|Barbara Hershey as Patricia "Tish" Gray|
|Sam Groom as Jay Wilcox|
|Collin Wilcox as Suzanne Wilcox|
|Scott Glenn as Tad Jacks|
|Lili Valenty as Mrs. Culnick, the sweet little old lady go-between who|
facilitates the pairing of the childless couple with a willing surrogate
Further adding to the film’s woes were those who simply saw the film’s subject matter as being either distasteful or amoral, or, perhaps most damaging, the fact that just a few months prior to the release of The Baby Maker, John G. Avildsen’s low-budget social melodrama Joe (which climaxed with a vigilante massacre at a hippie commune by a pair of ultra-conservative working-class reactionaries) had struck some kind of chord with the public and became a controversial sleeper hit.
|"I was just looking at your records. You have an awful lot of Frank Sinatra."|
The surrogate mother meets (and sizes up) the father
I don’t recall it ever appearing on television or even having a video release. And while I remember when it came out, I confess to having responded to the newspaper ads much the same as I suppose many did: the film looked like cheap exploitation. Not that that had ever been a deterrent to my interest in any film, but with both Myra Breckinridge and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls hitting the screens that same year, I guess my reasoning was that if I was going to see trash, it might as well come from a major studio.
|Making his film debut, actor Scott Glenn is very good as Tish's sweet but immature boyfriend. |
Glenn would go on to have a featured role in James Bridges' Urban Cowboy (1980)
As the middle-class couple, Collin Wilcox and stolidly handsome Sam Groom (whose large head makes him well suited for the medium shots of television, where he indeed found his success as TV’s Police Surgeon) supply more traditional performances that, by comparison, feel more generic, but both are quite good. Wilcox in particular (whom I don’t think I’ve seen in anything since To Kill a Mockingbird) plays Suzanne as a grounded but somewhat neurotic character of emotional complexity. It’s the unique female relationships and the dominance of the women’s performances in The Baby Maker (this includes Jeannie Berlin as Tish’s activist best friend) that makes it such a surprisingly refreshing period-piece of a movie for me.
THE STUFF OF DREAMS
|The Baby Maker producer Jack Larson (l.) & director James Bridges met when both appeared as actors in the film Johnny Trouble (1957). Openly gay, they remained lovers/partners till Bridges' death in 1993. Larson passed away in 2015|
|In a reversal of a common youth film trope, the male bodies are the|
ones exposed and made the object of the gaze in The Baby Maker
The days of gigantic stereos, door-size coffee tables, and sofas that seat 20
A consistant theme in many of my favorite films is the human need for contact, so I'm a sucker for movies about people who misguidedly assume independence means the absence of attachments. Plus, anybody who knows me knows how much I love a good cry at the movies, and the ending of The Baby Maker never fails to get the ol' waterworks going.
|Phyllis Coates, Jack Larson and unknown actress in The Adventures of Superman|
|Phyllis Coates as Patricia's mother|
|Brenda Sykes (Cleopatra Jones) appears in an unbilled bit part as a woman|
with whom Tad shares a flirtation (and a joint)
Copyright © Ken Anderson