6.6/10
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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.

Director:

Louis Malle

Writers:

Polly Platt (story), Polly Platt (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Popularity
3,053 ( 34)

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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:
Brooke Shields ... Violet
Keith Carradine ... Bellocq
Susan Sarandon ... Hattie
Frances Faye ... Nell
Antonio Fargas ... Professor
Matthew Anton Matthew Anton ... Red Top
Diana Scarwid ... Frieda
Barbara Steele ... Josephine
Seret Scott Seret Scott ... Flora
Cheryl Markowitz Cheryl Markowitz ... Gussie
Susan Manskey Susan Manskey ... Fanny
Laura Zimmerman Laura Zimmerman ... Agnes
Miz Mary Miz Mary ... Odette
Gerrit Graham ... Highpockets
Mae Mercer 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:

1917. The red-light district of New Orleans. The story of the women. The photographer. And the prostitute's daughter. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 April 1978 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Niña bonita See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$5,786,368
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The title is inspired by the Tony Jackson song, which is used in the soundtrack. See more »

Goofs

Violet, distraught and crying, approaches a door and repeatedly bangs on it. No sound other than Violet weeping (itself obviously dubbed) can be heard. See more »

Quotes

Bellocq: Leave me alone.
Violet: You hate me.
Bellocq: I have no time for hate or love.
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 »

Alternate Versions

Against his own wishes UK censor James Ferman was forced to make minor edits to the original cinema version under the 1978 Protection of Children Act, and pubic hair was optically airbrushed onto a scene where Brooke Shields is sitting with her legs slightly spread so that 'the actual cleft was not visible'. A further cut was also made to remove a very brief shot of her standing up in a bath. The edits were fully waived for the 1987 video release. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Sex Violence & Values: Changing Images (1986) See more »

Soundtracks

Swipesy
(uncredited)
Music by Scott Joplin and Arthur Marshall
Played at the dinner before the auction
See more »

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User Reviews

Very pretty and very solid
18 January 2004 | by fertilecelluloidSee 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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