best film:   Rosemary’s Baby edges out Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters and Crimes and Misdemeanors. Polanski’s masterpiece is one of the milestones of the horror genre. This is a genre filled with awe-inspiring female lead performances- and none more so than Mia Farrow (at the young age of twenty-three).


1968 with only a few credits under her belt, hot young director Roman Polanski cast Mia Farrow in the all-important lead performance in Rosemary’s Baby



best performance:   Rosemary’s Baby. It is one of the all-time most underrated performances coming from perhaps the all-time most underrated actress (never once even an Oscar nomination).  Farrow goes through a profound physical and psychological transformation during the course of the film. She is warm and sweet to open the film, then paranoid (or appears so- and for good reason), ill and worn out, and then eventually, masterfully, terrified. The scenes of her panicked, on the run, in the final hour puts her work here up there with the best female performances of the entire 1960s.


stylistic innovations/traits:    Farrow has a one-two punch, and it makes for a strong case. On one hand, she has a towering lead performance in an incontestable masterpiece- check. Combine that with her large body of work with her one-time creative partner and husband Woody Allen.  She did a staggering amount of good work with Woody from 1982 to 1992. Like him or not, Woody is one of the great directors of women and this period with Farrow was incredibly rich with artistic experimentation. Look at her performances- her eight (8th) best performance might be The Great Gatsby—ninth (9th) might be Alice or Another Woman? So, there is clearly depth here.  Her work in say Purple Rose, Husbands and Wives and Broadway Danny Rose though all with one auteurshow such range as well.


Farrow’s career had really two starts– Rosemary’s Baby in 1968 of course, but her career largely stalled through the 1970s. Her career took off again when she and Woody Allen started working together (a marvelous frame from 1986’s Hannah and Her Sisters here) in the 1980s.



directors worked with:   Woody Allen (12) and then Rosemary’s Baby with Polanski of course


It is fair to ask whether one would not rather have Farrow’s twelve archiveable collaborations with Woody Allen (a top ten of the year film six times including 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1989 and 1992) instead of Diane Keaton’s seven archiveable collaborations with Woody. This shot here is from 1985’s The Purple Rose of Cairo


top five performances:

  1. Rosemary’s Baby
  2. The Purple Rose of Cairo
  3. Hannah and Her Sisters
  4. Husbands and Wives
  5. Broadway Danny Rose




archiveable films

1968- Rosemary’s Baby
1974- The Great Gatsby
1978- Death on the Nile
1982- A Midsummer’s Night Sex Comedy
1983- Zelig
1984- Broadway Danny Rose
1985- The Purple Rose of Cairo
1986- Hannah and Her Sisters
1987- Radio Days
1987- September
1988- Another Woman
1989- Crimes and Misdemeanors
1990- Alice
1991- Shadows and Fog
1992- Husband and Wives