Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Kino Lorber - THE LITTLE GIRL WHO LIVES DOWN THE LANE on Blu-ray ""

Monday, May 9, 2016

Kino Lorber - THE LITTLE GIRL WHO LIVES DOWN THE LANE on Blu-ray

THE LITTLE GIRL WHO LIVES DOWN THE LANE (1976; Nicholas Gessner)
This is one of those cases where the MPAA rating system breaks down a little. While I can't totally protest the PG rating, there's a lot of bizarre and uneasy material in this film that would seem much more geared toward an older audience.
I've thought to myself before that this movie (which I thought was based on a book) would make a fantastic stage play. With a few exceptions, it's basically one location and about four characters or so. What's compelling here is Jodi Foster of course - as she often was during her younger years. Not to say that she's not compelling now, but when she was a kid - her extremely well-inhabited character performances had this tendancy to catch you off guard. Come to find out, it actually WAS a stage play first and was then made into a novel - which was then turned into a movie. I'm sometimes not a big fan of stage to screen adaptations as they can feel a little stiff and contrived when translated to movie form. This movie doesn't suffer from that at all and it may just be that the actors are so captivating in their performances and the scenario itself is so eerie - that it keeps it feeling that way. Another thing that helps that feeling is the sense of tension and mystery that develops as the film continues. Basically, Rynn Jacobs (Jodie Foster) is a thirteen year old girl living in her father's home in a seaside town in Maine. She is visited by the grown son (Martin Sheen) of her older woman landlady and he, seeing that she is seemingly alone, makes some creepy (and obviously unwelcome) advances. It's unclear where her father is as she gives a few different reasons for his absence. The rest of the film, we continue to see her menaced by the landlady's son and the landlady herself as we attempt to figure out what is going on with this young girl. She sort of has a boyfriend (Scott Jacoby), and he stops by too. The movie is this neat combination of thriller, mystery, romance and some horror elements - which has perhaps helped make it stand out and have something of a cult following. The fact that the film begins on the eve of Halloween is a nice touch as well. The whole thing is kind of an elaborate game of 'hide and seek'.
Jodie Foster showed such remarkable talent in her early years as an actor. Seeing her play a scene with a veteran like Martin Sheen - especially in a predatory role - is both mesmerizing and suspenseful. Scott Jacoby (who you will likely remember from the cult TV Movie BAD RONALD) was a very capable teen actor whose heyday was certainly the 1970s, though he continued to act into the 80s. His face may seem familiar due to the fact that he is the oldest of 5 kids - all of whom have done some acting in TV and film during both the 70s and 80s. Scott is underrated though and he does some nice work here. His chemistry with Jodie is believably (even if their relationship is a bit odd). One of the neat things about this film is that it features kids "playing as adults", which is not too common any more. It's not the kind of thing that would likely be remade because of the hints at pedophilia and child peril that it contains. 

Special Features:
This Kino/Scorpion special edition has several supplements - all worthwhile.
-First up is an audio commentary from director Nicholas Gessner. Folks that have heard Werner Herzog speak will possibly find Gessner's voice and accent somewhat similar. Gessner has clearly prepared some talking points for this track, which is quite nice. He speaks to casting Jodie Foster (based solely on having seen a rough print of ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE) and how there was no audition process. Gessner also discussing both his directing and writing styles as well as how they found the "lane" location they ended up using. He further goes into detail about how certain technical things were accomplished on set. In addition, he tells many stories of his own experience directing other actors in other films he's worked on. It's a good track. I'm always happy to learn more about mysterious movies from forty years ago.
-Next is an on camera interview with actor Martin Sheen (28 mins). Sheen discusses how he was cast, working with the director and the other actors and generally recalls some stories from the production.
-Lastly is a conversation between Nicholas Gessner and Martin Sheen (6 mins). This is a recording of Sheen talking to Gessner through Skype. The director asks the actor about his role and how he went about it and they catch up with each other and recall a few things about the movie.
You can purchase this Blu-ray from Amazon here:
http://amzn.to/1T5cTal


2 comments:

Nicolas Gessner said...

Many thanks, Rupert Pupkin, for your interesting and positive comments.
Allow me please to mention that the rough cut of a Jodie Foster film Martin Scorsese kindly let me watch for my casting efforts was not 'Taxi Driver' but 'Alice doesn't live here anymore' (1974) -- just to avoid some fans getting confused by our chronology.
Nicolas Gessner

Rupert Pupkin said...

Thank you!! My apologies! Will make the correction!