Pretty Baby (1978)

R   |    |  Drama

Pretty Baby (1978) Poster

A teenage girl lives as a prostitute in New Orleans in 1917.

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  • Brooke Shields in Pretty Baby (1978)
  • Susan Sarandon and Brooke Shields at an event for Pretty Baby (1978)
  • Brooke Shields and Keith Carradine in Pretty Baby (1978)
  • Susan Sarandon and Brooke Shields in Pretty Baby (1978)
  • Brooke Shields and Keith Carradine in Pretty Baby (1978)
  • Brooke Shields in Pretty Baby (1978)

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5 June 2006 | futures-1
Can you step outside of yourself for two hours?
"Pretty Baby" (1978): Usually, when a controversial film comes out, the hubbub dies off in a few weeks. Later, people wonder why anyone got upset at all. In this case, I think the opposite is the case. There WAS some buzz about "Pretty Baby" when it premiered in 1978, but NOW? People would be killing the director, photographer, and screen writers in the names of Decency & Righteousness. It's a crazy world. Photographed by Sven Nykvist (Ingmar Bergman's photographer), Louis Malle directed this Polly Platt screenplay about the real life New Orleans documentary photographer E.J. Bellocq. He spent much of his career photographing those no one else would – the prostitutes of N.O. - and eventually became involved with a young girl (Brooke Shields) raised by her prostitute single mother (Susan Sarandon), to be a prostitute herself. There's an interesting push/pull to this film. It is SO beautifully photographed, and the prostitutes shown SO human, there is much warmth in the scenes, yet the facts remain difficult to accept – life was what it was, and they did what they had to do to survive in the turn-of-the-century South. This is NOT a story of tragedy (except in personal terms that have nothing to do with the profession). Most everyone went about their days in matter-of-fact acceptance of their "station" in life, and did not get ulcers. They had a roof, decent money, good food, servants, and a place to raise their "accident" children. "Pretty Baby" asks you to step outside your contemporary world and standards, and try, just for two hours, to see another point of view. It's an interesting challenge…perhaps more now than even a mere 30 years ago.

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