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Monday June 18th 2018

Rosemary's Baby | 1968

Rosemary's Baby location: The Dakota, West 72nd Street, New York
Rosemary’s Baby location: The spooky ‘Bramford Building’: The Dakota, West 72nd Street, New York

For a while, it looked like the master of schlock, William Castle, was going to direct the film of Ira Levin’s novel, but, in the end, Castle stood aside to become producer.

Roman Polanski perfectly captures the paranoia growing beneath the seemingly ordinary domestic surface, while veteran Ruth Gordon steals the show as the Woodhouse’s busybody neighbour, Minnie Castevet. Castle is rewarded with a cameo as the cigar-smoking man waiting outside the phone booth as a distraught Rosemary Woodhouse calls Dr Hill for help.

The ‘Bramford’, the brooding Gothic building where newlyweds Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse (Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes) set up home is, of course, the Dakota Apartments, 1 West 72nd Street at Central Park West.

Other occupants of the Dakota, who seem to have had a happier time in the building, include Judy Garland, Lauren Bacall, Boris Karloff and Leonard Bernstein.

Most famously, of course, the block was the last home of John Lennon, who was gunned down at the building’s entrance in December 1980. Across the road, in Central Park, is Lennon’s memorial, Strawberry Fields.

Ira Levin’s original story was inspired by the Alwyn Court Apartments, a Renaissance-style block, decorated with terracotta dragons, at 180 West 58th Street – which now also houses Petrossian restaurant (where you can probably hear the Trench sisters chewing).

Rosemary's Baby film location: Alwyn Court, West 58th Street, New York
Rosemary’s Baby location: The ‘Bramford Building’ of Ira Levin’s novel: Alwyn Court, West 58th Street, New York

The only other movie to be filmed at the Dakota was Joseph L Mankiewicz’s 1949 House of Strangers with Edward G Robinson and Susan Hayward. Filming is no longer permitted in the block, though the Dakota’s exterior can be seen as the home of Tom Cruise in Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky.