The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)

The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane: adapted by Laird Koenig from his own novel; directed by Nicholas Gessner; starring Jodie Foster (Rynn), Martin Sheen (Frank Hallet), Alexis Smith (Mrs. Hallet), Mort Shuman (Miglioriti) and Scott Jacoby (Mario) (1976): Oddball 1970’s movie that’s part horror movie, part distaff Catcher in the Rye.

Jodie Foster, fresh off Taxi Driver, plays main character Rynn, a 13-year-old girl who rents a secluded house in a small town with her reclusive poet father. She’s befriended by town cop Miglioriti and his amateur magician nephew Mario, and befiended by the owner of her house and the owner’s pedophiliac son, played by a young and intensely creepy Martin Sheen.

Apparently, Foster hated making this movie and has implied that she mailed in her performance. It doesn’t show — Rynn has been written as an emotionally distant character, and Foster’s enunciation, facila expressions, and body language convey this quite smartly. As noted, Sheen is creepy, and the other actors are also effective in their roles. Mostly low-key but weirdly affecting and even haunting. Recommended.

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