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Back When Brooke Shields Was a Bad Girl

Blue_lagoon_2 Teenage girls engage in risky behavior. This is not new news. Jamie Lynn Spears, sister to Britney and lead actress in the very recently canceled Zoey 101, is 16 and pregnant. A few months ago, photographs surfaced online of an unclothed Vanessa Hudgens, star of High School Musical . Tsk-tsk-ing all around.

The late 1970s was arguably even more permissive than the present decade with regard to onscreen sex and nudity. Brooke Shields managed to push the envelope anyway. In 1978, when she was 12-years-old, she played a child prostitute in Louis Malle’s Pretty Baby . Although filmed rather chastely, she did appear topless, and her character’s virginity was auctioned off in one seriously disturbing scene. 

Two years later, Shields was paddling around The Blue Lagoon with Christopher Atkins. The film’s original tagline was "A sensuous story of natural love," which probably made moviegoers feel better about ogling scantily-clad teens engaged in what might delicately be called self-discovery.

The Conference of Catholic Bishops gave the film an O for "morally offensive," and secular critics were not much more supportive. To say the plot strains credibility is to give it too much credit. As Emmeline, Shields speaks in a squeaky muppet voice. And Atkins’ character, Richard, can remember the names of several of Santa’s reindeer, but not the city they were headed for when their ship wrecked.

But what are facts in the face of beauty: Consider The Blue Lagoon as simply an excursion to a gorgeous tropical island populated by two gorgeous people, gorgeously filmed by the late Nestor Almendros, who also shot Days of Heaven and Places in the Heart .  Ah, how times change.

The only controversy Brooke Shields has been involved in recently was her altercation with Tom Cruise about medicating post-partum depression. Earlier this year, she appeared in a dream sequence on Hannah Montana. She played Hannah’s mom.

The Blue Lagoon airs tonight: Friday, January 4 at 10:30 p.m.  | 9:30C on AMC.

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