Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cat People (4) and Pretty Baby

Once again, playing catch-up with my blogging duties...

So, on August 26th--or thereabouts, because that was a Thursday, and I have doubts about me watching two movies on a school night, although I really don't know if school started before or after Labor Day back then, so maybe it is the right date--I watched two movies that feature naked girls in New Orleans.

This had to have been on VHS. And rentals. The first was, of course, Cat People, which I never actually bought on VHS, but I think I did illegally copy a VHS tape of it, so I could watch it another 25 times (or thereabouts) in the coming years.

The other film was Pretty Baby, which I had also seen a few times before.

I love Pretty Baby, but I understand it's...problematic. It's definitely not something that could be made today--at least not without very loud protest and boycott--and perhaps that's a good thing.

But it is a good movie, and that's kind of what makes it so problematic. If it were just an exploitation piece about child prostitution, that would be one thing. But it's a serious movie, directed by Louis Malle, and starring some pretty impressive actors, (Susan Sarandon and Keith Carradine, among others), and somehow that makes it even more problematic.

Of course it also stars a very young Brooke Shields, and she does play a child prostitute whose virginity is auctioned off, and who falls in love with a much older and slightly creepy man. Which...umm...

The movie itself is not really lascivious as far as scenes with Shields are concerned, although she does appear naked, though not full-frontally so, and she was underage at the time of filming...

But I think the real controversy is not so much with the movie, but with an unfortunate tie-in associated with Playboy magazine. They released a photo book entitled Sugar and Spice that included naked photos of the young Brooke Shields in scenes inspired by the movie. I'm not going to link to it, but a simple Google search will bring them up if you must see them. (The photos really do make me feel VERY uncomfortable.)

So. Yeah. I do love the movie, because I love New Orleans, and the era it's set in, and the music, and most of the acting, (Frances Faye as the aging madam is, frankly, awful, but she's so bad it's almost comedic).

But I'm also kind of glad nothing like it could get made today.



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