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The Little Girl Who Lives down the Lane Movie Review

jodie smith alexis martin

Jodie Foster could have been a film noir heroine of the ‘40s and ‘50s, but she was born too late, my darlings! Instead, we get to see her in a great movie like The Little Girl Who Lives down the Lane, which would never have been made prior to 1976. Jodie plays a brilliant little girl who lives alone with her equally brilliant “father” and is persistently harassed by the mean landlady Mrs. Hallet (Alexis Smith) and her creepy son (Martin Sheen). Mrs. Hallet doesn't like little girls, and her son likes them too much. Yes, Jodie knows exactly what he has in mind, but she has an idea or two up her sleeve, too. We never forget how young (13) Jodie is, but we never cease to wonder how she's become way too wise way too young. Her very isolation and lack of emotional protection command our sympathy, even when we witness the lengths to which she will go to keep outsiders at arm's length. She opens herself up to one person, a frail, sweet magician with a limp (the excellent Scott Jacoby) and the contrast between her childlike delight with him and her frosty regality with everyone else is a key element of her meticulously crafted character. Alexis Smith actually had DONE film noir at Warner Bros. in the ‘40s, but usually in the wrong roles, as idealized ingenues. In the meaty part of evil Mrs. Hallet, Smith reveals what an underappreciated actress she had been throughout her career. And Martin Sheen as the lethal, loco son? His sequences with Jodie are saturated with menace and tension. Despite the late release date, The Little Girl Who Lives down the Lane is vintage AIP. It'll wrap you in its own unique spell, wake you up in the middle of the night and dare you not to scream.

1976 (PG) 90m/C CA FR Jodie Foster, Martin Sheen, Alexis Smith, Scott Jacoby, Mort Shuman, Dorothy Davis, Hubert Noel, Jacques Famery, Mary Morter, Judie Wildman; D: Nicolas Gessner; W: Laird Koenig, Richard Lochte; C: Rene Verzier; M: Christian Gaubert. VHS, LV

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