In a little seaside town, the thirteen year-old Rynn Jacobs is celebrating her birthday alone on a Halloween night since her father is not at home. They have arrived from England recently and leased the house for three years from Mrs. Cora Hallet. Out of the blue, Mrs. Hallet's pervert son Frank Hallet visits Rynn and sexually harasses her. Then his mother visits also the house and asks for Rynn's father. The girl tells that he traveled to New York. Mrs. Hallet tells that she needs her jelly glasses that are stored in the cellar and Rynn asks the impolite woman to go. Later she returns and opens the cellar door despite Rynn's refusal. However, she has an accident with the support of the cellar door that hits her head and she dies. Rynn tries to get rid of Mrs. Hallet's car to hide the evidence that she had visited her, but she has trouble to start the car and the aspirant magician Mario Podesta helps her. Rynn immediately trust Mario and discloses her secret to him. What is Rynn's secret?
This is the first movie that I ever watched in its entirety. I was only four years old. It kept my attention with no problem. Jodi Foster is my all time favorite actress. She was such a convincing actress when she was a child, she actually scared me for a while after that movie! I grew to love and respect every single character she played since! She is the best!
I only saw this movie twice in my life. The first time, of course, was when it was new. The second time was when I was around 27 and married. It still gave me a thrill. It was the second time I watched it that I realized the weird man was actually Martin Sheen. The plot is different, and Ms. Foster's performance was brilliant. I beg to differ that anyone did a better job in that picture than she did!
A great, creepy thriller
I saw this movie on TV when I was young and it has stayed with me for twenty years. One of my all-time favorites. There are a lot of other interesting comments on this film, to which I don't have anything to add, so this is just to say anyone who hasn't seen this movie should try to do so. I'd see it again if I could but unfortunately don't own it. This should definitely be re-released!
A Gem -- Where was this film hiding?
I was only 12 myself when this film was released so its not surprising I've never seen it before today. What a great film. Jodie Foster did indeed show her talent at a very young age. And I was surprised to see a film in the 70s dealing quite openly with abuse, teen sexuality, prejudice, and exploitation.
The plot was compelling and suspenseful, and the ending ambiguous -- a great film.
Eerie, provocative thriller...
New to a seaside village, a young girl and her poet father seem to live an isolated existence, until curious neighbors get nosy and always seem to find the fiercely independent girl on her own... Unwisely advertised as a horror movie, "Little Girl" is instead an amazing psychological thriller, rich with atmosphere and featuring a lead performance by Jodie Foster that is deft and incredibly assured. The sequence where Foster, troubled by the sickness of a friend, eats alone at a hamburger counter (actually, she hasn't touched her food), then wanders down the street studded with marquee lights has to be one of the most beautiful Foster moments put on film. Well-directed and written, the movie is very cognizant of the way adults condescend to or ignore children, and allows leading character Rynn to use her intelligence as a tool--and maybe a weapon as well. Those looking for slasher-type jolts may be disappointed with the picture; it's more subtle than something like "Halloween", creating suspense out of tension and mood instead of outré violence. Foster was at a personal peak at this time in the movies, having just completed "Taxi Driver" and "Bugsy Malone". This isn't the harrowing character study of "Taxi Driver", but it is a remarkable portrait of a terribly uncommon child dealing with very grown-up issues.
Not Your Typical Story Line! What a Terrific Off-Beat Thriller.
Great Suspense and Atmosphere. This movie instantly became one of my all-time favorites and is difficult to describe without giving too much away. More than most movies I can remember, reading too many comments about it's content beforehand can detract from the viewing experience (and a great one at that!) and ruin the suspense. I will try not to give too much about the film away beforehand.
First of all, I loved the production quality, atmosphere and locale. It would be a great movie to see on Halloween night for example, at least in my opinion. It really can be watched anytime however and will be just as great. The acting was high quality, all the way around but especially with Jodie Foster and Martin Sheen and the direction and score are excellent as well.
I had a problem with the plausibility of Jodie Foster's character behaving essentially as an adult. It was a little tough for me to buy into a 13 (or newly turned 14 year old) cooking gourmet meals, serving fine wines, listening to Chopin and generally acting much older than her chronological age.
Even taking into consideration the events in her life which apparently had shaped her personality, she seemed too mature for her age. If you put that concern aside however and accept it as a given premise of the movie you can sit back and enjoy the fun of trying to figure out what's going on.
And trying to figure out what's going on really *is* fun in this movie. Figuring out what's going on with her mysterious father is enough to keep you occupied in itself (if you think you've figured out what's going on with him you will find later that you probably haven't) and that's only one aspect of this complex scenario.
I hate when movies this good are not in general circulation any longer. Brian de Palma's "Sisters" and many other excellent movies also fall into this category. I can't figure out why studios can't figure out ways to continue to make them available to the public, after all...they went to the trouble to make them in the first place.
If you do get a chance to see "Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane" however, jump at it. You aren't likely to be disappointed.
Captivating mystery with solid performances
It's sometimes overlooked, in light of Foster's two Best Actress Oscars for a pair of her adult performances, how remarkable her career as a child actress was. She was not only a busy performer but also a versatile one, swinging from TV sitcoms to dramas with ease. In 1976 alone, she appeared in the films "Echoes of Summer", "Taxi Driver", Bugsy Malone", "Freaky Friday" and "The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane" and these were not small or undemanding parts! Here she plays the title character, a young teen residing in a large, leased home ostensibly under the care of her poet father. Soon, the question is raised as to whether her father is actually living there with her and, if he's not, what has become of him? A small assortment of local people come and go, each providing either reassurance or threat as her existence is examined. Sheen is a pathological jerk who has a thing for underage girls. He barges in uninvited and threatens her in a very tough and audacious manner. Smith plays his mother and the leasing agent for the house. She's every bit as imperious as her son, though she's clearly mortified by him and appalled by his behavior while retaining a mother's protectiveness of him. Jacoby is a mildly-disabled teen who befriends Foster in her hour of need, becoming a very important presence in her life. Shuman plays Jacoby's uncle, a friendly, undemanding policeman. As Foster ekes out her seemingly lonely life, she finds out that some people won't allow her that luxury while others make it clear to her that she'd rather enjoy the company of someone. At once a character study, a mystery and a thriller, this film has a few minor flaws, but remains captivating. Foster, outfitted in an unfortunately obvious wig, does an admirable job playing a girl about her own age in extraordinary circumstances. Foster, herself, seems as advanced as the impossibly adult-like character she's portraying. It's an eye-opening characterization and she handles it well. (There is one bizarro moment when her much older sister stands in for her in an unnecessary nude scene, displaying bikini tan lines that couldn't be remotely possible in the crisp, snowy setting of the film!) Sheen is just about as slimy as they come, conveying the idea that it's his right to come into a person's home and molest his daughter! Jacoby gives a strong performance, his quirky, tender persona providing a nice counterpoint to Foster's austerity. Shuman is very natural and believable in his part as well. One highlight of the film is the extraordinary turn by Smith. In her two brief scenes, she manages to inject a massive amount of subtext and a panorama of attitudes into her character. Looking terrific in a pair of Valentino-designed New England matron ensembles, she wrings every possible drop of interest and texture out of her role. Her scant screen time is a lesson in how to get the most out of every moment. It's an intriguing set-up and an enthralling film most of the time. There's a lack of plausibility at times and it's also startlingly obvious at others, but most viewers will find themselves hanging on to see how it ends. The fairly vague finale may not fully satisfy everyone, though.
This film was made in 1976, when thriller/suspense still had to have some semblance of a plot; innuendo rather than special effects; decent acting rather than explosions and violence.
And for that it is to be appreciated. Jodi Foster is very good as Rynn, a mysterious 13 year old who lives alone in a seaside town, somewhere off the coast of Massachusetts. Martin Sheen, as always, is excellent as a neighborhood creep, interested in Rynn, (he has some sort of criminal history against children).
Scott Jacoby is her peer, trying to help her live alone, and stay in the house her father has provided, although her father and mother have both mysteriously disappeared.
All in all an interesting theme, with some beautiful landscapes of the New England, and the beaches during winter. 8/10.
A genuine original
Jodie Foster doesn't like this film. "When people are there to simply do a job they don't have any passion for," she is reported as saying, "those are nearly always bad films." Presumably, her unhappy memories of the shoot (she refused to do a nude scene; she was 14 at the time) prejudiced her against the movie. This is a shame, because The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane, based on the novella by Laird Koenig, in no way disgraces a fascinating CV. Fortunately or otherwise, we are merely spectators to the end result - a flawed, genuine oddity, with a lot going for it.
A post Taxi Driver Foster plays 13 year-old Rynn Jacobs, the eponymous, wildly precocious 'Girl' living alone in a rented house by the New England coast, surviving on travellers cheques and misdirection. We gradually discover that her celebrated poet father has died, though this fact must remain a secret, lest she be taken into care.
We also learn that she is disliked by her horrid landlady (Smith) and the feeling is mutual ("This is my house," she whispers defiantly at Mrs Hallet's retreating back), although her bad wolf of a son Frank (Sheen) would certainly like to see more of Rynn.
There is a secret under the trap door in the living room. Soon there will be two secrets. And there are two innocents, a kindly local policeman (Shuman) and his teenage nephew, the polio-crippled amateur conjurer Mario (Jacoby), who are drawn into her desperately self-contained world. The certain tragedy is that, like some barbed exotic insect with an impenetrable defence mechanism, Rynn seems destined for a life of eternal, wintry desolation.
Though originally promoted as a horror by perplexed distributors (tagline: "Ask Her No Questions And Nobody Dies!") the film defies pat categorizing - at various junctures resembling a stagey, Hitchcockian suspense thriller in the Rope vein, an existential drama, even at times a romantic comedy, albeit a distinctly unsentimental one.
Its closest cinematic neighbours are The Cement Garden and Hard Candy, although there is practically no bloodletting and, whether through design or fluffed direction, few sudden shocks. It might also be read as an allegory of anti-Semitism, with the Jewish, Hebrew-studying Rynn fiercely protecting her culture and lifestyle from the local, close-ranked WASPs: "Thirteen and brilliant, as so many of your people are," sneers Mrs Hallet; 'brilliant', the equivalent of the Oriental-directed 'inscrutable'.
Mostly, as suggested by the title, with its echoes of the playroom, The Little Girl is steeped in the dark, tangled stuff of folk and fairytale; the domain of evil witch queens who must be vanquished; of ogres who threaten pubescent, tower-bound princesses; and of heroic young wizards who come to their rescue. Archetypes that grow up alongside us, becoming wilder, more dangerous and more unpredictable as we reach our teens.
"How old do you have to be before people start treating you like a person?" complains Rynn, no longer an infant, but still possessed of the vulnerability of adolescence; it is touchingly, appallingly sad that Rynn believes she might be able to deflect Sheen's advances by telling him she is a year older than she actually is; 14 not 13. If the courageous Mario has sworn to uphold her honour with his dazzling sleight of hand, all his tricks are rendered powerless in the face of this thirtysomething predator ("Be a good little magician would you son, and disappear yourself") who even drops by on Hallowe'en; two years before Michael Myers.
It is up to Rynn, drawing on all her resources, to defeat the monster with her magic potion by the end of the story. All performances here are exemplary, from Foster's wise-beyond-her-years title role to Sheen's bullying child molester, a brave and potentially career-burying role coming so soon after Badlands.
There's great support too from Smith, Jacoby and 'Viva Las Vegas' songwriter Shuman, also responsible for the lovely main theme - though hopefully not the dreadful incidental wah-wah, familiar from 1970s cop thrillers.
Such incongruous intrusions, along with some flat, TV-movie direction and the queasy sight of Foster (or rather her body-doubling elder sister Connie) jumping naked into bed with Mario, don't do the film any favours; between this, Taxi Driver and Bugsy Malone, poor Jodie had by 1976 become as prematurely sexualised as a Bratz doll. And for a movie dealing with paedophiles, this seems dreadfully close to an own goal: no wonder Foster would prefer to forget Little Girl. Yet ranged against the standard 1970s psychothriller, this haunting little picture is in a class of its own.
sadness and willpower!
This is a wonderful movie!You can reach to the "little girl" and feel her solitude and, at times, you wish you were as strong as she is!The story in itself is great but the way it was directed, the set, the actors make you feel you are a part of it! There is no way to explain that story:you just have to discover it and you will understand,through the movie, the poetry of that "little girl"'s life who is not a "little girl",just someone who had to take care of her life from an early age surrounded by characters who just see a "bohemian child"from divorced parents in a little town where the so called low classed people have to be nobody in front of the single rich family! There is so much to tell and I don't want to spoil that movie!It is just great:you just have to feel!
Interesting Little Thriller.
"The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane" focuses on Rynn Jacobs (played by the brilliant Jodie Foster), a thirteen year old girl who lives in an old house a little outside of a small seaside town. The neighbors and townspeople are nosy, and always end up checking in on Rynn to find her all by herself, a very independent little girl. But where is her father? That is the question that everyone who visits the home has. Rynn has temporary excuses to her father's whereabouts, but soon Rynn has to resort to extremes - even murder - to hide a secret from the nosy people and the landlord who are invading her home and wanting to know too much information.
More of a drama thriller than a horror movie (as the film may seem), "The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane" is an interesting psychological thriller that is held very well with Jodie Foster's excellent performance (as always). She shows off her acting abilities in everything I've seen her in, and even in this, which is her earlier work, she still shows a high amount of potential. It's no wonder she's become such a celebrated Hollywood actress, she's good at what she does. Martin Sheen, also playing a nosy neighbor in this film, is also very good in his role. I liked the idea of this film - an isolated and lonely little girl who seems to be possibly living alone, but hiding a secret as to why her father has mysteriously disappeared. But where is her father, and why isn't he there? The premise is intriguing so I thoroughly enjoyed the film. And the idea of such a young child resorting to murder is plain disturbing, even though it has been done a number of times, it's done very well here.
But the real strong point of this film is what happens in the audience's point of view. We, just like the landlord and her son, and all of the other nosy people that are invading her home, don't know the secret behind why Rynn's father is gone either. The audience is put in the position of these characters, and it's a really fun experience to try and figure it out for ourselves.
Overall, "The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane" is a sometimes eerie and interesting thriller. It keeps the audience guessing along with it but holds onto our interest the entire time and doesn't fail with the storyline. Very well executed and very well acted, with a strong atmosphere to go along with it. Don't expect a gory slasher film though, because this is nothing even close to that. 7/10.
Foster's Best Performance
Jodie Foster, at age 14, portrayed a real-world adult in her best performance in a film. It is awe inspiring seeing a child actress act in such a beautiful and professional way. I started with the acting because with a film that offers numerous memories, the acting of Jodie Foster is something I will never forget.
I suggest the few people reading my review to refrain from reading the plot line. I skimmed the plot, and whether I'm a dyslexic or I have a mental disorder, I missed a key part in the plot that I believe made the film much better and mysterious. Below is the plot line the filmmakers wanted to give the viewers before going into The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Road, but I have taken two words out. I suggest you refrain from finding out anything else; it's unnecessary. ~A 13-year-old resorts to murder to protect herself.~
The main character Ryann, despite what stereotypes you may have about teenage girls, is not only the most interesting teenage girl I have ever seen (fiction and non-fiction), but also one of the most interesting characters in a film I have seen. This may be due to my uninteresting life, but that's the honest truth. She's intelligent, witty, devious, independent, dark; but that changes until she lets the viewer enter her life, and that is when I felt like I truly knew her. She isn't a one-dimensional character, and her actions are worthy of discussion.
Even though I have raved about the characters and acting, that is not enough to warrant a viewing for most people. It may be a simple and short film, but The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Road is also unique in a small way. I doesn't achieve anything out of the ordinary, but it's something you never imagined seeing on-screen. It's a little hard to explain, but once you (hopefully) give it a chance, you'll know exactly what I was saying. It's the simplicity that gives it that masterpiece status because the character development, emotion and wonder packed into this one short film will make the viewer feel tricked, and mesmerized, in the greatest way possible.
Low-Budget Cult Gem
In a little seaside town, the thirteen year-old Rynn Jacobs (Jodie Foster) is celebrating her birthday alone on a Halloween night since her father is not at home. They have arrived from England recently and leased the house for three years from Mrs. Cora Hallet (Alexis Smith). Out of the blue, Mrs. Hallet´s pervert son Frank Hallet (Martin Sheen) visits Rynn and sexually harasses her. Then his mother visits also the house and asks for Rynn´s father. The girl tells that he travelled to New York. Mrs. Hallet tells that she needs her jelly glasses that are stored in the cellar and Rynn asks the impolite woman to go. Later she returns and opens the cellar door despite Rynn´s refusal. However, she has an accident with the support of the cellar door that hits her head and she dies. Rynn tries to get rid of Mrs. Hallet´s car to hide the evidence that she had visited her, but she has trouble to start the car and the aspirant magician Mario Podesta (Scott Jacoby) helps her. Rynn immediately trust Mario and discloses her secret to him. What is Rynn´s secret?
"The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane" is a low-budget cult gem with Jodie Foster and Martin Sheen. The plot is original, creepy and highly enjoyable. Rynn Jacobs is a young teenager trained by her father to behave like an adult and it is impressive the intelligence and cold blood of this character. Martin Sheen performs a scary pervert. Their performances give credibility to their characters. My vote is nine.
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