Baby Maker, The (1970)

Baby Maker, The (1970)

“If we do decide to go ahead, there are certain things we’d insist upon.”

A free-spirited young woman (Barbara Hershey) offers to serve as a surrogate for an infertile woman (Collin Wilcox Paxton) and her husband (Sam Groom), but soon finds that her boyfriend (Scott Glenn) isn’t happy with all the changes this brings to their lives.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Barbara Hershey Films
  • Counterculture
  • James Bridges Films
  • Pregnancy
  • Scott Glenn Films

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary writes, “James Bridges’s directorial debut features a fine, heartfelt performance by Barbara Hershey as a hippie who is hired by a straight-laced, well-to-do couple… to be a surrogate mother.” He notes that the “story emphasizes the awkward relationship between the three characters, beginning with the day Groom first has sex with Hershey, through her pregnancy, to after the birth of the child.”

He argues that while the “dialogue, as well as the look of the film, is dated,” the “premise is still timely,” and points out that Hershey “gives a believable, sensitive characterization playing a young woman who very much fit her own early free-spirit image.”

What Peary doesn’t mention is the equally important emphasis on how Hershey’s decision impacts her relationship with Glenn. At first he’s fine with the idea of his girlfriend making money in this way (and it’s her choice, anyway) — but he soon realizes what a (legitimate) imposition it is on their lives, and thankfully, he isn’t villainized for making a tough call at a certain point.

Indeed, to the film’s credit, it doesn’t shy away from any of the many challenging dilemmas this type of arrangement evokes — starting with the negotiated logistics, handled under-the-radar by a mysterious woman (Lili Valenty) whose house in the hills of Malibu is only accessible through a funicular.

A contract is drawn up and signed, but that doesn’t prevent emotions from running high all around — as they would. While it’s far from perfect, I’m recommending this film as must-see viewing simply for its bold willingness to handle such a sticky topic.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Barbara Hershey as Tish
  • Fine supporting performances
  • A bold exploration of a challenging social dilemma

Must See?
Yes, for its historical relevance as the first (American) film to deal with this topic — and for Hershey’s performance.


  • Historically Relevant
  • Noteworthy Performance(s)


One thought on “Baby Maker, The (1970)

  1. First viewing (11/16/21). Not must-see – though I’ll concede the rare depiction of its premise.

    Somewhat forgotten film, obviously dated and with the feel of a tv movie of the period. All told, it’s a rather angst-driven drama that’s sometimes a bit much. The performances aren’t particularly nuanced; not that the script allows for much of that.

    What starts out as a refreshing comic supporting role for Jeannie Berlin (sounding very much like her mother Elaine May) sort of deteriorates to nothing; a shame cause the film needed the lift.

    Actually, had Berlin’s role been better integrated into the script (and had the script itself been better in general), I might have found the film more compelling.

    Though she’s ok, I’m not as taken with Hershey here as I am with some of her other performances (i.e., in ‘Last Summer’, ‘Hannah and Her Sisters’, etc.).

    Director / writer James Bridges would go on to make much better films.

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