed no better way to start than to take a New York, You've Changed look at one of the best New York City horror films ever made, Rosemary's Baby.
As thecredits roll, the film begins with a panoramic aerial view ofnorth-east New York, taken from the roof of The Majestic apartmentbuilding across the street from the Dakota (if anyone has a contact atThe Majestic, I'd love to go up and shoot how the cityscape haschanged). We finally come to settle on a very low angle view of thebeautiful Dakota at 72nd St & Central Park West (called TheBramford in the film):
The Dakotawas constructed between 1880 and 1884 and originally had 65 apartmentsconsisting of 4 to 20 rooms, with no two alike.
A picture of the Dakota circa 1890, when the Upper West Side was a bit less crowded:
One of my favorite building ornamentations in New York can be found lining the iron fence surrounding the Dakota:
It's even on the entrance to the 72nd Street subway station:
In addition, the subway has a great antique sign above the stairwell entrance:
As the movieopens, we meet Rosemary and her husband Guy as they visit the Dakota tosee a vacant apartment (how they can afford anything in the Dakota,with Guy depicted as a struggling actor, is a bit of witchcraft initself).
As they're touring their new apartment, they notice a bureau curiously pushed up against a closet door.
They move it aside and indeed find a closet.
We laterfind out that this hallway originally connected to the neighboringapartment (owned by the devil-worshiping Castevets). Breaking upapartments into smaller units by dividing the hallways is not uncommon.In the Apthorp, a building similar in idea to the Dakota, for example...
...apartmentsthat used to span an entire floor have been broken up into smallerunits by dividing the hallways with closets. If you were to punchthrough the back of this closet, you'd find yourself in the neighboringapartment (when I was scouting this, all I could think about was Rosemary's Baby):
This closet, also in the Apthorp, still has a door to the kitchen as its back wall:
Afterseeing the apartment, Rosemary convinces Guy in a walk-and-talk (filmlingo!) that they should take it. Assuming they're walking away fromthe building on 72nd Street (which would make sense, based on thetraffic), I believe they're approaching Broadway, which would mean theCalifornian restaurant is now a Gray's Papaya.
However, the shot moves too quickly to be 100% sure. Another angle:
Aftersettling in, Rosemary and Guy come home one night to find that a fellowresident (a woman who had a mysterious relationship with the Castevets)has committed suicide. I believe the corpse is just about where thatspot is on the sidewalk in the second picture (the people dressed asgarden gnomes were doing some sort of photoshoot in front of theDakota).
At the crimescene, we get a shot of Minnie Castevet and a view across the street.Not surprisingly, very little has changed. I'd like to know when theMTA painted all the subway globes green...
After this,Rosemary and Guy find themselves quickly becoming friends with theCastevets. Guy is having trouble getting acting gigs, and then suddenlyis offered an important role when a rival actor goes blind. Meanwhile,Rosemary is unhappy at home and voices her troubles to friend Hutch.Here, they walk along an avenue, and it's killing me that I can'tfigure this one out. You can see an elevated ramp in the background ofthe shot, and there are very few of these in Manhattan. Any guesses?
Followingthis scene, Rosemary is given her infamous tannis root necklace (nosuch thing as tannis root, FYI), is raped by Satan, gets a suddencraving for raw steak, loses tons of weight and skin color, and cutsoff her hair. As she becomes more and more anxious about her pregnancy,she gets a call from Hutch who says he has something urgent to tellher. They agree to meet outside the Time Life building, but Hutch nevershows.
The squigglypattern in the ground was based on the famous sidewalks of Rio deJaniero's Copacabana Beach - here's a picture taken by Flickr user Mondmann:
For some reason, it seems like the colors are inverted between the two pictures - no clue why this is.
Note the new fountain on the right:
Rosemary checks her time with the Newsweek building clock down 50th Street...Can't do that anymore!
Finally, she goes into the building to give Hutch a call.
Same mural in the lobby:
The lobby was closed, or I would have gone in to see if this payphone is still there:
Afterlearning that Hutch has suddenly became intensely ill, Rosemary wandersover to Fifth Avenue - specifically, the first window at Tiffany's,where she admires a manger scene.
It's hard to escape the Castevets - Minnie finds her there immediately and helps get her home.
Hutch laterdies, and Rosemary becomes convinced that the Castevets are part of acoven. She tells this to her OBGYN, Dr. Saperstein, who convenientlyinforms her that the Castevets will be going on a long vacation andthat they're nothing to worry about. A quick view down 72nd Street asthe doorman calls them a cab...
...and a farewell to the Castevets...for now.
As Guy escorts Rosemary back inside, we get a close-up view of the guard booth, which has turned gold in recent years:
Thingscontinue to spiral downhill for poor Rosemary as she becomes convincedthat Guy is in on the conspiracy. In a whirl, she walks into the middleof traffic on Fifth Ave at 55th Street. Was that gold thing on thestand a mailbox?
The enormous Disney store now occupies that corner building:
Last time wesaw Rosemary on Fifth Ave, the trees in Central Park were dead. Nice tosee a film actually show the passage of time:
Rosemary rips the tannis root necklace off and tosses it down a drain:
This is theone location I was really hoping to find: the famous drain whereRosemary gets rid of her cursed necklace. Unfortunately, there's nodrain where it should be, and watching the scene, you can see that shotcuts away JUST as the camera angle drops down to the ground (suggestingthe drain is elsewhere and they cheated it being on Fifth Ave).
She thengoes to a bookstore to purchase a few more books on witchcraft. No cluewhere this is - I originally thought it might be Argosy, but the twodon't match up. There's a reflection of a neon sign in the window, butit's too slight to make out. Any guesses?
Afterreading the books, Rosemary realizes that Guy was responsible forcausing his rival to go blind and has betrayed her. She packs a bag andflees the apartment to Dr. Saperstein's office. There, she learns thathe's in on the conspiracy as well and quickly leaves. We get our firstlook at the exterior of his office, located at 62nd St and Fifth Ave.
The full exterior of the office - a very nice address for a Satanist:
Rosemary turns onto Fifth Ave and heads for that phone booth on the corner:
Inside, she frantically calls her original doctor, Dr. Hill, and schedules a last minute appointment.
She takes a cab to his office, located at 650 Park Avenue:
There, sheconfesses everything, and Dr. Hill actually believes her. However,before he can help, the coven tracks her down and forces her to returnto the apartment:
I swear, every time I watch the film, I find myself hoping that Rosemary will get away. Unfortunately...
From here,there's no escape. Rosemary returns to the apartment and gives birth tothe son of Satan. The film ends with her rocking the baby to sleep, andthen a final shot of the Dakota.
I was really excited to do a photo essay on the locations in Rosemary's Baby - it's one of my favorite films, and I had initially planned to put the article together following our look at Ghostbusters.
However, as I was rewatching the film, I was completely surprised to
find that there are actually very few exterior shots of New York. The
vast majority of the film takes place in the apartment, with only a
handful of scenes that show the city.
And yet, the film is still an archetypal New York movie. Polanski
brilliantly uses the city to induce a heavy sense of claustrophobia:
despite being in such a teeming metropolis, Rosemary is trapped for
most of the film in the her dusty old apartment, denied any reprieve or
freedom from her agony.
Make sure to check your candy for tannis root this Halloween!
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