6.6/10
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70 user 28 critic

Pretty Baby (1978)

R | | Drama | 5 April 1978 (USA)
A teenage girl lives as a prostitute in New Orleans in 1917.

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(story), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
...
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Matthew Anton ...
...
...
Seret Scott ...
Cheryl Markowitz ...
Susan Manskey ...
Fanny
Laura Zimmerman ...
Agnes
Miz Mary ...
Odette
...
Highpockets
Mae Mercer ...
Mama Mosebery
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Storyline

In 1917, in the red light district Storyville, New Orleans, the prostitute Hattie lives with her twelve year-old daughter Violet in the fancy brothel of Madame Nell, where she works. Photographer Ernest J. Bellocq has an attraction to Hallie and Violet and he is an habitué of the whorehouse. One day, Madame Nell auctions Violet's virginity and the winner pays the fortune of US$ 400 to spend the night with the girl. Then Hattie marries a wealthy client and moves to Saint Louis, leaving Violet in the brothel alone. Violet decides to marry Bellocq and she moves to his house. Until the day that Hattie, who has overcome her past, comes to Bellocq's house with the intention to take Violet with her. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

In 1917, in the red-light district of New Orleans, they called her "Pretty Baby" See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

5 April 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Niña bonita  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jennifer Jason Leigh did an audition for the role of Violet. See more »

Goofs

In the final scene, E.J. Bellocq pictures Violet with a Kodak No. 2 Portrait Brownie, which wasn't available until 1929. See more »

Quotes

Nell: [starting the auction for Violet's virginity] A virgin, bona fide.
Brothel Patron: How old is she?
Nell: Do you want to put me in jail? She's just old enough. She's the finest delicacy New Orleans has to offer, and it's her wish that one of you gentleman be the first.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The closing credits include a card that states, "With our gratitude for the priceless music of FERDINAND "JELLY ROLL" MORTON." See more »

Connections

Featured in Casting By (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Heliotrope Bouquet
(uncredited)
Music by Scott Joplin and Louis Chauvin
Played by the band after the auction
See more »

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User Reviews

Very pretty and very solid
18 January 2004 | by (Mountains of Madness) – See all my reviews

At the time of its release, PRETTY BABY attracted a lot of controversy for its subject matter and matter-of-fact nudity of pre-teen Brook Shields (Violet).

Now it would probably not get made at all -- which is a shame, because it's a solidly written and directed drama.

The late Louis Malle, who also directed the amazing BLACK MOON, approaches the subject of child prostitution without judgement or moralizing.

The film's effectiveness comes from a script that does not burden any of its characters with explanatory dialog. Most of the dialog heard is of the incidental kind. Characters do not pause to explain situations or pontificate. Malle captures glances, body language, reflections and uses the non-verbal to tell his very human story of a New Orleans cathouse.

Susan Sarandon, as Violet's prostitute mother, turns in a fine performance as a woman in denial of her reality. Keith Carradine, who plays a photographer who falls in love with Violet, delivers a perfectly tuned performance with little more than than a dozen lines of dialogue. Also worth nothing is the beautiful performance of Francis Faye as Nell, the cathouse madam. She brings a sharp gift for irony to her role.

Brooke is very, very good, too, and this was the performance of her career.


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