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Pretty Baby

193 customer reviews

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(Nov 18, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

1917, the last months of legal prostitution in Storyville - New Orleans' red-light district. Hattie, a prostitute at the elegant home of Madame Nell, and her 12-year-old daughter Violet are the only ones awake with photographer Ernest J. Bellocq comes by with his camera. He takes pictures of Hattie and he fascinates Violet. Over the next few months, Nell arranges for the auction of Violet's virginity, Hattie marries and goes to St. Louis leaving Violet behind, and Violet determines to marry Bellocq. Is this idyllic or is she just a girl wearing rouge, soon to return to childhood?

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Brooke Shields, Keith Carradine, Susan Sarandon, Frances Faye, Antonio Fargas
  • Directors: Louis Malle
  • Writers: Louis Malle, Polly Platt
  • Producers: Louis Malle, Polly Platt
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: November 18, 2003
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (193 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000AUHQ6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,230 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Pretty Baby" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

97 of 105 people found the following review helpful By FloozyFlapper1926 on November 25, 2003
Format: DVD
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.
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174 of 194 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 30, 2003
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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.
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94 of 105 people found the following review helpful By Bobby on April 11, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
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.
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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 12, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
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.
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