Pretty Baby (1978)


The recent Hulu documentary Brooke Shields: Pretty Baby catalogues the countless ways that Hollywood men sought to sexualize Shields from an early age. The film takes its title from Pretty Baby, the Louise Malle film based on a true case of a 12-year-old, raised in a brothel, and forced into exploitation by her mother.

The film sympathizes with Shields’ character, Violet, but raised understandable alarm because it shows Shields undressed. The film was deemed so problematic even by 1978 standards that it sparked countless articles debating its decency, and the British Board of Film Classification carefully debated whether it should be legal.

One dubious scene: a kiss between Shields, who was 11 at the time, and 28-year-old co-star David Carradine — though Shields said recently on The Drew Barrymore Show that Carradine was “gracious” and “protective” of her on set.