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Pretty Baby | DVD Review

At the time of its production, Louis Malle’s 1978 title Pretty Baby (the title derived from the Tony Jackson song) was quite the scandal, a period piece frankly depicting child prostitution in turn of the century New Orleans. But like many provocative titles from the period (another being Richard BrooksLooking For Mr. Goodbar), decades of suppression has resulted in unavailability and a disappearance from modern cinematic conversations. Recently made available courtesy of the Warner Bros. Archive collection (solely on DVD) this is property begging for a more masterful restoration.

In the Red Lights district of 1917 New Orleans, legal prostitution is on the wane as a surge of conservative, religious rhetoric begins to sweep through the country. Nell (Francis Faye) owns a booming brothel in the famed Storyville district, and one of her most notable employees is Hattie (Susan Sarandon), whose twelve-year-old daughter Violet (Brooke Shields) has grown up within the house.

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