Cast & Crew
In a small republic ruled by military officers, a motorcade escorts the president's wife, Marina Pinares, to a publicity event. A former actress, Marina has managed her rise out of poverty and illegitimacy by having sex with prominent men and manipulating her popularity with the masses of poor people, who worship her as a saint. Knowing nothing about her true character, the poor have nicknamed Marina their "Little Mother" and, with their support, Marina helped to achieve her husband Colonel Pinares' election to the presidency. Inside her limousine, Marina is told by her doctor that she has cancer and only two or three months to live. Although the doctor encourages her hope that the Catholic Church will canonize her, he emphasizes that she must conserve her energy and urges her not to run for vice-president in the next election, as she wishes to do. Disturbed by the doctor's diagnosis, but wanting to keep it secret, even from Pinares, Marina goes into a church to think. Later, as she performs her duties, she reminisces about a vacation she took with Pinares before they were married, during which she mischievously refused him sex until he taught her to ski. In the evening, Marina prepares to meet with her most ardent supporters. Rain prevents her from appearing on the balcony above the courtyard, so she orders the people to be brought into the banquet hall. Taking a throne-like chair at the front of the room, Marina listens as, one by one, they approach her with their problems. When a woman begs to be allowed to have an abortion, Marina tells her that she must be strong, and silently recalls an earlier meeting with the Cardinal: Claiming the Church is distressed by liberal laws passed under Pinares' regime, the Cardinal stresses the Church's stance opposing abortion and birth control. His remark about illegitimate children awakens painful memories in Marina, who was born out of wedlock, of being barred from her father's funeral by his legitimate family. The Cardinal warns Marina that if she loses the support of the Church, Pinares can be overthrown with the help of the military, despite Marina's grassroots supporters. In the present, before she is to make an appearance on the balcony, Pinares' ministers insist that Marina renounce her candidacy for vice-president. Although sympathetic to her wishes, Pinares explains that upon his death, the vice-president will become the leader of the military and that the officers will never accept a woman in that role. However, while standing on the balcony, Marina hears the people cry out, "Marina for vice-president!" and gives a speech that leaves her options open. After her speech, she individually confronts the angry, high-ranking officials, saying, "Fuck you!" to each of them, which later prompts Umberia and other officials to discuss the possibility of her assassination. During confession, Marina tells the Cardinal that she is dying and asks about being canonized. The Cardinal explains that the process would require a thorough investigation of her life to determine that she committed no acts considered "hostile" to the Church and she assures him current anti-abortion laws will not be changed. The Cardinal then reminds Marina that although Riano, Pinares' former Minister of Labor, has never proven his accusations of torture and murder against her, he has never retracted his statement. At her first opportunity, Marina orders her men in the Internal Security Division to track down Riano and then recalls events that happened five years earlier: Riano, who was then a union secretary, appears with Pinares and Marina on a television show and soon becomes one of her many lovers. He turns against her when he encounters her in the process of torturing prisoners to provide information she wants. In his presence, the uncooperative prisoners laugh hysterically at her frustration, and in her anger, she impulsively shoots two, frightening Peter, another prisoner, into revealing what she wants to know. In the present, Marina spots a former roommate, Annette, watching her from the crowd. Recalling that her life will be thoroughly examined, Marina recalls how, years ago, she began her climb out of poverty by securing women to attend young military officers' orgies: As the men particularly crave a "deflowering," Marina tricks the virginal Annette into accompanying her to the party and slips a drug into her drink, after which the men gang rape her. The same night, Marina gains the attention of Umberia, who invites her to have sex with him and afterward she becomes his mistress. In the present, Marina sends her men to kill Annette, who has become an alcoholic prostitute and a threat to Marina's reputation, and then recalls what happened after aligning with Umberia years ago: Umberia uses his connections to get Marina small acting jobs, but otherwise keeps her hidden away. In defiance, Marina attends a party with a naïve young soldier and flaunts herself in front of Umberia's wife. By sleeping with Bobby Dark, the star of a television show, Marina acquires a job as the weather girl on his show. After an earthquake, the news team goes on location to report on the tragedy, but Dark refuses to mingle with the suffering people. In the crowd helping the victims, Marina spots Pinares, an ambitious minister of labor, and on impulse goes down to meet him. The show's director, seeing a chance for a good story, orders the camera crew to zoom in on Marina and gets her a microphone. Impromptu, Marina reports a fabricated story that Pinares has established a charitable fund to help earthquake victims and urges viewers to send money. Soon, Pinares is inundated with donations and utilizes his influence to get Marina her own show, which she then uses to further support his political career. Pinares makes the charity appeal a permanent foundation and asks Marina to move in with him, eventually marrying her. In the present, Marina's secretary shows her one of hundreds of letters sent by an overly ardent fan, Lt. Lang, who is later transferred to Umberia's staff. As Marina's health deteriorates, rumors about her condition circulate, but she denies them, claiming she has the flu and laryngitis. When her men capture Riano, who is now a leader of a revolutionary group, he refuses to retract his accusations publicly, incurring in her a fit of anger. Seeing her weakened by the outburst, he realizes that she is dying. Although she promises he will have a slow, painful death, Riano's friends manage to free him. With little time left, Marina devises for herself a more spectacular death than cancer and summons Lang to help her. Before one of Marina's scheduled appearances, Umberia, also planning her demise, releases Peter from prison, expecting he will take revenge on her. Upon learning that Peter is free, Riano, fearing that his group will be blamed for any assassination attempts, searches for him in the crowd below the balcony. Across the plaza, Peter aims his gun at Marina, but a near fainting spell causes her to be taken inside. Having predicted that she might lack the strength to give a speech live, Marina had earlier pre-recorded her message and now asks that it be broadcast, but insists on sitting on the balcony, where she has arranged for Lang to be positioned. When she returns to the balcony, Peter again takes aim, but Riano prevents him from shooting. However, gunfire startles the crowd as Lang kills Marina and is in turn killed by an Internal Security man. Lang's body falls over the balcony to the angry and mournful crowd below, but viewers watching the event on television see only Marina's pre-recorded message. After the recorded message, an announcer reports that the show is being returned to the live celebration in progress, but television shows only a static screen.
Although a copyright statement appearing in the opening credits reads: "Copyright Audubon Films, Inc., 1973," the film was not registered at the time of its release. The video edition of the film, titled Blood Queen, was registered for copyright by Audubon Films, Inc. on April 8, 1988 under the number PA-399-513. The copyright
record lists The Rise of Little Mother and modern sources add Immoral Mistress as alternate titles of the film. Although the New York Times review reported that the film was advertised under the title, Mother, no other source mentioned this title.
The above-title onscreen credit for Christiane Kruger reads: "Christiane Kruger as Blood Queen." Several reviews noted that Kruger, who was making her American film debut in Little Mother, was the daughter of prominent German actor Hardy Kruger. Although the name of actor Ivan Desny, who portrayed "Umberia," is missing from the onscreen credits of the viewed print, he appears third on the cast list in most contemporary reviews.
The opening credits contain footage that is repeated later in the film. Using long and short flashbacks, the film moves back and forward frequently between the present and various times in the story's past. Black-and-white broadcasts, as seen on television sets, are shown at various times within the film. Little Mother ends in near silence with a shot of a television set showing static on the screen.
According to Hollywood Reporter production charts and reviews, Little Mother was shot in Zagreb, Yugoslavia. Although the time and place of the story is presented ambiguously, and a disclaimer in the opening credits states that all characters and events are fictitious, many reviews reported that the film was inspired by the life of Evita Perón (born Eva María Duarte 1919-1952), an Argentine actress who, after marrying Colonel Juan Perón, used her tremendous popularity with the poor and working classes to assist in her husband's election to the presidency of that country. Among other similarities to the film's "Marina Pinares," Perón was born illegitimate and established a charitable foundation with her husband that was criticized by detractors as being self-serving. Although Perón, like the film alter ego, had aspirations to serve alongside her husband as vice-president, she, too, died from cancer at the age of thirty-three.
Perón appeared in several Argentine films in the late 1930s and 1940s under the name Eva Duarte. Among recent productions based on her life are the television movie Evita Peron, starring Faye Dunaway and directed by Marvin J. Chomsky, which aired on February 23, 1981; the 1996 Argentinian production Eva Peron: The True Story, directed by Juan Carlos Desanzo and starring Esther Goris; and the 1996 Buena Vista release Evita, starring Madonna and Antonio Banderas, which was directed by Alan Parker and based on the 1979 stage musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.
Released in United States 1972
Released in United States 1972