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Why ‘The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane’ Is Worth Your Time

While there are many murderous children in cinema, Jodie Foster’s Rynn Jacobs in 1976’s The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane is largely overlooked. It was logical, considering her very productive year, which included notable performances in Bugsy Malone, Freaky Friday, Echoes of a Summer, and, of course, Taxi Driver, the behemoth of child star breakthroughs.

In fact, Rynn, more than any other character, escapes from the shadow of child prostitute Iris Steensma (for which Foster received her first Academy Award nomination) and becomes as much a casualty as a very complicated counterpart, neither less interesting nor less worth seeking out.

While the decades previous had seen the likes of Mervyn Leroy’s phenomenally successful The Bad Seed, The Innocents, and even Mario Bava’s Kill, Baby… Kill!, the 1970s saw a flood of wicked kids on screen. The unmistakable concern with corrupted and, moreover, ugly innocents seemed to announce certain other pervasive anxieties about the future of the family as we understood it from The Exorcist to The Omen.

Why 'The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane' Is Worth Your Time

The Vietnam War had already begun to haunt and shape a generation, and the unexpected, extensive coverage of serial murders shattered the middle-class home’s imagined safety.

Nicholas Gessner’s The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane fits right in with this new wave of films that are focused with all kinds of frightening threats to the nuclear family, none more treacherous than their own children, who defiantly oppose authority. Even now, after achieving cult status, the film’s genre – despite the obvious giallo influence – is difficult to define: part horror, part psychological thriller, part exploitation, and part teen romance.

ALSO READ: Asked About The Controversial Will Smith Slap, Mel Gibson Had The Perfect Response 

The film follows Rynn, a 13-year-old orphan living alone in a small Maine village, who is based on the 1974 novel by Laird Koenig, who also authored the script. The cop Ron Miglioriti (Mort Shuman), with whom Rynn later becomes friendly; her overbearing landlady Mrs Hallet (Alexis Smith); and, most troubling of all, Hallet’s son Frank (Martin Sheen), a known pedophile who has managed to elude jail thanks to his powerful mother and hounds Rynn with his relentless attentions.

Why 'The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane' Is Worth Your Time

They’re all naturally inquisitive about her father’s whereabouts, who is usually holed up in his study or sleeping upstairs. Hers is a thinly veiled ploy given with such persuasion that she frequently manages to persuade them, despite their better judgment. But their constant presence threatens her peace; no matter how stupid or naive, they are always endangering her safety.

ALSO READ: Amid LIV Golf Controversy, Phil Mickelson Withdraws From The PGA Championship

Here’s the Youtube Video Trailer by Biggest Trailer DataBase

In the shape of Miglioriti’s adorable teenage nephew Mario (Scott Jacoby), an aspiring magician whose earnestness melts the generally distant, icy Rynn, she finally meets a peer. Despite the fact that she is alone, she never appears lonely until Mario arrives. However, her delicate predicament will prove their undoing.

Why 'The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane' Is Worth Your Time

The picture debuted to mixed reviews and some – as it turns out, revelatory – controversy. During filming, Foster had a spat with a producer over the late inclusion of a nude scene, which was subsequently performed by her then-21-year-old sister. It’s a startling moment in a film where her one obvious vulnerability, her astonishing youth, is responsible for much of the suspense and even tragedy.

ALSO READ: Eric Adams, The Mayor Of New York, Is Being Sued For Nepotism Over His Brother’s Job

Foster, for her part, provides a stunningly (though predictably) skilled performance, maintaining a childlike candor among a chilly and unyielding willfulness. She owns every shot, revealing glimpses of the great actress she would become. The nude sequence both contradicts and personifies (as do some leering contemporary critiques) the film’s otherwise clear message: few things injure children more than those charged to safeguard them.

Why 'The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane' Is Worth Your Time

Even more terrifying is how careless these adults are, despite the harm they threaten to cause. Frank is more terrifying because of Sheen’s artless menace: a blundering ghoul only looking for an opportunity chevalier. Surprisingly, Sheen was best recognized at the time for Terrence Malick’s Badlands, in which he played a killer kid under dissimilar circumstances.

Here, the children are more resourceful than calculated. The act of “playing” becomes their only defense against obnoxious adults who intrude on their privacy. As a result, The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane deserves this setting, where its dynamic suspense may flourish.

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Why ‘The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane’ Is Worth Your Time

While there are many murderous children in cinema, Jodie Foster’s Rynn Jacobs in 1976’s The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane is largely overlooked. It was logical, considering her very productive year, which included notable performances in Bugsy Malone, Freaky Friday, Echoes of a Summer, and, of course, Taxi Driver, the behemoth of child star breakthroughs.

In fact, Rynn, more than any other character, escapes from the shadow of child prostitute Iris Steensma (for which Foster received her first Academy Award nomination) and becomes as much a casualty as a very complicated counterpart, neither less interesting nor less worth seeking out.

While the decades previous had seen the likes of Mervyn Leroy’s phenomenally successful The Bad Seed, The Innocents, and even Mario Bava’s Kill, Baby… Kill!, the 1970s saw a flood of wicked kids on screen. The unmistakable concern with corrupted and, moreover, ugly innocents seemed to announce certain other pervasive anxieties about the future of the family as we understood it from The Exorcist to The Omen.

Why 'The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane' Is Worth Your Time

The Vietnam War had already begun to haunt and shape a generation, and the unexpected, extensive coverage of serial murders shattered the middle-class home’s imagined safety.

Nicholas Gessner’s The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane fits right in with this new wave of films that are focused with all kinds of frightening threats to the nuclear family, none more treacherous than their own children, who defiantly oppose authority. Even now, after achieving cult status, the film’s genre – despite the obvious giallo influence – is difficult to define: part horror, part psychological thriller, part exploitation, and part teen romance.

ALSO READ: Asked About The Controversial Will Smith Slap, Mel Gibson Had The Perfect Response 

The film follows Rynn, a 13-year-old orphan living alone in a small Maine village, who is based on the 1974 novel by Laird Koenig, who also authored the script. The cop Ron Miglioriti (Mort Shuman), with whom Rynn later becomes friendly; her overbearing landlady Mrs Hallet (Alexis Smith); and, most troubling of all, Hallet’s son Frank (Martin Sheen), a known pedophile who has managed to elude jail thanks to his powerful mother and hounds Rynn with his relentless attentions.

Why 'The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane' Is Worth Your Time

They’re all naturally inquisitive about her father’s whereabouts, who is usually holed up in his study or sleeping upstairs. Hers is a thinly veiled ploy given with such persuasion that she frequently manages to persuade them, despite their better judgment. But their constant presence threatens her peace; no matter how stupid or naive, they are always endangering her safety.

ALSO READ: Amid LIV Golf Controversy, Phil Mickelson Withdraws From The PGA Championship

Here’s the Youtube Video Trailer by Biggest Trailer DataBase

In the shape of Miglioriti’s adorable teenage nephew Mario (Scott Jacoby), an aspiring magician whose earnestness melts the generally distant, icy Rynn, she finally meets a peer. Despite the fact that she is alone, she never appears lonely until Mario arrives. However, her delicate predicament will prove their undoing.

Why 'The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane' Is Worth Your Time

The picture debuted to mixed reviews and some – as it turns out, revelatory – controversy. During filming, Foster had a spat with a producer over the late inclusion of a nude scene, which was subsequently performed by her then-21-year-old sister. It’s a startling moment in a film where her one obvious vulnerability, her astonishing youth, is responsible for much of the suspense and even tragedy.

ALSO READ: Eric Adams, The Mayor Of New York, Is Being Sued For Nepotism Over His Brother’s Job

Foster, for her part, provides a stunningly (though predictably) skilled performance, maintaining a childlike candor among a chilly and unyielding willfulness. She owns every shot, revealing glimpses of the great actress she would become. The nude sequence both contradicts and personifies (as do some leering contemporary critiques) the film’s otherwise clear message: few things injure children more than those charged to safeguard them.

Why 'The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane' Is Worth Your Time

Even more terrifying is how careless these adults are, despite the harm they threaten to cause. Frank is more terrifying because of Sheen’s artless menace: a blundering ghoul only looking for an opportunity chevalier. Surprisingly, Sheen was best recognized at the time for Terrence Malick’s Badlands, in which he played a killer kid under dissimilar circumstances.

Here, the children are more resourceful than calculated. The act of “playing” becomes their only defense against obnoxious adults who intrude on their privacy. As a result, The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane deserves this setting, where its dynamic suspense may flourish.

RELATED ARTICLES

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Recent Posts