Seduction in Suburbia – Rediscovering ‘Baby Love’ (UK 1968 – 96 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - July 27, 2015
Seduction in Suburbia – Rediscovering ‘Baby Love’ (UK 1968 – 96 mins)

A controversial Lolita-esque tale about a scheming schoolgirl who tantalizes all those around her, ‘Baby Love’ is a sometimes grimy yet mostly engrossing melodrama, and features a terrific debut performance from future British sex symbol Linda Hayden.

After her mother’s suicide, 15 Year old schoolgirl Luci Thompson (Linda Hayden) moves into the affluent family home of her mother’s one-time lover; Robert Quayle (Keith Barron). Initially suffering vivid dreams and nightmares, it’s not long before the playful Luci is seducing both Robert (who may be her biological father) and his son Nick (Derek Lamden), before moving onto the mother; Amy (Ann Lynn). Holding Robert responsible for her mother’s death because he abandoned her, Luci seems to be hell-bent on destroying this once ordered household.

Making her impressive debut, Linda Hayden proved a real find here as the baby-faced yet knowing Luci, and showed genuine talent, often making her character more grown up than the adults around her. Linda followed ‘Baby Love’ with a terrific turn as a cult leader in the excellent horror flick ‘Blood on Satan’s Claw’ (’71). Sadly though, Hayden’s natural acting ability would never be fully utilized, and she would end up in mainly sexpot roles in low-brow British comedies such as ‘Confessions of a Window Cleaner’ (’74), and the once-banned ‘video-nasty’ ‘Exposé’ (’76). As Luci’s guardians, Keith Barron and Ann Lynn were mainstays on the British screen, while popular comedian Dick Emery had a rare film role as a lecherous family friend. 37 year old Diana Dors had a memorable cameo as Luci’s mother, and by now had left her bombshell days behind her, successfully moving into character parts with minor roles in the cult drama ‘Deep End’ (’70) and the Raquel Welch western ‘Hannie Caulder’ (’71).

This was director Alastair Reid’s movie debut and he would later re-team with Hayden for the uneven psychodrama ‘Something to Hide’ (’72), where Linda played a rather unpleasant pregnant hitchhiker terrorizing a disturbed Peter Finch. Reid also co-wrote the ‘Baby Love’ screenplay, adapting it from Tina Chad Christian’s sensational novel.

There are numerous scandalous moments in the film including one in a cinema where Luci lets a sweaty-looking stranger feel her up while Nick can do nothing but look on in disgust. The scene where Robert’s bored wife Amy crawls into bed with Luci was quite startling, yet at the same time rather tender, bringing these two lonely souls together for a brief moment.

Although it touches on such themes as rape and lesbianism, ‘Baby Love’ is thankfully not as sordid as it could have been. It’s still fairly shocking though, considering how old Luci is, but it’s a very good drama about a manipulative and troubled teen exploiting the weaknesses of the adult world, and a fitting tail end to the Swinging Sixties. It’s Linda Hayden’s movie all the way though, and a reminder of how good an actress she was when she first started out.

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