Jailbait Sexploitation, British Style.
As most of you know, I have abit of an admiration for grindhouse goddess Linda Hayden, one of the most daring and brave women to ever step into the realm that would later be blanket termed as "Grindhouse", for she started earlier then anyone else, and the world didn't seem to make a big deal, I would assume because they just looked on in awe at her and all that she was. My love affair with Linda's work started in a film thats well known but never really admitted too being known in most circles, a daring sexploitation film by the name of "Baby Love". A film that marked the beginning of Linda's career, and the start to the end of the career of Diana Dors, the British answer to Jayne Mansfield. The film is always sighted, among those who admit to seeing the film, as one of the more hushed and forgotten gems of the almost 25 years of brilliant and brave film making in the UK, which lasted from the early 1960s, to the mid 1980s when Hammer Pictures started to fall out of style. Though for all those who love Baby Love for all that it is, there are still that many who hate and revile the film based on its plot and themes. Obviously not everyone is going to be alright with a 15 year old girl playing a 15 year old girl who uses her sexuality as Linda does in this film, there will naturally be those who see this and its themes as underage pornographic material, and wish it be banned forever from everything, and though I can see their points on the matter, I also know this film is just too brilliant to be left to dust and fall into the void of forgotten and never to be seen again films, far to many a good film from the same time period suffered that fate. I'll be damned if this one does too.
Baby Love is the story of a young girl named Luci Thompson, Luci is an emotionally and mentally unsettled young girl, she lives in northern england and is the daughter of a well known local prostitute and cancer victim, Liz Thompson, Liz is played by the great Diana Dors and is infact the last role she would ever play of any real note, she appears in the first two minutes of the film, as she kills herself in their home's bathtub, leaving a note for Luci that she just couldn't take all of what was wrong with her life anymore and decided to end it all. Luci comes home from school where she's teased, taunted and tourmented for the fact her mother is a well known and well traveled local prostitute, only to find her mother dead in the bathtub with the note next to her. Just more trauma for Luci, the poor girl just can't catch a break it seems. Luci ends up moving in with the only man her mother ever really loved Robert Quayle, who has gone on to make a well to do life for himself as a doctor, with a family of his own who share in his upscale and lavish life that he leads. A life that the inception of Luci causes to become in a state of flux and confusion, after all, chaotic life breeds chaotic life as they say.
As I'm sure many of you can guess, things don't go exactly smoothly, Luci seems to lose her mind given all the trauma she's been through as of late, and as she slowly drifts between trying to regain her sanity and what seems like the same traps her mother fell into, her mother even appearing in a hallucination at one point to Luci, it sends everyone around her spiraling into a state of chaos, one second she is seducing Robert, or attempting a lesbian relationship with his wife Amy, who seems rather willing, or seducing and then teasingly torchuring his son Nick by making him watch as a creepy old man starts to grope her in a movie theater, or she's completely doing the opposite and rejecting the advances of every one of them, its almost as if Luci is having an inner struggle with what she knows to be right and wrong, and is somehow developing a persona that acts alot like her mother had before her death. In a sense, an angel and a succubus fighting it out inside Luci's head, with each side winning control at various times. The movie though blatant sexploitation is truly the story of Luci's fight between sanity and madness created by all the trauma she's suffered, and in true to the time and style of film, it leaves you with an open to your own personal belief and idea of what just happened ending, leaving you to decide which side actually wins in the end.
Some might say that Baby Love is really just a forgettable borderline sexploitation film that blurs the line just slightly between art house and underage pornography, and as I said before, I do see the points they make on the matter, but no. Its blunt in your face mind manipulating cinema with just enough of a late 1960s acid trip to leave you feeling high out of your mind when the film is done. Thats common of the films of its age and nationality though, most of the late 1960s britfilms seeked to insight not only the wonder that only the cinema can bring, but to make you open your eyes to things you would normally dismiss as not your problem or or worth your attention, to make you discuss things and think what would happen if you were in that situation, as well as make you feel like you are coming down from the apex of some powerful European hippie drug cocktail, and Baby Love does that brilliantly. I guess on the idea of viewing comes down to personal beliefs, if you have no issue with a 15 year old girl, playing a 15 year old girl who jumps between scared and terrified timid girl, and insane bisexual seductress as her mind slowly twists till it reaches its breaking point, then by all means, if you haven't seen the film, please do, you will enjoy it, but if you're easily offended or put off by overt sexuality and blatant in your face harsh reality of mental instability, then this isn't for you.
Its just not the right kind of film for some, and thats honestly fine, alot of films in the golden age of grindhouse were that way, and thats part of the art and joy of the whole blanket genre really, so many varied stories being told in their own special way. I should also note, finding imagery of this film, even finding references to fill in my small gaps of memory on it, was insanely hard to do, so i'm sorry for just having afew of the lobby card promotional stills from the film as images, but its all I could find.