Director: Alastair Reid
Screenplay: Alastair Reid, Guido Coen & Michael Klinger
Starring: Ann Lynn, Linda Hayden, Keith Barron, Dick Emery
Running Time: 91 mins
BBFC Classification: 18
Based on the novel of the same name by Tina Chad Christian, Baby Love was a somewhat controversial feature in its day and still retains the power to surprise, even today.
Luci’s mum, played mostly in flashbacks by Dianna Dors, commits suicide in the bath leaving her impressionable young teenage daughter (15 years of age) to cope on her own on a rough council estate in the North of England. On hearing the sad news Dr Robert Quale (Keith Barron), who used to be the mother’s lover, goes to visit her and, feeling sorry for the lass, brings her back to London, to stay with him and his pleasant, if rather unhappy, middleclass family.
At first Luci (Linda Hayden) is in awe of her surroundings and is clearly a little frightened by her new status of orphan, but as the days go by she begins to seduce everyone around her with her newly discovered womanly ways. Coming from an emotionally deprived background, where her alcoholic mother ignored her in order to attend to her ‘current man of the week’, Luci becomes resentful towards the middle class society that she feels is responsible for her current circumstances and pushes back, hard. Of particular interest to her is the good doctor himself, who she partly blames for the death of her mother as a series of ‘what-if’ scenarios spring to her young mind.
It’s not long before she has confused the hell out of the teenage son, Nick, who quickly falls for her curvaceous charms, taken the father on a guilt trip over why he left her now deceased mother, and has turned the mother into a somewhat bemused bisexual! Not surprisingly the good doctor is soon having second thoughts about becoming her new guardian…
Baby Love is a peculiar sort of film where not a lot happens, but it still holds the attention. This is mostly due to Hayden’s show-stopping central performance as a teenage girl on the cusp of womanhood, who one minute can be quite lovely, both in looks and in nature, and then, in the blink of an eye, can turn quite vindictive and spiteful – so pretty much like any teenager then! With a well-timed coquettish look or an ill-timed comment Luci quickly subverts whoever she is around and causes plenty of emotional upheaval for the family. However, she’s not all bad, because at the end of the day she kind of brings the family closer together again, after first shinning a light on all their own lost hopes and soured dreams, making then stronger for it.
Hayden is ably supported by a gallant group of actors including Keith Barron, excellent here as the very repressed doctor who has stopped trying to understand his own family’s feelings years ago. Also of note has to be friend of the family, Henry, played by British comic actor Dick Emery, who later rose to fame with a series of smutty comedy TV shows in the 70s. Here he’s playing a lecherous older neighbour who enjoys female company a bit too much and a little bit too publically, as far as his wife’s concerned anyway. In fact there are quite a lot of inappropriate moments in Baby Love and you can’t help but feel that a film like this would never get made nowadays, in our more, quite rightly, sensitive times.
Baby Love also seems to have something to say about how the older generation will always be jealous of youth, and we can plainly see this envy in the eyes of the more mature generation gazing in wonder at the antics of their progeny. Hence if you enjoy films that are essentially about sexual politics across the generations then Baby Love is probably for you.
I have to also say that the film is nicely shot and it was interesting to see London, circa April 1968, with all the fashions and cars of that age out on parade in all their gleaming newness.
Baby Love has been released on DVD and is being distributed by Network Distributing who are, to their credit, currently releasing lots of these rarer film titles.
The extras on the review disc were 38 images in a gallery, including three posters, although most are just shots from the film. There are some glamour shots included of the two main female stars.