6.6/10
7,526
71 user 28 critic

Pretty Baby (1978)

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

Director:

Writers:

(story), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Popularity
2,619 ( 211)

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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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...
...
...
...
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:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Robert Redford was originally offered the role of Bellocq, but turned it down. See more »

Goofs

Violet is shown completely nude when lying on the sofa but when she sits up she is wearing panties. See more »

Quotes

Frieda: Do not forget, this guy is buying a virgin, so she's got to act it right. You've got to give him the idea that you don't know nothing. It should be like a rape.
Josephine: You don't know. Could be a different kind of guy. Someone that wants you to act like she wants it.
Frieda: The main thing is to whimper and cry when he starts, but then you've got to act like it feels good.
Violet: I know what to do. Leave me alone.
Hattie: Well, don't act like you know it all. You won't even get a tip that way.
Fanny: Violet, you should touch him ...
[...]
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

Referenced in Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship & Videotape (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Madamoiselle from Armentières
(uncredited)
Traditional
Sung around the piano
See more »

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User Reviews

Beautiful, intelligent, evocative
17 August 2004 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

Louis Malle did an amazing job of portraying the Storyville life (red light district), and the lives of the women caught up in it. He gets the finest work out of his cast, and demonstrates what it makes him a master filmmaker: not someone who just makes movies to impress other directors, but someone who touches an audience.

He begins and ends the film with the camera slowly closing in on the wide eyes of its child-lead, making you wonder how her life will proceed, having seen what she's seen. It makes you wonder whether marriage, in those times, was any different for a woman than prostitution. Mostly, you have to wonder how Violet could adapt to normal life, with the strange perspective she's had on it so far.

The petulance and "spoiled"ness described in the review below, are merely her childishness, to illustrate that she is an ordinary child in bizarre circumstances. For those not carried away by Shields' appearance, this made the film very poignant -- this child doesn't even know that there is any other way to live.

And the viewer can put away concerns for Shields herself: the nude scenes were done by a body-double, despite what is listed in the "trivia" section of this listing. (I know someone who later worked with the body double.)


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