Baby Love (Alastair Reid / United Kingdom, 1968):

A dripping faucet grows into a raging gush over the opening credits, the bathtub is about to overflow but Diana Dors is busy applying lipstick on a fogged-up mirror and bringing a razor to her worn wrists; the water receives the corpse, her teenage daughter (Linda Hayden) stumbles upon it. Next seen, the working-class nymphet is introduced to the posh London home of Mumís old flame (Keith Barron), the ideal stage for the "wicked child" shenanigans that are to come. Snarling paterfamilias and spindly scion (Derek Lamden) are both subjected to the newcomerís wiles, though itís the doleful matriarch (Ann Lynn), intoxicated by maternal yearning and uncorked Sapphic ardor, who falls the hardest. "A little rough meat still finds its way into the British market." The state of the bourgeois family at the close of the Swinging Sixties, with the rapacious new generation rapping at the door. The nubile orphan smiles as the strangerís clammy hand creeps up her knee in the theater, but sheís no vamp -- sex is her currency and her instrument of communication, faddish psychoanalysis ("You like older men, like a father!") is laid out bare as ludicrously deficient in dealing with the wily survivor hopscotching from an openly debauched household to a discreetly debauched one. Zooming and shock-cutting promiscuously in nightclubs and bedrooms, Alastair Reid earns his directorial stripes with an unbroken, five-minute panning shot that follows Hayden and Lamden from the sun-dappled riverís edge into the darkening forest with a gang of louts, a bravura bit of fear and desire recalled by Fassbinder in Berlin Alexanderplatz (Mieze and Reinhold in the woods). Vacant fields surrounding an industrial plant clinch the alliance to Teorema, the next year finds the racy tale tastefully de-clawed and de-fanged as The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. With Dick Emery, Patience Collier, and Sheila Steafel.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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