- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
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sex. without sex.
Tennessee Williams, like his homosexual former century kindred writer, Oscar Wilde, liked to poke satirical fun at his own class and generation. As a young Catholic, this film was "off limits". So when I was old enough to pay to see it, I was disappointed that you don't get to see much of Carol Baker, who was he alternate Marilyn Monroe at the time. She was a much better actress than MM, I think her best film was Big Country where she plays opposite Gregory Peck.As an senior citizen I long for the films that were intensely sexual, without all the raw naked obligatory sex.This film is typical Williams, in that its about the take over of an old southern plantation by a Yankee, who was not even a Yankee, but a Sicilian. I doubt many younger audiences would find this film worth their time, because its B & W, and nobody gets killed, unless you want to count Karl Malden's dignity.One of Elia Kazan's trademarks was using actual townspeople in bit roles. Its a revelation how the "real" people, in this case, the county sheriff, doesn't sound at all like a typical Hollywood version of a dumb southern sheriff. In this case, the real sheriff hesitantly arrests Malden because he is driven insane by the idea that his promised child wife to be has apparently fallen in love, and has carnal knowledge of him. Although ionly half of that is true, it still is enough to drive Malden to attempted murder, for which he must be arrested, however hesitatingly by the sheriff.
Next to the Germany that took 2 world wars to smash, the American South is another favorite on Hollywood's 'hit degrade'.
Characters and Story Depressing Overall
Maybe it's because the film is dated, but, overall, I found it depressing. Carroll Baker's pathetic "Baby Doll" character sleeps in a youth bed (basically a 3-sided crib), sucks her thumb, but sexually and otherwise taunts and insults her equally-pathetic husband, Archie, played by Karl Malden. By agreement with his father in law to whom he paid cash for the privilege of marriage, Archie is required to refrain from having sex with Baby Doll until her 20th birthday, so he resorts to constructing a bathroom peep hole through which he engages in voyeurism while Baby Doll is in the bathroom. They live in a dirty, run-down Civil War era former plantation house with sparse furnishings with assorted people living on the grounds, including Baby Doll's elderly, incompetent aunt, portrayed by Mildred Dunnock. Archie runs an outdated cotton gin and to prevent his competitor from taking business away, sets fire to his business. The competitor is played by Eli Wallach, who seduces Baby Doll. There are no heroes in this story, no redemption for anyone, no uplifting theme, just pathetic poverty, lust, manipulation and criminal behavior. Did I also mention rampant racism? It's there, too.
A great movie and cast. Play it again.
I know some people find parts of the film offensive, however, it accurately portrays the attitudes of some people in America at the time and even today. I like this movie for the fact that it acts like a mirror. We may get glimpses of ourselves we don't like. I believe it reaches anybody who watches it on a personal level. It is not meant to be pretty or sugar coated, it is meant to portray human nature in a real and sometimes ugly way. I understand why people don't like this film. I like this fillm for its rawness and that it is character driven. I like how the tension builds and holds you to the end of the film. I believe this is a true American classic.
CLASSIC WILLIAMS, CLASSIC MOVIE
- Michael O'Farrell
"Baby Doll" , a notorious movie of the mid 1950s that was attacked by the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church and "condemned" by the then All powerful Legion of Decency, the RC's attempt to intimidate their flock from seeing immoral, aka "dirty" movies, is a landmark american film whose tortuous history belies the fact that it is not only one of the truly great films of the twentieth century but also one of the greatest comedies ever put on the screen. Groundbreaking in its time for its depiction of male lust, candid carnality, jealousy and greed, "Baby Doll" is a compelling Southern Gothic melodrama/comedy that ultimately ends on a poignant note.Today this movie stands tall, a genuine masterwork brilliantly directed by Elia Kazan with playwright Tennesse Williams adapting two of his short plays into a brilliant comedy of manners that may look like Tobacco Road but has its own unmistakable Williams stamp written all over it. It may well be the finest screen adaptation from stage to screen of all the playwright's works.Carroll Baker's performance as the "child bride" Baby Doll is perfection, one of the all time great comic, and dramatic performances ever enacted on the screen. I don't think it's overstating the case that it's a performance that rivals the very best, including Vivien Leigh's Scarlett O'Hara: it's that iconic a performance. Karl Malden as the much beleaguered Archie Lee matches Baker all the way with a hugely impressive performance as a seemingly country bumpkin type : frustrated, possessive, a much older husband with "only one thing on his mind" but Malden gives the character a great human touch that prevents Archie from being just a broad, cartoon-type character. And Eli Wallach, one of the all time great character actors making a triumphant screen debut as Malden's nemesis and rivals for Baker's affections scorches the screen with his volatility and in the seduction scenes that are unlike anything depicted in American Cinema in '56.
Kazan used real townspeople as extras. They had some speaking roles, and you could spot them easily, but Kazan the Director, picked the right ones to get the effect he wanted. As some have noted, not one kiss passes between Baby Doll and anyone, either husband, or the unwanted "guy from out of town" or not even the Real American. This role played by Eli Wallach, an ethnic Jew, playing a Sicilian is probably the heart of this film. Wiliams novel could not have shown a more graphic example of the native southerner, whose family must have seen better times. The house, the broken down car in the yard, and Malden's character just full of desperation. His mill needed a part. Baker, promised to him by her father when she came of age, obviously was sexually interested in the "Dago". (OK for me to use that perjorative. I am a FBI.). New films should take note. Sex does not mean a handbook of positions to display passion. Obviously, it was driving Malden out of his mind. Its amazing that the Catholic Church put this on its list of films Catholics were not allowed to see. (OK to say that, I'm a Catholic). Needlessly to say, me and my buddies were disappointed teens when we went and didn't see any skin.I didn't give the film 5 stars because it was a little too over the top. As someone living in the south, Malden would not have missed Wallach. If a southerner had a shotgun, he knew how to use it. Ok to say that, I'm I Southerner.
Not my fav project by Tennessee Williams
- Dana M.
But I think he really liked to push buttons. It was okay.What I do find interesting is that other reviewers challenged one reviewer's opinion on the sensitive subject matter. I believe everyone has the right to their opinion. I have seen this happen in forums, but I find it a little odd in this instance - it was someone's review, not a discussion.
Ending like Gone With The Wind
- Maureen vv
The ending of the movie was exactly like Gone with the Wind. They even had a close up of Carroll Baker's face. There was some sexual tension between Baker and Wallach during the movie but that's all. The "niggar" word was used a few times but that's the language they used. The fire scene put some "action" in the movie but otherwise it was slow moving.
- Susan Mitchell
I love this film and how it captures the south in the forties and fifties. Outsiders are frowned upon; the southern tradition and values must be preserved at all cost. The home is so symbolic of what was happening to southern traditions. I also found "Babydoll's" character so interesting. She was vulnerable, strong, smart, dumb, the total oxymoron depiction of the southern woman. This film should be viewed in a Women's Literature class. LOVED IT.
Tennesse William's finest!
- Victoria Pence
I saw this movie when it was show recently on TCM; I had never seen it, and I thought it was Tennesse William's finest adaptation to film! Previous commenters who were offended by the language and/or situation have to understand the time period of the story. I came to the South when I was about the age of 'Baby Doll', having been raised in the 1960's and 70's on the West Coast. I had little understanding (atleast first hand) of the Civil Rights and post Civil Rights era...using the 'n' word in my house growing up would have gotten me a bar of soap in my mouth! But, after reading and listening to those who lived through that period in the South, I began to gain some understanding. It was not a 'pretty' time; but making the movie without the realities that existed then would be like making a movie about Hitler's Germany without showing the Holocaust!!
Excellent portrayal of a different era.
- Robert Hutchins
An excellent portrayal of the South in an earlier era. I noted that a previous viewer objected to the use of the "n" word, and also that Malden's character was almost a pedophile.Remember, this film was made in 1956. So try to keep an open mind and remember that it was not uncommon for middle aged men to wed much younger women then, and also for black people to be referred to in that fashion.
I tried to like/watch it
It's touchy - The husband is a borderline pedophile. However, I gave up on this film when a character used the "n" word. I don't find it entertaining to watch films/shows that are racially offensive. I will only tolerate it if the subject is of a documentary nature or the subject is pro-change; civil rights, anti-nazism, etc.So I would never watch nor recommend this title.
I knew immediately this was a Tennessee Williams play. Great Film was funny in a weird sort of way and i really liked the interesting musical score which had a pre sixities goovy feel to it. Would like to see this paired with Lolita very interesting film had lots of issues which were thought provoking. The portrayal of African Americans was interesting to me too
Um filme polmico e ousado para os padres conservadores da poca. Uma maravilha de Elia Kazan.
I enjoyed this movie very much..a little bit odd at first, but at the end..I loved it!
- Henry Hoffman
BABY DOLL is a superbly acted film, (directed by one of the best director-of-actors Elia Kazan), who are working within a rough & holy (but funny) interplay of sexual politics, complete w/ a dollop of the southern mystique. Karl Malden's last struggle w/ its convolutions of a maddening but incomplete sexual drive, the alcoholism & revenge is particularly compelling. When Mr. Malden came down to Illinois State in 1971 to conduct a workshop for the actors in my production of Ionesco's THE KILLER (he was a rivetingly precise communicator), he brought a print of BABY DOLL w/ him to show us, because (he said) he thought it to be his best screen work.
Wild, Wild Tennessee Williams
- Bruce Reber
"Baby Doll" absolutely has to be the wildest and most bizarre film ever adapted from a Tennessee Williams play. There must have been many problems concerning the PCA in making the film version of Williams'play about a child-like woman's relationship with her husband and a cotton farmer. I have seen almost all of the film adaptations of Williams' plays, and I would rate "Baby Doll" as my least favorite, despite Elia Kazan's direction and a superb cast featurng Eli Wallach, Karl Malden and Carroll Baker. Definitely not in the same class as "Streetcar Named Desire", "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof", etc.