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Is it just fucking crazy for me to pick an obscure early 70's less-than- horror flick about a retarded grown man who is kept in a baby crib THE GREATEST MOTION PICTURE EVER MADE? Well go ahead, butter my ass and call me a loon, because here I am proclaiming THE BABY, just that, THE GREATEST MOTION PICTURE EVER MADE! * Okay there's an asterisk, sure there are probably better movies floating around out there, Hitchcock made a couple, sure Welles, Wilder, Kazan, Lewis, hell even Milligan. So maybe it isn't the highest quality, the most interesting, the best story, but that does not change my previous declaration. THE BABY IS THE GREATEST MOTION PICTURE EVER MADE!

Here's just a little of why I feel no shame saying that, first off I demand you search out this gem quickly, it is on DVD, soon to be out of print, I'm sure and you can get uncut VHS copies from both Video Screams and Witching Hour Video. So that being said, get off your kiester and get it. THE BABY, set in anytown, USA, circa early 70s, involves a fresh faced social worker, Ann Gentry, who has just taken a special interest in a case that involves anything but the typical Child Welfare issue. You see the Wadsworth family, mother and daughters, Germaine and Alba, all share there humble abode with the girl's "little" brother, known affectionately only as Baby. Ann goes to her initial visit at the Wadsworth with all the naiveté' of Jim J. Bullock at the Mustang Ranch. Mother Wadsworth explains that the man of the family has tucked tail and ran soon after Baby was born because "he couldn't handle it." The women make ends meet by the check that the state sends for Baby and Alba's tennis lessons, oh yeah, and Germaine does the "occasional TV commercial." But it's just all right by them to squeak by, Mrs. Wadsworth assures Ann, because Baby is special. Ann insists on getting a glimpse of Baby before leaving even though he is napping. Mrs. Wadsworth begrudgingly agrees…right here let me say, the first taste of Baby that we receive as viewers of this beaut is well, FUCKING INCREDIBLE, the colors of the film print look slightly above the typical made-for-TV shit of 1973 but contain all of the CrayolaTM palette we've come to expect from the period. As the camera gives us Baby, in all his glory, snuggled into his crib, to say the least, it is jaw dropping. Ann reacts almost as if this is some sort of normal sight and agrees to come back and visit when Baby is up and around. The Wadsworths and smile nod and hurry Ann the Hell out of their house. Wow, where is this thing going to go?

Infantilism, if you've been around the Internet, you might have happened across this little bit of perversion. Grown-ups who like to wear diapers, like to be treated like babies, i.e. have their britches changed, be fed from a bottle or even breast fed and of course disciplined. I've aid it a gazillion times, there' nothing you can't find on the internet, but we are talking the early 1970s here, what led the makers down the path of this bizarre notion for a film. Abe Polsky wrote and produced this little taste of crusty subject matter, Polsky also co-penned the very competently written THE GAY DECEIVERS along with Gil Lasky, who wrote the BOF fave THE NIGHT GOD SCREAMED, Polsky also wrote some early episodes of KUNG FU as well as helped out on the Dern and Nicholson biker epic THE REBEL ROUSERS. But there is nothing that would lead you to believe he was a top-notch sleaze merchant up until THE BABY anyway. The director Mr. Ted Post, on the other hand was a TV stalwart from the mid 50s forward, hitting his pinnacle in 1970 with BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES, the follow-up to the now classic monkey epic. Post had to deal with making a film that didn't have the main character from the first, right-wing closeted homo and lover of ALL things that shoot, Mr. Heston, Although I like BENEATH in some ways better than the first, the public didn't, but Post found solace back on the Boob Tube and even redeemed himself wholeheartedly by directed MAGNUM FORCE, the follow-up to DIRTY HARRY, which was also released in 1973, the same year as THE BABY. But once again Post doesn't strike me as an all out exploitationer. Was THE BABY possibly one of those "Ripped from Today's Headlines" ideas? Had the public heard of such a case? Was social welfare a hot button issue? I'm sure the latter is true, it always has been but what was the motivation behind this overgrown baby script? I'd love to know.

When Ann returns to the Welfare office she discusses the Wadsworth case with her boss, who seems less than interested, other girls have had the case in the past, no one really complained or found anything wrong with the fact that the family did nothing to try and help Baby. The social workers had all been fine with the treatment Baby was receiving from the mother and his sisters. All but one, but as soon as this one social worker started to pay attention to what was going on, she up and disappeared. "People fall of the edge of the Earth all the time!" Ann's boss tells her. "Just leave it alone, the cops looked into it and they were satisfied." But of course, our Ann is not about to give up on Baby, she thinks the family are just holding Baby back and she wants to get a little closer and see what Baby really knows.

Anjanette Comer handles the character of Ann rather effectively. Ms. Comer seemed to run in the made for TV circles herself. Early 70s TV and especially TV movies and 9 o'clock dramas was a nice little fraternity. The same names all pop up as far as writers, directors and actors. For instance, Polsky the writer/producer also wrote 1972's BRUTE CORPS, directed by Jerry Jameson. Jameson also directed TERROR ON THE 4OTH FLOOR, which starred Comer. Jameson is worthy of a bit of talk her on the site and I promise that is coming, he was responsible for so many made for TV greats, THE DEADLY SNIPER, THE SECRET NIGHT CALLER and THE INVASION OF JOHNSON COUNTY just to name of few, later he can be held responsible for Dr. Quinn, Murder, she wrote and Jake and the Fatman episodes as well, a Saint he ain't! My point Post, Jameson, Polsky and Comer were all part of this band of film folk putting in the hours on studio product and they all knew each other. Comer is good, Ruth Roman, she is great!

Roman plays Mrs. Wadsworth, play is not the appropriate word, she don't play, she IS Mrs. Wadsworth. Roman begin her career at the age of 20, getting mostly uncredited bit parts in films, a drop dead gorgeous black haired raven, she could best be described somewhere between Jane Russell and Sophia Loren in her young days. In 1951 she caught the eye of Mr. Hitchcock and got a small but decent role in the classic STRANGERS ON A TRAIN. Amazingly she didn't garner as much attention as she should have and throughout the 50s and 60s went on to episodic TV work doing stints on everything from The Untouchables, to Route 66 to The Outer Limits. Roman really does shine as the aging, self-reliant harlot type in THE BABY. This is the kind of woman my mom invited over in the 70s to pick her up before a night of hard drinking. A foul-mouthed, dye haired, man-eater who was always up for a goodtime and always smelled like cheap lipstick and cheaper beer. I'm talking about my mom, my mom's friends and Mrs. Wadsworth. Roman's performance is just as important in THE BABY as the strange story and she pulls it off. Without giving too much way, in the film's most shocking sequence involving Baby and his babysitter, Mrs. Wadsworth and girls return home to find the babysitter a little mothering. Mrs. Wadsworth beats the shit out of the girl, with a belt, with her hands and with her high heels. Nasty, dirty and dark stuff, and as a final caveat, she warns the girl, "Tell anyone what happened to you and I'll report you to the authorities!" Pure gold.

Germaine and Alba are also strangely good. Germaine looks like a possible exotic beauty, no doubt because she is. Marianna Hill, played a big haired beauty in underground classics MEDIUM COOL and THUMB TRIPPING, the latter I'm surprised doesn't get more discussion. Hill also hit is big as Deanna Corleone in THE GODFATHER PART II. All that is well and good, but I know her best from that John Saxon and Jerry Gross fave BLOOD BEACH. Hill plays Germaine as a kind of conniving "mama's girl." A stand out scene involves her complimenting Ann's clothing then glaring at her before inviting her to go hiking. There is more than a subtle lesbian vibe to the scene. Ann declines; Germaine mumbles something about "danger." But just a few scenes later we see Germaine shed her nightie and share the crib with Baby. Eech! I think that's incest, and I ought to know I'm from Kentucky! You'll quickly get away from Germaine once you see here in the Baby's birthday party scene though, she teases her hair to LION KING proportions and it absolutely will put wrinkles in your peepee to see this obvious reality of early 70s hair-dos, or in this case hair-don'ts.

As for Alba, she is just as cute as the tennis skirt wearing younger sister. She is the bratty blond who never knows when to shut up and is always pissing mama off and putting her foot in her mouth. Susanne Zenor handles the duties of Alba. Zenor for fans of Days of Our lives did time as Margo for a few years. Alba has a real dark side, shown to us when she punishes Baby with a cattle prod and when she teases her goofy beau, Michael Pataki, (DRACULA'S DOG and that one Malachi from the Happy Days Demolition Derby episode where Pinky gets all fucked up by the Malachi Crunch!) with a lighter coaxing him to hold his finger in a flame for a minute before sampling her bedroom volleying skills. Post's direction of Alba during the cattle prod scene must have been a bit movie magic, she comes off as a teeny bopping sadist shot in that wacky, low-angle, fisheye shit I just love.

As the film progresses the plot thicken as we sense Ann becoming more obsessed with Baby and we learn she herself has a few demons in the closet. We begin to not trust anyone and Post does a very able job of building to a nice batch of twists for the denouement'. THE BABY is more a psychological thriller than out and out horror film. The subject matter lends more than a few moments of shock value. Baby, is brought to life by actor David Manzy. Quite a daring role. His voice is overdubbed with actual gurgles, whimpers, gaagaas and screams from an actual baby. His mannerisms, expressions and awkward movements are fairly convincing. The fact he wears PampersTM with a size 32 waist and has a slight 5 o'clock shadow might leave your mouth agape though. Manzy's career ground to a halt after THE BABY, I cannot track down a single project he was credited under that name with. I'll warn you upon seeing Manzy, if you're like me you spend the rest of the film hoping they never show a diaper changing scene, I just know Baby could make big poopoo, not to mention, one of those THREE MEN AND A BABY piss in the face scenes! It could have turned ugly fast, you got to wonder if any of that stuff might have been shot.

I refuse to give away much of this story because the best part of viewing THE BABY is not knowing what to expect, critics will say it is a bit to TV movie like for their tastes and that is alright, if you find yourself that jaded. But believe me when I tell you, there hasn't been a since to cover the ground this one has and there won't be another. The comparisons to SPIDER BABY stop at the ground man in a diaper stuff. Don't get me wrong I think SPIDER BABY is a brilliant picture on multiple levels but THE BABY still overshadows it on the weirdometer. If for no other reason than it reminds you of a maudlin TV drama. That adds to the surrealistic experience you get while watching THE BABY. It is chock full of inane dialogue as well as its melodramatic tone. A line forever burnt in my brain while watching it falls from Mrs. Wadsworth mouth as Ann tries to rescue Baby, when she and the girls jump in their Rambler to pursue they realize Ann has knifed a radial. Roman bellows" She thinks of everything!" Yes she does, Mrs. Wadsworth, yes she does…. it is just one of THOSE moments.

THE BABY asks many questions about motherhood, empty nest syndrome, man-hating and the lengths people will go to just to hold on to someone because of a twisted love and feelings of fear and guilt. I don't know if it answers any of them though.

THE BABY also made me ask a few as I watched it. I almost instantly begged, "Is this for fucking real?" and "Where they get those big PampersTM?" I think I uttered something about "birth weight" and "stretch marks" as well. Oh yeah, "puberty" and "morning hard-ons" might have crossed my mind. "Do retards really jerk-off a lot?" and "Why do they hug so much?" I think I asked those questions too. I remember wondering, "Did the drummer from Limp Bizkit have a similar childhood before those white black guys and the one fruity guy in the funny clothes let him drum in the band." And Ozzy, would "Ozzy eventually end up in a crib, pissing on himself and sucking a bottle of Maalox and Hennessey, I mean, he's retarded right?" All legitimate questions, both from THE BABY and from any normal viewer.

As I said these are just a few reasons why I am willing to hang my ass out on a limb by stating THE BABY IS THE GREATEST MOTION PICTURE EVER MADE. I can only hope to drive you to the same conclusion by motivating you to get yourself a copy. You probably won't agree with my deduction, braves as it may be. Nonetheless I can almost guarantee THE BABY will muster some sort of emotional response from you, which is all you can ask of a film. I doubt you'll find yourself riding the fence as to whether you love or loathe it.

Send me some mail if you want to discuss my proclamation, keep in mind my asterisk though, which means I can change my mind at any given time as to THE GREATEST MOTION PICTURE EVER MADE. But right now this moment it's THE BABY. Thank you Mr. Post. OSCAR should have visited you, and you should have powdered its ass and burped it before drowning it in the tub.

Just watch the fucking movie.

Mail Tread or
Discuss this baby.

Where are you Davie, where?

Dammit! That Girl Thinks of everything!

Baby and his ball, that boy sure is sweet!

Baby bumped his noggin, yes he did, yes, he.... er, sorry again.

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Diaper up its gonna be a long ride!

Lock and Load
This is Ann, a social worker with a heart of gold...or is she?

Ruth Roman, Mrs. Wadsworth, now that is a woman!

Germaine, the lovely Germaine....prrrr but she likes gals too...

Alba is a sporty little number, but she can be one cruel little bitch as well.

Baby gets his baby on, Goo fucking goo.

Baby got his poo on, Poo fucking poo!

And look at the size of that new PamperTM!

Baby goes for the Lifelike Nipple of his babysitter!

Mama Wadsworth walks in at a bad time!

Germaine tries to hold her back!

But Mama is one feisty bitch!

The babysitter leaves a little battered.


Wook at da wittle Baby, ain't he so cute, yes he is, he's cute yes, yes he....er, sorry.


Germaine asks Ann to go "hiking" a euphamism for licking her pussy!

Allba can sure use that cattle prod, prob Alba, Prod!


Germaine takes it off to get in Baby's crib with him.....

But later teases her hair to immense proportions and I loose my woddie.

Baby has blue balls. No doubt.

SSSSSHHHHHHHH, he's sleeping, yes he is, he's sleepy, yes he is, he's........ aw, fuck off!
Brains On Film 2003