6.7/10
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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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Matthew Anton ...
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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

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jack Nicholson was the second choice to play Bellocq. See more »

Goofs

In one scene, Violet holds a plastic doll as opposed to a composite one. Plastic dolls weren't available until the late 1940s. See more »

Quotes

Nell: There's only two things to do on rainy days, and I don't like to play cards.
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

Edited into Chop Suey (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Swipesy
(uncredited)
Music by Scott Joplin and Arthur Marshall
Played at the dinner before the auction
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User Reviews

Can you step outside of yourself for two hours?
5 June 2006 | by (Ronn Ives/FUTURES Antiques, Norfolk, VA.) – See all my reviews

"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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