Pretty Baby (1978 film)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Pretty Baby is a 1978 historical fiction, dramatic film directed by Louis Malle. The screenplay was written by Polly Platt. The title is inspired by the Tony Jackson song, "Pretty Baby", which is used in the soundtrack.

Plot summary

In 1917, the last months of legal prostitution in Storyville, the red-light district of New Orleans, Louisiana. Hattie, a prostitute at the elegant home of Madame Nell, and her 12-year-old daughter Violet are the only ones awake when photographer Ernest J. Bellocq comes by with his camera. He takes photographs of Hattie and 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.

Film music

The soundtrack used many local New Orleans musicians playing in the jazz, ragtime, and blues style of the city in the early 20th century. A LP album of the soundtrack, also entitled Pretty Baby, was issued in 1978 on ABC Records.

Academy Award for Original Music Score in the "Adaptation Score" category.

Performers include the New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra, James Booker, Kid Thomas Valentine, Raymond Burke, Louis Nelson, Louis Barbarin.


  • In addition to the subject of child prostitution, some eye browes were raised because of scenes involving a 12-year-old Brooke Shields appearing nude. Because of this, the 109 minute film was edited down to 106 minutes in some releases. The unedited version of the film is now available on DVD, but there is controversy amongst its fans because of differences in film dimensions, leading some people to believe that the film was either incorrectly matted or the victim of false letterboxing.
  • Susan Sarandon provided a g-string for Brooke Shields to wear in most of her nude scenes so she would not have to be totally nude. This film received an R rating in the U.S., an 18 rating in the U.K., and an R18+ rating in Australia, for nudity and sexual content.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Pretty Baby (1978 film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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