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Baby It's You

Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Sayles
Produced by Griffin Dunne
Amy Robinson
Written by Screenplay:
John Sayles
Story:
Amy Robinson
Starring Rosanna Arquette
Vincent Spano
Joanna Merlin
Jack Davidson
Cinematography Michael Ballhaus
Editing by Sonya Polonsky
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) March 4, 1983
Running time 105 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Baby It's You is an American film released in 1983 written and directed by John Sayles. It stars Rosanna Arquette and Vincent Spano.[1]

This was Sayles' first film for a major Hollywood studio. He based the screenplay on an autobiographical story by Amy Robinson.

Contents

Plot

The film is about a romance between an upper middle class Jewish Girl named Jill Rosen (Arquette), who is bound for Sarah Lawrence College, and a blue-collar Italian boy nicknamed the Sheik (Spano) in 1966 New Jersey, who aspires to follow in the path of the great Sinatra--the Chairman of the Board.

The movie follows their high school experiences during their romance: Jill's success in high school acting productions, Jill's rebuffing Sheik's sexual advances, Sheik's one-night stand with a sexually active friend of Jill's, and a subsequent suicide attempt by that friend.

Eventually, Sheik is expelled from school, and after an attempted robbery and subsequent pursuit by local police, Sheik goes to Miami, Florida, while Jill subsequently leaves for her first year at Sarah Lawrence. At one point in her first year, Jill visits Sheik in Florida, and although she sees clearly how little he has going for him (he has found work in a nightclub washing dishes and, on weekends, lipsynching to Frank Sinatra recordings), she chooses to have sex with him, for their first (and only) time. In the moments before they undress, their conversation turns to his odd nickname, which he had not explained to Jill when they dated in high school. "Sheik" is brand of condoms, he explains--"like Trojans."

Some time after Jill returns to college, Sheik arrives at work to find that he has been unceremoniously replaced by a real singer, albeit one with no great talent. This humiliation makes Sheik self-aware of his almost non-existent opportunities for career success (in any endeavor), and in response, he steals a car and makes the long drive from Miami to New York, propelled by the romantic notion of reuniting with Jill.

Jill's initial college experience has not been easy or happy: she has not met with the acting or social success she had in high school. Yet, the act of consumating her desire for Sheik has led her to realize that she does not love him, for having had sex with him has moved her past the point of romantic and sexual wonder, and left her seeing that they inhabit different social worlds (or more precisely, different class strata). When Sheik arrives at Sarah Lawrence and does not, at first, find Jill, he violently trashes her room and waits for her return. When she does and he declares his love for her, she tells him plainly that she does not love him. Sheik briefly resists her response and then, in a moment of quiet dignity, accepts it. This exchange between them (and the movie) ends with a moment of gentleness and kindness. Jill reaches out to Sheik, though clearly as a friend, and asks him as a favor--for them both, in a sense--if he will take her to a college dance, for which she has otherwise been unable to find a date. The movie ends with this dance, and this final scene also registers the quick pace of change in popular culture in the mid-1960s. In the midst of the dance, either Jill or Sheik (the film does not identify which one) makes a "request" of the rock band that is performing, which is that the band, incongruously, perform "Strangers in the Night," the Sinatra hit that had been a key part of the soundtrack, as it were, of their high school romance.

Background

The film wasn't actually produced by the studio but financed on the basis of a distribution commitment. As a result, during post-production, Paramount executives began criticizing the downbeat ending of the film and the choice of classic pop music on the soundtrack. Sayles fought his way through the test screening process and was able to get his cut released but in retaliation the studio half-heartedly promoted it.

The film has had difficulty being released to DVD due to the expensive costs for music clearance and Paramount's continued disinterest. Baby It's You has been available on DVD since July, 2008.

Cast

  • Rosanna Arquette as Jill Rosen
  • Vincent Spano as Albert "Sheik" Capadilupo
  • Joanna Merlin as Mrs. Rosen
  • Jack Davidson as Dr. Rosen
  • Nick Ferrari as Mr. Capadilupo
  • Dolores Messina as Mrs. Capadilupo
  • Leora Dana as Miss Vernon, Teacher
  • Bill Raymond as Mr. Ripeppi, Teacher
  • Sam McMurray as Mr. McManus, Teacher
  • Liane Alexandra Curtis as Jody, High School Girl
  • Claudia Sherman as Beth, High School Girl
  • Marta Kober as Debra, High School Girl
  • Tracy Pollan as Leslie, College Girl
  • Rachel Dretzin as Shelly, College Girl
  • Susan Derendorf as Chris, College Girl
  • Robert Downey Jr. as Stewart

Critical reception

Film critic Janet Maslin discussed the music in the film and wrote, "Music is a major part of Baby, It's You, as the title may indicate. The score consists of rock songs that more or less correspond to the time, although Sheik's entrances are accompanied by Bruce Springsteen songs; these may be anachronistic, but they suit Sheik to a T. These touches, as well as the generally impeccable period details and the evocative cinematography by Michael Ballhaus (who shot many of R.W. Fassbinder's later films), suggest that Baby, It's You was a labor of love for everyone involved."[2]

Critic Dennis Schwartz wrote, "It was for indie filmmaker Sayles his first film to be made with financial backing by a major studio (Doubleday backed it and Paramount bought it), but he swore it would be his last as he was pissed that he lost final editing cut. For Sayles this is lighter fare than what he usually tackles, but he fights through all the teenage clichés to give his own spin on this romance, the significance of social-class differences, how it is to finally grow up by listening to your heart and to change with the times."[3]

Awards

Wins

See also

References

  1. ^ Baby It's You at the Internet Movie Database.
  2. ^ Maslin, Janet. The New York Times, film review, March 25, 1983. Last accessed: February 28, 2008.
  3. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, January 10, 2007 Last accessed: February 28,208.

External links

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