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Jodie Foster's filmography

Jodie Foster’s filmography — ”Taxi Driver,” ”The Silence of the Lambs,” and more films featuring the star of the new ”Sommersby”

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Jodie Foster’s filmography

Some child stars hit adolescence and turn suddenly unremarkable: Where’s Margaret O’Brien today? Some, like Dean Stockwell, soldier on as character actors. A precious few — Liz Taylor, Natalie Wood — have carried us with them through puberty and into an adulthood of charismatic instability. And then there’s Jodie Foster, who is her own category: the child actor as levelheaded, miniature grown-up; the adult star who’s as open to possibility as any child. Most of her films are on video and, seen in order, they show a journey from preternatural confidence to thoughtful exploration to consolidation of talent and power. And the trip is far from over.

Disney and Anti-Disney:
Some of Foster’s early films have yet to make it to video (too bad: wouldn’t you love to see her playing Raquel Welch’s daughter in Kansas City Bomber?). Others are on video but are hard to find (if you locate a copy of Smile, Jenny, You’re Dead, let us know). The available ones show a kid with more poise and smarts than most directors knew what to do with.

NAPOLEAN AND SAMANTHA (1972)
Graduating from Uncle Walt’s stable of TV stars (she costarred in 1969’s Menace on the Mountain), 9-year-old Jodie made her movie debut in this Disney family adventure. She and Johnny Whitaker play runaways on a rugged cross-country journey; their costars include a lion named Major and a handsome young Michael Douglas. B-

TOM SAWYER (1973)
Foster reteamed with Whitaker in this musical version of the Twain classic. As a singing Tom and Becky, they reprised their nominated ”Love” at the 1974 Academy Awards. B

ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE (1974)
It took Martin Scorsese to first tap her weird maturity, casting her as a tough tomboy who leads Ellen Burstyn’s son into petty crime. B

BUGSY MALONE (1976)
Alan Parker’s all-child gangster musical won some raves in ’76, but today it’s a cloying, creepy fiasco. As a chorus-line tootsie, Foster makes the rest of the cast look like…well, kids. D

TAXI DRIVER (1976)
In Scorsese’s urban parable, she effortlessly shows us both sides of a child prostitute: the fallen angel whom Robert De Niro’s Travis decides to save, and the raw, messed-up little girl. A-

FREAKY FRIDAY (1976)
A deftly funny cross-generational mind/body switcheroo, this is Disney fluff that endures, thanks to the skills of Barbara Harris (mother) and Foster (daughter). B

THE LITTLE GIRL WHO LIVES DOWN THE LANE (1977)
The most striking starring role of her early career — a brainy little chiller that pits a kid with bodies in her basement against a very skeevy Martin Sheen. B+

CANDLESHOE (1977)
She’s a tough-nosed American urchin in England, learning life lessons from Helen Hayes and David Niven. Nothing special, but it’s a pleasant farewell to Disney fare. C+

Character Studies:
Everyone tries on identities as they mature, and Foster spent the ’80s playing intriguingly with her image, reaching for parts that could seem farfetched on paper and, unfortunately, sometimes stayed that way. But the process was fascinating; few actors have had the confidence to ask, ”Who am I?” so publicly.

FOXES (1980)
As the most together of four Valley gals, she helps her friends negotiate teen perils ranging from acne to drug addiction in Adrian Lyne’s debut feature. B-

CARNY (1980)
Foster plays a small-town teen who runs off with the carnival and ends up caught between Gary Busey and Robbie Robertson. By movie’s end, she’s a seasoned carny pro — and a grown-up big-screen presence. B+

O’HARA’S WIFE (1982)
She got sidetracked in the thankless role of a worrywart daughter in this wimpy drama about a widower dad (Ed Asner) whose wife (Mariette Hartley) comes back as a ghost. C-

SVENGALI (1983)
Foster plays it straight as an aspiring rock singer, but Peter O’Toole overdoes it as a faded musical star who becomes her mentor/lover. Their failure to connect is far from the biggest problem with this thoroughly phony TV movie. C-

THE BLOOD OF OTHERS (1984)
What a pedigree: adapted from a Simone de Beauvoir novel, directed by Claude Chabrol, with heroine Foster as a WWII resistance fighter. What a dog. Glaringly American among all the Frenchness, Foster has never been more miscast. D-

THE HOTEL NEW HAMPSHIRE (1984)
As a teenage sister and brother in love, Foster and Rob Lowe are actually the least maladjusted members of a disaster-prone family. Adapted from John Irving’s offbeat novel, the film stays emotionally grounded on the strength of its performances. B-

MESMERIZED (1986)
A.k.a. Shocked. Jodie Foster as a repressed husband killer in a true-crime movie set in 1880s New Zealand? Pretty interesting. Pretty silly, too. John Lithgow plays the unlucky stiff. C-

SIESTA (1987)
She plays a faintly kinky British playgirl who befriends Ellen Barkin during a strange sojourn in Spain. But her character is all show, no substance — just like the movie. C

FIVE CORNERS (1987)
A neighborhood slice o’ life that works magic via a loopy script from John Patrick Shanley (Moonstruck), a terrifying performance by John Turturro, and Foster’s easy authority. B+

STEALING HOME (1988)
Foster has a fine, hard grace teaching baseballer Mark Harmon all about life. Too bad her character spends most of the movie dead in an urn. C

Out of Chrysalis:
With The Accused, Jodie Foster made it clear that she could have claimed mass stardom anytime she wanted. With Little Man Tate, she made it clear that she wants a whole lot more.

THE ACCUSED (1988)
While audiences had always liked her, Foster’s unsentimental performance as a gang-rape victim brought people fully alive to her skills. A deserved Best Actress Oscar. A-

BACKTRACK (1991)
An enjoyably demented walk on the weird side, with Foster as a murder witness who falls for the hit man (Dennis Hopper, who also directed) sent to rub her out. They’re not exactly the couple next door. B

THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991)
Clarice Starling is one of her most reactive roles (co-Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins got all the face-biting showy stuff), but Foster, as the novice fed tracking a serial killer, has never seemed more subtle or in command. A-

LITTLE MAN TATE (1991)
A directorial debut notable for its playful visual touches and an immense sympathy toward child geniuses that could only have come from someone who knows the turf. B+

SHADOWS AND FOG (1992)
She’s part of a classy ensemble of prostitutes that includes Lily Tomlin and Kathy Bates. Their discussion about what men really want is a highlight of this subpar Woody Allen effort. C+

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