All Of Them Witches

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It always seemed strange that ROSEMARY’S BABY (1968) featured a character using the pseudonym Roman Castevet (anagram of his real name, Steven Marcato), and was directed by Roman Polanski and co-starred another director, John Cassavetes. Roman Roman Cassavetes Castevet. Also Marcato sounds like Mocata, the Crowleyesque leader of the Satanists in THE DEVIL RIDES OUT.

But it gets stranger. In TOO LATE BLUES (1961), directed by Cassavetes, Bobby Darin plays a musician called Ghost — and Polanski would later direct a film of the novel The Ghost, called THE GHOST WRITER in most countries but just THE GHOST in the UK, where it was assumed people would have read the book. In TOO LATE BLUES, Ghost’s romantic interest is played by Stella Stevens and her character is called Jess Polanski.

In ROSEMARY’S BABY, screenwriter/actress Ruth Gordon plays Minnie Castevet, and Cassavetes directed MINNIE AND MOSKOWITZ in which Gena Rowlands plays Minnie Moore.

TOO LATE BLUES has a supporting character called Skipper and ROSEMARY’S BABY has a character who is a ship’s skipper.

John Cassavetes’ OPENING NIGHT features Louise Lewis as a character called Kelly, whereas ROSEMARY’S BABY features a character called Laura-Louise played by Patsy Kelly.

Convinced yet? And of what?

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8 Responses to “All Of Them Witches”

  1. Coincidence, nearly occult parallels. Polanski himself expressed dislike for Cassavetes’ works as a director, believing them to be unpolished and unprofessional or at least that’s what he claimed.

  2. In Harry Stephen Keeler’s “The Case of the Two-Headed Idiot” (p. 31, RH), Abe Saperstein is a clothing drummer and victim of a car theft.

    Abraham Saperstein (1902-1966) was an Englishman who owned and coached the Harlem Globetrotters. He stuck the “Harlem” in the name to suggest that the team was African-American. They actually hailed from Chicago, birthplace of Harry Stephen Keeler and Ralph Bellamy.

    Dr. Abraham Sapirstein is a Satanic obstetrician, played by Ralph Bellamy, in “Rosemary’s Baby.”

    This profusion of Abe Sapersteins! Can it be… Coincidence? Rosemary: “I’m tired of hearing about how great Dr. Sapirstein is!”

    “Rosemary’s Baby” is on my mind because my pug dog, Roman Castevet, went gracefully into that good night three days ago at the advanced age of 16.

  3. Cassavetes’ filmmaking style is utterly antithetical to Roman’s. But he obviously liked and understood his work as an actor for his performance in “Rosemary’s Baby” is expert and precise (the way Roman likes it.)

  4. Note how skillfully he underplays here.

  5. Polanski got what he wanted from Cassavetes but it was a hard grind. Cassavetes objected to the love scenes, saying he didn’t make “skin flicks.” A similar objection from John Travolta caused Polanski’s film of The Double to disintegrate at the start of production

    David Lynch: “John Travolta owes it to cinema history to do whatever the hell Roman Polanski tells him to do.”

    Sorry about your dog, Edward. I am reminded that Polanski and Sharon Tate’s dog was called Dr. Sapirstein, and he was the first victim of the Manson Family.

  6. I am disgusted by Roman Polanski, but love his films. I am fascinated by Peter Bogdanovich, but loathe his films, except for TARGETS and SAINT JACK, which is the best film John Cassavetes never made. David Lynch was right about John Travolta, and Roman Polanski was right about John Cassavetes, except when Gena Rowlands is the star, and then he’s wrong. Since Stella Stevens plays a character named Jess Polanski in TOO LATE BLUES, is there a Jess Franco connection?

  7. There ought to be. And since Franco has 198 films to his name (at a conservative, IMDb-agreed estimate), there probably is. if you look hard enough. Certainly Franco worked with Klaus Kinski and Polanski worked on Nastassja Kinski…

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