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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
1,955 ( 595)

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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

Dana Plato later claimed that she had been offered the lead role but her mother Kay had 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

Bellocq: [about Violet] What will become of her now?
Nell: What's going on with you? You don't have to worry about her. She's made a lot of money. She can do as she likes.
Bellocq: She's only twelve. She's completely alone.
Nell: Bellocq, you're in love with her.
Bellocq: Don't be absurd.
Nell: I've seen it a thousand times. I am old, and I know one thing - life is very long.
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 »


Soundtracks

Creole Belles
(uncredited)
Music by J. Bodewalt Lampe
Played when Frieda is talking to Violet about the old man
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Ultimately, a damp squib... though a controversial one.
20 April 2006 | by Asa_Nisi_Masa2See all my reviews

Pretty Baby started off very well and I immediately thought: This is gonna be a gem! But it seemingly lost steam in the second half, petering out quite disappointingly towards the end. It was as if Louis Malle had been in a bit of a rush to conclude the story. Brooke Shields really was an angelically beautiful child - she seemingly peeked so early! The atmosphere in the brothel scenes was the best thing about the movie, probably helped by the fact that the photographer Bellocq's real photographs were used to get a sense of the time and place and evoke it with authenticity. Viewers particularly touchy to the issue of underage sex beware, as the movie doesn't spare modern sensibilities with the fact that the concept of a girl being too young for sex (if she was deemed sexually attractive) wasn't even an issue for most men in the early 20th century! That said, there are thankfully no explicit scenes - you just know what is happening and painfully squirm in your chair while it does! One qualm I did have with the movie was some of the slightly sloppy costuming: some of the clothes worn here seemed a little earlier than 1917, more like a decade earlier. Furthermore, the way everyone reacted to the pictures Bellocq, the young photographer took of the prostitutes seemed very anachronistic, and made me lose respect for the movie (Bellocq is a figure that actually existed, though the specific story built around him in the movie is fictional). Photography was by 1917 no longer considered a sort of "magic", viewed with incredulous wonder (as the characters in the movie react to it). This would have been more historically exact for a story set in, say, 1850 or thereabouts! I found that aspect to be a ridiculous - its makers really should have known better.


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