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Pretty Baby
Pretty Baby
Actors: Brooke Shields, Keith Carradine, Susan Sarandon, Frances Faye, Antonio Fargas
Director: Louis Malle
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
R     2003     1hr 50min

A photographer becomes obsessed with a child prostitute in turn-of-the-century New Orleans. Genre: Feature Film-Drama Rating: R Release Date: 18-NOV-2003 Media Type: DVD


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Movie Details

Actors: Brooke Shields, Keith Carradine, Susan Sarandon, Frances Faye, Antonio Fargas
Director: Louis Malle
Creators: Sven Nykvist, Louis Malle, Suzanne Fenn, Polly Platt
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Family Life
Studio: Paramount
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 11/18/2003
Original Release Date: 04/05/1978
Theatrical Release Date: 04/05/1978
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 50min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 24
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
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Movie Reviews

Censorship warning
(2 out of 5 stars)

"If they gave Academy Awards for small moments, this film would deserve one for the scene in which Violet is being auctioned off, and the camera closes in on the eyes of the Black piano player, full of silent moral judgment. The print is not so lovely, with more glitches and defects than I've seen in years. Even worse, Paramount has chosen to censor the film, by reframing the scene where Violet is tossed out of Belloc's apartment. It's one thing to be locked out of your house, and quite another to be locked out naked. The impact (and irony and pathos) of the scene is lost along with the nudity. What's ridiculous, though, is that uncensored full-frame prints have been showing on DBS/cable for years. Why censor it now? Last one out of the barn lock the door? So we have a choice between uncensored pan & scan or cropped widescreen. After years of overpriced, underfeatured discs (how many times have they released 'better' versions of Star Trek films?), it looks like Paramount has found yet another way to reveal its failure to understand DVDs. A pity this film wasn't released by MGM."
Disturbing & Provocative
Bobby | 04/11/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The cinematography, acting, & artwork were second to none.Keith Carradine, Susan Sarandon, & Brooke Shields did an excellentjob portraying the other side of society that most of us do not deal with or even want to deal with. The forced sexualization of a 12 year old girl is, perhaps, a strong subject to tackle in a film. Not only is this girl sexually active, but, she is also a prostitute. Life is full of hardships for most people; however, it can be harder on a select few than most. That is what happens to Violet (Brooke), she is forced to interact on an adult level in an adult world never quite having a childhood. This movie left me feeling sad & overwhelmed. I wanted to change Violet's life for her, make it happy...somewhat normal. If you are looking for a movie that has a happy ending, look elsewhere. If you want an accurate portrayel on the hardships of growing up a young, beautiful girl in a prostitutes world, this is the movie for you. The message is hard & is not for those that are easily offended. I can see where this would be more popular in Europe than here given the subject matter. To sum it up: Brooke is (as usual) beautiful & stunning. The nudity did not bother me as much as the subject matter did, but, only to the extent that you wish her character would have the chance to enjoy the innocence that is so beautiful in children. I do recommend this to those that can see past the images displayed on the screen & can engrosse themselves in the story. NOTE: This movie is not for everyone, hence my 4 star rating."
Wonderful and heartbreaking film!
FloozyFlapper1926 | Somewhere in the 20's | 11/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"For years, I had heard all the controversy about this film and since I'm interested in New Orleans history, I decided to pick this up and see what all the fuss was about. I was surprised to find it different than how others had described it to me. Yes, the nudity was over the top but the story itself was tragic and well done. Violet is a child living in an adult world who doesn't realize prostitution is wrong and follows in her own mother's footsteps. When Bellocq comes to the Storyville district to photograph the prostitutes, he becomes enchanted with Violet's beauty and falls in love with her. I never felt this movie glorified child prostitution. It told the story of the way things were back then. Life now is much different than it was in the early party of the last century and I think this film shows the ugliness of the brothels of that era. Poor Violet having her virginity auctioned and really not knowing any better. When the creepy old guy pays the money, it made me feel sick to my stomach. I guess that was the point of the movie. It made me feel so many things on so many different levels.All in all, it was a movie that made me think. It was also beautifully shot and very realistic to the time it portrayed. The costumes, the music and the setting were breathtaking. I definitely thought about it after the film was over.A great film but one that is definitely not for everyone."
Only Louis Malle could have made this film
Dennis Littrell | SoCal | 01/12/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Brooke Shields is as gorgeous as a little girl can be. Her beauty really rivets you to the screen. Louis Malle keeps the camera on her as often and for as long as possible, reminding me that some years ago Brooke Shields was the most photographed model in the world. Susan Sarandon gets considerably upstaged. However as far as acting goes, Brooke ranged from amateurish to competent to flashes of delight. She was good, so good I would say in comparing her to later roles, that she has regressed. But perhaps it was Louis Malle's direction that made her seem so natural.Sarandon was flawless and seamless as usual (and never looked better). The long takes on the faces of the characters was noticeable but short of annoying. The sets were almost magical. They seemed so natural without all the usual, "Look folks, this is 1917!" kind of feeling you usually get with period piece photography. The milieu of the whore house in New Orleans in which little Violet wanders about in every room and every nook and at any time, day or night, seems natural and unforced. It's a huge child's playground in effect for the twelve-year-old who yearns to out-do mommie in being desirable to the johns.The story line is strangely reserved. You keep expecting some real horror to explode in your face, and then you expect a heart sickening tragedy, Violet to be mutilated by one of her johns or perhaps exploited by some sick man, but the worst she gets is deflowered and slapped. The madame of the house (played brilliantly by an actress whose name I don't know) has her whipped for something, but she skips away from that saying it didn't hurt and runs off to the photographer she likes, played perhaps too Victorianly by Keith Carradine. I got the feeling he couldn't make up his mind whether he was Toulouse Lautrec, Vincent Van Gogh or Professor Henry Higgins and decided to go with all three. I expected to see him grovel a little for Brooke, or debase himself à la Philip in Of Human Bondage, but Malle spares us that.The defining sequence in the movie, and the part that reveals the real tragedy of the little girl is when she goes to the photographer's house and they begin living together and he leaves her a note that she can't read (because she is illiterate) and we see her standing behind his iron fence watching the sailors walk by (perhaps the sailors are in her future). When he comes home and we see that her child's view of the world is so different than his, we know their relationship is doomed. But we also know that she has lost her childhood and will never have a normal adolescence. That is her tragedy.The cinematography is beautiful without calling undue attention to itself. The whore house seems real enough as a sort of French salon cum New Orleans brothel, cum Dodge City saloon. We see Brooke as close to naked as perhaps we would want. The point of the photography is to show her physical beauty, but in a naturalistic, almost nonsexual way, to show the awkwardness of the child who is about to become a woman. She never looks worse than when she's painted up and thick with lipstick. We get the point. In the scene where she is deflowered we are "threatened" with horror (she screams, the john sneaks out and they discover her motionless on the bed). But she's only joking and they all get choked up at this "rite of passage." Malle makes it like a first kiss, which for her (his point) it is.He gets to tell it like it is sometimes with young girls and men but spares us a lot of the shock by making it clear that Brooke Shields as Violet the 12-year-old prostitute is an exception to the general rule. Yet nothing is hid from us. The slavery of the prostitute's life and bondage to her trade is made clear. The tragedy of growing up in a whore house is not glossed over; it's just that the tragedy is sugar coated like our memories of childhood, and indeed the little girl has a lot of fun in the old whore house and we know that some of her memories will be fond ones.Finally, Violet's mother comes back for her. She has made a successful marriage with her rich respectable husband. Violet goes to her and although her photographer husband objects, he knows it's inevitable: he must lose her. She asks "Can't you come too?" We, along with Keith Carradine, get to fathom that for a long moment or two before he lets her go. The great thing about this scene is that the arrival of the mother and her rich husband just destroys their "marriage." Kaboom. We immediately see that the child's higher loyalty and greater love is to and for the mother and not her husband and her marriage, a relationship she does not understand.It's a strange tale, bravely told with a touch of gentle genius. I'm glad I didn't have to see all the warts, but I know they were there behind the gloss and Malle left them out on purpose: and the nearly idyllic world of the child prostitute is nothing like his fairy tale, but I thank him for it anyway; after all, these things have to be told in the form of fairy tales or myths otherwise we can't accept them."