(Lisa recently discovered that she only has about 8 hours of space left on her DVR! It turns out that she’s been recording movies from July and she just hasn’t gotten around to watching and reviewing them yet. So, once again, Lisa is cleaning out her DVR! She is going to try to watch and review 52 movies by the end of Thursday, December 8th! Will she make it? Keep checking the site to find out!)
On October 30th, I recorded The Baby off of TCM.
First released back in 1973, The Baby is a seriously strange little movie. It’s about a 21 year-old man named Baby (played by David Manzy). Why is he called Baby? Because he lives in a crib. And he wears a diaper that occasionally needs changing. And he sounds exactly like a baby. (Whenever he opens his mouth, the sound of an actual baby is dubbed in.) When he’s alone with his babysitter, he eagerly sucks on her breast, half-nursing and half-perving.
Baby is the only son of Mrs. Wadsworth (Ruth Roman, giving a chillingly evil performance). Mrs. Wadsworth was abandoned by her husband shortly after Baby was born and the film implies that she’s taken a lot of her hatred towards her ex out on her son. Despite not liking her son, Mrs. Wadsworth is determined to hold onto him. She gets a weekly welfare check from the state. The money is supposed to be used to take care of Baby but Mrs. Wadsworth uses it to take care of herself and her two daughters.
Who are her daughters? Alba Wadsworth (Suzanne Zenor) is an implied nymphomaniac who has a way with a cattle prod. Germaine Wadsworth (Marianna Hill) is an actress and model who, it’s suggested, has incestuous designs on her brother.
That’s right — they’re a messed up family! However, they do throw great parties, the type that are full of all the typical characters who you would expect to appear in a low-budget film from 1973. Hippies, hipsters, aspiring disco dancers, they all show up. Michael Pataki shows up as well! You my not know the name but if you’re a fan of 70s exploitation films like me, you’ll immediately recognize Michael Pataki.
In order to continue receiving money from the government, the Wadsworths have to impress their case worker. They’ve moved through several social workers and, for the most part, they’ve survived by being so strange that no one wants to spend too much time dealing with them. However, their case has just been assigned to Ann Gentry (Anjanette Comer) and she actually takes an interest in Baby and his life with the Wasdworths.
Ann says that she thinks Baby could benefit from going to a special school. The Wadsworths suggest that she mind her own business. Ann, however, has no intention of doing that. Ann refuses the give up on giving Baby a chance at a better life.
Sounds heart-warming, right?
At first, Ann seems like just another concerned do-gooder. But, at the film progresses, we start to suspect that Ann might have some secrets of her own. We’re told that she lost her husband in a car accident but the details are left intentionally vague. What we do know is that Ann lives in a huge house with her mother-in-law (Beatrice Manley Blau) and we find ourselves wondering why, if her husband is gone, are the two of them still living together.
We also fin ourselves wondering: Does Ann have Baby’s best interests in mind? For that matter, does anyone?
Being a 70s movie, it all ends with a violent home invasion that’s followed by a surprise twist. The twist caught me totally off-guard and forced me to reconsider everything that I had previously seen. It was shocking, it was borderline offensive, it was just a little bit ludicrous, and it was rather brilliant in its odd way.
The same can be said for The Baby as a whole. This is one weird movie and you’ll never see another like it. For that reason alone, The Baby is worth seeing at least once.