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Ruth Gordon Movies

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Posted 2nd May 2009 at 09:29 AM by Sam@Cult Labs

Rosemary's Baby

"This isn't a dream... This is really happening!"

Mia Farrow stars with John Cassavetes in Roman Polanski's timeless chiller about Guy, a jobbing actor, and his elfin wife, moving into an old fashioned apartment building in New York City*. The filmmakers used the Dakota Building, which became infamous later on as the place outside which John Lennon was shot. The loving couple soon become friendly with the apparently sweet old couple who live next door, portrayed by Sidney Blackmer and the fantastic Ruth Gordon (Harold & Maude).

They seem friendly enough but they harbour a dark secret too terrible to contemplate. Rosemary becomes close to the old couple and Guys' acting career takes off suddenly. Then Rosemary falls pregnant. All seems well, but she is plagued by weakness and nightmares, as if her soul if being sapped by a dark force. It seems that the neighbours worship a higher power...Satan himself!

And now they want Rosemary's baby...

The film is still as chilling as it was 40 years ago, with Farrow pitching her performance as the winsome Rosemary just right while Gordon picked up a Best Supporting Actress award for her role as Minnie, the devil loving neighbour from hell. Psyched out dream sequences including a controversial scene in which Rosemary is violated by the devil, mix with a slow, creeping terror to create one of Hollywood's best horror movies. Director Polanski takes all the best elements of his earlier work like Repulsion and distils them into a taunt, slick thrill ride that will always be a classic.

Harold & Maude

The irreplaceable Ruth Gordon and the wonderfully weird Bud Cort star in this bizarre movie which is probably the most touching film you'll ever see about the love between a 79 year old woman and teenage boy. Stop! come back, it's not as distasteful as it sounds, being more of a classic early 70s flick from a time when big studios were running around like headless chickens, throwing real budgets at artists and letting them make the movies they wanted, rather then being anything tawdry or unpleasant.

Harold and Maude, though a total flop at the time, has gone to gain critical praise and cult status among fans of weird cinematic curios. Harold is a maudlin teenager, obsessed with death and dying, who spends his time trying to wind up his rich mother by theatrically staging his own suicide, by hanging, drowning and other means; Stunts that are studiously ignored by his long suffering parent.

Maude is a free spirited old lady, more in tune to the pulse of the young than the prematurely old Harold. She's not adverse to stealing cars in order to go on an adventure and is generally a batty old bohemian with a zest for life who lives for the moment.

She and Harold form an unlikely friendship that deepens into something more serious, as she brings the life out of the depressive young man, who appears to be some kind of proto-emo. The love affair is handled with the audiences sensibilities in mind and the result is a warm hearted, if very odd movie that is a fitting product of it's era.

* When I visited New York, ghoulish morbid curiosity meant that I visited the spot.
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