Baby Doll


1h 54m 1956
Baby Doll

Brief Synopsis

A child bride holds her husband at bay while flirting with a sexy Italian farmer.

Film Details

Also Known As
Mississippi Woman, Tennessee Williams' Baby Doll, Twenty-Seven Wagon Loads of Cotton
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Black Comedy
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Dec 29, 1956
Premiere Information
New York opening: 18 Dec 1956; Los Angeles opening: 26 Dec 1956
Production Company
Newtown Productions, Inc.; Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Benoit, Mississippi, United States; Greenville, Mississippi, United States; New York City, New York, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play 27 Wagons Full of Cotton by Tennessee Williams (New York, 19 Apr 1955).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 54m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System), Stereo
Color
Black and White

Synopsis

In the Mississippi Delta region, nineteen-year-old Baby Doll lives unhappily with her husband, Archie Lee Meighan, a middle-aged, down-on-his-luck cotton gin owner. Archie cannot afford to repair the decrepit antebellum mansion, Fox Tail, that the couple inhabits, and the Ideal Pay-as-You-Go furniture company is threatening to repossess their meager household belongings, thus giving Baby Doll more and more reason to malign Archie's masculinity. When Baby Doll was betrothed to Archie on her father's death bed, the dying man made Archie promise not to deflower the girl until her twentieth birthday, and with her birthday just two days away, Archie is anxious to make Baby Doll his wife "for real." As the childlike Baby Doll sleeps in her crib sucking her thumb, Archie tries to drill a hole in the wall in order to spy on her. Baby Doll awakes furious, and later during her bath, she becomes even more enraged when Archie tries to grab her. The next day, in town, while Archie is seeing his doctor about his sexual troubles, Baby Doll, determined to get a job, flirts with a young dentist who is looking for a secretary. As the couple returns to Fox Tail, they see the furniture being taken away, prompting Baby Doll to announce her desire to leave Archie and move to the Cotton King Motel.

Meanwhile, Silva Vacarro, a Sicilian immigrant and the owner of the new cotton gin that has taken away all of Archie's business, gives his employees a fish fry to celebrate their first successful crop. As the festivities, which include a speech by a senator, ensue, a drunken Archie sets fire to Vacarro's cotton gin, burning it to the ground. Vacarro tries to tell the police that he was a victim of arson, but they treat him as an outsider and refuse to investigate.

The next morning, Vacarro brings his twenty-seven loads of cotton to Archie's gin, and Archie is overjoyed to have the business. As Archie tends to the cotton, however, Vacarro meets Baby Doll and flirts with her in order to get information about Archie's whereabouts the night before. After Baby Doll reveals that Archie had indeed left her alone in the house on the previous evening, she grows suspicious of Vacarro, but he tickles and flirts with her to coax her to talk. Baby Doll gets nervous and goes to the gin to find Archie, but he slaps her and tells her not to go "where niggers are working." Vacarro is disgusted at the state of Archie's equipment and is furious that the work has not yet been started. He orders Archie to find a new belt for the cotton gin, but when Archie leaves, he is chased by a hysterical Baby Doll, who does not want to be left alone with Vacarro.

After Vacarro's assistant informs him that they already have the belt, Vacarro approaches a weeping Baby Doll, who is upset because her live-in aunt, Rose Comfort, has left the house to go to the county hospital, where she satisfies her passion for sweets by visiting dying patients and eating their chocolate candies. Baby Doll explains her marital situation to a surprised Vacarro and then declares that her "being ready" depends on whether or not the furniture comes back. Baby Doll goes to make lemonade, telling Vacarro to wait on the front porch, but he sneaks into the house and begins to make ghost noises to scare her. When she locks herself in her bedroom, he makes the lemonade himself. The pair then begin a riotous game of tag and hide-and-seek, and Baby Doll locks herself in the attic. Annoyed, Vacarro tells Baby Doll that he will break the door down unless she signs the affidavit that he has prepared regarding Archie's guilt. He breaks in, and Baby Doll screams, fearing that the rickety floor of the attic will cave in. She tearfully signs the paper, then as Vacarro is about to leave, she offers to let him take a nap in her baby crib.

Archie, meanwhile, is treated badly at the parts shop because he has no money and has to pay for the part with his gold watch. After he hurries back to the cotton gin and discovers that the repair has already been made, he returns home, only to be accused of arson by Baby Doll. She announces that their agreement is over, then Vacarro appears. Baby Doll reveals that Vacarro has decided not to rebuild his gin, but will bring the cotton to Archie's gin and have Baby Doll entertain him while it is being processed. Archie, confused, tells Vacarro to stay for supper while he considers his proposal.

While Archie is on the phone, Baby Doll and Vacarro kiss, and then Archie, suspicious and angry, begins to scream at Aunt Rose to bring in the food. Archie decides to fire Aunt Rose, whom he claims has overstayed her welcome, but he is perplexed when Vacarro hires the teary-eyed old woman as his cook. Archie finally accuses the pair of having cheated on him, but Vacarro swears that he came for only one thing, the signed affidavit. Archie then calls Vacarro a "wop" and grabs his rifle. After Vacarro hides outside in a tree, Baby Doll calls the police and joins Vacarro in the tree. Archie, frustrated and exhausted after his rampage, finally breaks down in tears crying out Baby Doll's name.

Once the police arrive and take the gun away from Archie, Vacarro emerges and shows them the affidavit, threatening to take it to the county sheriff. Before leaving, Vacarro promises to return the next day with more cotton. The town marshal then informs Archie that they must go through with his arrest for "appearances sake," and Archie watches Baby Doll go back to the house as midnight strikes, signaling her twentieth birthday. A transformed Baby Doll tells Aunt Rose that they will have to wait until the next day to see if they will be remembered or forgotten by the tall, dark stranger.

Film Details

Also Known As
Mississippi Woman, Tennessee Williams' Baby Doll, Twenty-Seven Wagon Loads of Cotton
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Black Comedy
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Dec 29, 1956
Premiere Information
New York opening: 18 Dec 1956; Los Angeles opening: 26 Dec 1956
Production Company
Newtown Productions, Inc.; Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Benoit, Mississippi, United States; Greenville, Mississippi, United States; New York City, New York, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play 27 Wagons Full of Cotton by Tennessee Williams (New York, 19 Apr 1955).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 54m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System), Stereo
Color
Black and White

Award Nominations

Best Actress

1956
Carroll Baker

Best Adapted Screenplay

1956

Best Cinematography

1956

Best Supporting Actress

1956
Mildred Dunnock

Articles

Baby Doll


Never one to shy away from provocative material, director Elia Kazan prevailed upon his frequent stage and screen collaborator Tennessee Williams in the early '50s to tweak a minor one-act play entitled 27 Wagons Full of Cotton for the camera. The end result, Baby Doll (1956), is an amusing and frequently audacious black farce of the Deep South that sent prudes of its day into a lather over material made more innocuous over the passage of time.

The story is set in a dilapidated Southern manse owned by Archie Lee Meighan (Karl Malden), a middle-aged blowhard living in constant anxiety over the imminent failure of his cotton gin business. His tension isn't helped any by his 19-year-old child bride Baby Doll (Carroll Baker), a blonde nymphet who still sleeps in a crib bed and sucks her thumb. As part of the marriage pact designated by her late father, Archie Lee had to set her up in the county's (formerly) finest house, and wait until her 20th birthday before consummating the marriage.

In the meantime, the frustrated husband has to make do with stealing peeks through a hole in the bedroom wall. Worse still for Archie Lee, his connubial arrangements are an open secret with the locals, who can't help but snigger whenever the couple passes by. Archie Lee, at the least, is able to address his economic frustrations when he clandestinely torches the state-of-the-art, conglomerate-owned mill that has siphoned off all revenue from the locally owned gins.

The act of arson understandably does not sit well with Silva Vacarro (Eli Wallach), the Sicilian supervisor of the ruined plant. Not counting on the local authorities for much aid, Silva still has to contend with the cotton that he's obliged to process, and must cut a deal with the closest facility--Meighan's. Hastily heading off to get his gin up to speed, Archie makes the fatal mistake of instructing his young wife to entertain their new business associate.

The slyly seductive Vacarro makes the most of his time teasing and tempting the bored Baby Doll, all the while trying to ferret out the truth about Archie Lee's whereabouts at the time of the fire. Although ultimately getting her to sign off on a written confession, Silva also comes to sympathize with her circumstances as well, leading to explosive consequences when Meighan finally makes his way back home.

Baker had just completed her first screen performance in Giant (1956) when she signed on for Baby Doll; the film was the first for her fellow Actors Studio alumnus Wallach. Both turned in remarkable work; the sexual heat generated during Vacarro's porch swing come-on remains palpable even to this day. Malden, as always, is effective, vesting the blustering, emasculated clod Archie Lee with enough humanity that the viewer can't help but feel sympathy. Also welcome is Mildred Dunnock's dithering maiden aunt whose household presence is barely tolerated by Archie Lee. Look fast for a young Rip Torn making his screen debut.

Baby Doll was shot on location in Benoit, Mississippi, and Kazan integrated many locals into small roles with excellent effect. "They'll direct you," Kazan recounted in Kazan: The Master Director Discusses His Films. "I set up the camera loose enough and told the cameramen to be alert to their spontaneous moves...After all, they're doing you a favor. They don't have to do it. They've got a job. They're beautiful. It sounds like the corniest thing in the world, but they are."

While the reviews were strong, and Oscar® nominations were given to Baker, Dunnock, Williams, and cinematographer Boris Kaufman, Baby Doll's receipts wound up being only middling. This is due in no small part to the admonitions of the Legion of Decency and Cardinal Spellman of New York, both of which were swift in their condemnation of the film and its subject matter. "There'd be one good week, then a quick slide down. I never made a profit," Kazan recounted in his autobiography. "If you were to look at the film now, you'd see a rather amusing comedy and wonder what all the fuss was about."

Producer: Elia Kazan, Tennessee Williams
Director: Elia Kazan
Screenplay: Tennessee Williams
Cinematography: Boris Kaufman
Film Editing: Gene Milford
Art Direction: Richard Sylbert
Music: Kenyon Hopkins
Cast: Karl Malden (Archie Lee Meighan), Carroll Baker (Baby Doll), Eli Wallach (Silva Vacarro), Mildred Dunnock (Aunt Rose Comfort), Lonny Chapman (Rock), Eades Hogue (Town Marshal).
BW-115m.

by Jay S. Steinberg
Baby Doll

Baby Doll

Never one to shy away from provocative material, director Elia Kazan prevailed upon his frequent stage and screen collaborator Tennessee Williams in the early '50s to tweak a minor one-act play entitled 27 Wagons Full of Cotton for the camera. The end result, Baby Doll (1956), is an amusing and frequently audacious black farce of the Deep South that sent prudes of its day into a lather over material made more innocuous over the passage of time. The story is set in a dilapidated Southern manse owned by Archie Lee Meighan (Karl Malden), a middle-aged blowhard living in constant anxiety over the imminent failure of his cotton gin business. His tension isn't helped any by his 19-year-old child bride Baby Doll (Carroll Baker), a blonde nymphet who still sleeps in a crib bed and sucks her thumb. As part of the marriage pact designated by her late father, Archie Lee had to set her up in the county's (formerly) finest house, and wait until her 20th birthday before consummating the marriage. In the meantime, the frustrated husband has to make do with stealing peeks through a hole in the bedroom wall. Worse still for Archie Lee, his connubial arrangements are an open secret with the locals, who can't help but snigger whenever the couple passes by. Archie Lee, at the least, is able to address his economic frustrations when he clandestinely torches the state-of-the-art, conglomerate-owned mill that has siphoned off all revenue from the locally owned gins. The act of arson understandably does not sit well with Silva Vacarro (Eli Wallach), the Sicilian supervisor of the ruined plant. Not counting on the local authorities for much aid, Silva still has to contend with the cotton that he's obliged to process, and must cut a deal with the closest facility--Meighan's. Hastily heading off to get his gin up to speed, Archie makes the fatal mistake of instructing his young wife to entertain their new business associate. The slyly seductive Vacarro makes the most of his time teasing and tempting the bored Baby Doll, all the while trying to ferret out the truth about Archie Lee's whereabouts at the time of the fire. Although ultimately getting her to sign off on a written confession, Silva also comes to sympathize with her circumstances as well, leading to explosive consequences when Meighan finally makes his way back home. Baker had just completed her first screen performance in Giant (1956) when she signed on for Baby Doll; the film was the first for her fellow Actors Studio alumnus Wallach. Both turned in remarkable work; the sexual heat generated during Vacarro's porch swing come-on remains palpable even to this day. Malden, as always, is effective, vesting the blustering, emasculated clod Archie Lee with enough humanity that the viewer can't help but feel sympathy. Also welcome is Mildred Dunnock's dithering maiden aunt whose household presence is barely tolerated by Archie Lee. Look fast for a young Rip Torn making his screen debut. Baby Doll was shot on location in Benoit, Mississippi, and Kazan integrated many locals into small roles with excellent effect. "They'll direct you," Kazan recounted in Kazan: The Master Director Discusses His Films. "I set up the camera loose enough and told the cameramen to be alert to their spontaneous moves...After all, they're doing you a favor. They don't have to do it. They've got a job. They're beautiful. It sounds like the corniest thing in the world, but they are." While the reviews were strong, and Oscar® nominations were given to Baker, Dunnock, Williams, and cinematographer Boris Kaufman, Baby Doll's receipts wound up being only middling. This is due in no small part to the admonitions of the Legion of Decency and Cardinal Spellman of New York, both of which were swift in their condemnation of the film and its subject matter. "There'd be one good week, then a quick slide down. I never made a profit," Kazan recounted in his autobiography. "If you were to look at the film now, you'd see a rather amusing comedy and wonder what all the fuss was about." Producer: Elia Kazan, Tennessee Williams Director: Elia Kazan Screenplay: Tennessee Williams Cinematography: Boris Kaufman Film Editing: Gene Milford Art Direction: Richard Sylbert Music: Kenyon Hopkins Cast: Karl Malden (Archie Lee Meighan), Carroll Baker (Baby Doll), Eli Wallach (Silva Vacarro), Mildred Dunnock (Aunt Rose Comfort), Lonny Chapman (Rock), Eades Hogue (Town Marshal). BW-115m. by Jay S. Steinberg

Baby Doll - Tennessee Williams' BABY DOLL - The Controversial 1956 Film on DVD


Baby Doll is not the kind of movie a major studio would green-light in 1956. Elia Kazan and Tennessee Williams apparently decided to do a ribald tale without the benefit of studio interference or Production Code oversight, and turned out a Christmas attraction that made news ... of the wrong kind. A shocked Cardinal Spellman declared that Baby Doll was Condemned for Catholics ... seeing it was an official sin in the eyes of the church. Distributor Warners ended up pulling Kazan's film from theaters soon afterwards. It was considered the dirtiest picture "Hollywood" ever made, and it ignited a conservative counterattack against smut in the movies that confused producers, artists and audiences until the Ratings system took over in 1968.

Apart from the censorship issue Baby Doll is a delightfully wicked comedy that does indeed spring from an idea that sounds like a dirty joke. Tennessee Williams thought of combining four of his one-act plays (including This Property is Condemned) but ended up with just two. All we need to know is that, "There once was this lecherous cotton gin owner married to a young girl. But he'd promised her father he wouldn't sleep with her until her 20th birthday ..."

Synopsis: Archie Lee Meighan (Karl Malden) is a desperate man. A newer outfit has displaced his cotton gin, and the resulting poverty in his household has his wife Baby Doll (Carroll Baker) threatening to leave him. Her twentieth birthday is only two days away; Archie has promised not to consummate their marriage until then. To keep her, he burns down the competing gin owned by Sicilian immigrant Silva Vacarro (Eli Wallach). Silva turns up at Archie's plant the next day with trucks of cotton to be processed and a very Old-World idea of how to solve his problem: He'll take revenge on Archie through his "innocent" and vulnerable wife.

Despite their protests of innocence, the makers of Baby Doll knew very well that they'd made a Mississippi version of a story suited for Boccaccio's Decameron. The movie has no star power, although future luminaries Carroll Baker and Eli Wallach make their screen debuts -- along with Rip Torn, who gets one scene as a grinning dentist. The main draw is a salacious graphic of Baker in a baby doll pajama lying in a baby's crib. Kazan claimed his movie was about arrested development, not sex. But the image conjures an ad for Jail Bait Quarterly magazine; there are even a pair of Coke bottles in the foreground as visual aids for further fantasies. Cardinal Spellman must have choked when he saw the giant Times Square billboard ... Sodom and Gomorrah had won a foothold on Broadway.

Baby Doll is a special film for all concerned. As it has no wide social issue it's not one of Elia Kazan's later "America" trilogy A Face in the Crowd, Wild River and Splendor in the Grass, but he said he like it better than A Streetcar Named Desire. It's not one of Tennessee Williams' plays, so there are fewer poetic speeches. In a way, it's sort of a black comedy left turn from the world of William Faulkner. The Meighan house is a parody of Southern decay with garbage in the yard, rooms left empty by the furniture re-possessors and a dotty old woman (a Williams fixture, this time played by Mildred Dunnock) trying to cook in the crumbling kitchen. She likes to visit old people in the hospital, so she can eat all of their candy!

Karl Malden's Archie is a cowardly, over-aged cradle robber. What hair he has left is usually flung upward, like a clown's. He can't help but broadcast his impotent whining to his unemployed gin workers, who hang around the property laughing at him. He's practically boiling over with lust, like Wile E. Coyote waving a contract giving him the right to finally catch the Road Runner. Archie's dirty dream falls apart just as it should be coming together -- Baby Doll has no intention of sleeping with him. With Baby Doll humiliating him in public and talking about nullifying their marriage contract, Archie takes drastic measures to improve his financial standing.

Eli Wallach bursts onto the screen as the acting equal of anyone in the Kazan theatrical camp. His Silva Vaccaro is a slick, optimistic Sicilian who understands corruption and is accustomed to making his own justice. In a matter of minutes he has Archie completely on the defensive and in an hour he has a clear field to start working on Baby Doll, to extract an admission of Archie's guilt.

Carroll Baker's Baby Doll is the focus of the film and the characterization that had the Cardinal seeing red. The original poster child for white trash decay, she brings to mind the specter of twelve year-old brides, shotgun weddings and other inbred southern stereotypes. Baby Doll is a technical virgin just learning how powerful sex can be as a tool to manipulate an impatient husband. The image of her in a crib, first seen from a Peeping Tom point of view, is indeed shockingly adult. She's even sucking her thumb, a "baby" function that doesn't make us think of babies. Kazan and company break all the rules when Archie barges uninvited into her bath. Although the action is off-screen, it's not what we expect to see in a 1956 movie.

Tennessee Williams uses the issue of the burned cotton gin to put these three characters in conflict. The business dispute could very well be settled in a short fight but Williams has Silva toy with Baby Doll to bring out the truth. We think first about the impropriety of it all, and then ponder the meaning of seduction. Who is in control, and who is taking advantage of whom? Silva "seduces" Baby Doll in the back seat of a ruined car and on a run-down lawn swing. The sexual excitement of the scene is both funny and disturbing. Again, Baby Doll isn't a minor but the story frames the whole encounter like a statutory rape.

The action upstairs has Silva and Baby Doll playing a lusty game of tease and dazzle, hide and seek (Hide and Seek is said to have been a working title). Silva naps in the baby's crib and it's apparent that nothing happens between them. He obtains the signed statement that Archie's is an arsonist, so the seduction games were only a smart Sicilian ruse ... perhaps. In a later dinner scene right out of a standard "farmer's daughter" tale, Silva remarks that Baby Doll has changed, that she's no longer a child. The exchange makes us think perhaps something did happen earlier in the nursery. They share a serious kiss, just out of eyeshot of the apoplectic Archie. Baby Doll ends with its story up in the air, but its characters have each moved to a new level.

Kazan's total ease with the camera and the Mississippi location are nothing short of remarkable. The script sketches the reality of life in the town without dodging reality. Nobody is shocked at Archie's indiscriminate use of the "N" word, least of all the blacks that laugh openly at his idiocy. Silva is honored by a politician but despised by the local cotton gin owners his modern facility has displaced. Because he's an outsider the local sheriff has no intention of investigating the arson. The law intervenes at the end only in response to Archie's erratic behavior.

Warner's DVD of Baby Doll is actually a Castle Hill presentation not quite up to the quality of the other titles in the set. The non-enhanced 1:33 image is an acceptable but not terrific transfer of an element that shows signs of wear. Dirt and scratches mostly disappear after the first reel. The audio is quite good, with all dialogue clear and Kenyon Hopkins' score heard only sporadically. Kazan peppers the soundtrack with source music, all of it by black performers. A woman sings a few nicely placed bars of "We Shall Not Be Moved," and Baby Doll's phonograph record plays a pre-Elvis rock tune performed by a black musician.

The trailer certainly sells Baby Doll as a sex sensation, and a newsreel clip promoting a block-long New York billboard display shows just how big it is ... the camera can't get back far enough to see it all in one shot. Kazan claims that he thought of it just to annoy the Catholic Legion of Decency.

The main featurette See No Evil scores interviews with all three of the film's stars. Ninety-three year-old Karl Malden remembers how much fun the film was and shares his thoughts about its disastrous reception. Carroll Baker remembers the film with pride but regrets the way its notoriety overshadowed her acting career. She was billed as Carroll "Baby Doll" Baker for years to come. Both she and Eli Wallach claim they were surprised when it was branded as immoral. They also remember how cold it was on location -- note how many of the extras are bundled up tightly even in the daylight. They also assure us that Eli Wallach's unseen hands in the notorious swing scene were down hovering over a space heater, not doing anything to arouse Ms. Baker. Baby Doll caught the full force of the Catholic Legion of Decency ire and became a milestone film for anyone charting the history of censorship in Hollywood. The next sacrificial victim would come nine years later with Billy Wilder's major miscalculation Kiss Me, Stupid.

Some enterprising producer should rush out a sequel, Baby Doll: Fifty Years Later and get these fine actors together again. Maybe the whole thing could take place in a retirement community!

This title is currently unavailable. Explore more Karl Malden titles here.

by Glenn Erickson

Baby Doll - Tennessee Williams' BABY DOLL - The Controversial 1956 Film on DVD

Baby Doll is not the kind of movie a major studio would green-light in 1956. Elia Kazan and Tennessee Williams apparently decided to do a ribald tale without the benefit of studio interference or Production Code oversight, and turned out a Christmas attraction that made news ... of the wrong kind. A shocked Cardinal Spellman declared that Baby Doll was Condemned for Catholics ... seeing it was an official sin in the eyes of the church. Distributor Warners ended up pulling Kazan's film from theaters soon afterwards. It was considered the dirtiest picture "Hollywood" ever made, and it ignited a conservative counterattack against smut in the movies that confused producers, artists and audiences until the Ratings system took over in 1968. Apart from the censorship issue Baby Doll is a delightfully wicked comedy that does indeed spring from an idea that sounds like a dirty joke. Tennessee Williams thought of combining four of his one-act plays (including This Property is Condemned) but ended up with just two. All we need to know is that, "There once was this lecherous cotton gin owner married to a young girl. But he'd promised her father he wouldn't sleep with her until her 20th birthday ..." Synopsis: Archie Lee Meighan (Karl Malden) is a desperate man. A newer outfit has displaced his cotton gin, and the resulting poverty in his household has his wife Baby Doll (Carroll Baker) threatening to leave him. Her twentieth birthday is only two days away; Archie has promised not to consummate their marriage until then. To keep her, he burns down the competing gin owned by Sicilian immigrant Silva Vacarro (Eli Wallach). Silva turns up at Archie's plant the next day with trucks of cotton to be processed and a very Old-World idea of how to solve his problem: He'll take revenge on Archie through his "innocent" and vulnerable wife. Despite their protests of innocence, the makers of Baby Doll knew very well that they'd made a Mississippi version of a story suited for Boccaccio's Decameron. The movie has no star power, although future luminaries Carroll Baker and Eli Wallach make their screen debuts -- along with Rip Torn, who gets one scene as a grinning dentist. The main draw is a salacious graphic of Baker in a baby doll pajama lying in a baby's crib. Kazan claimed his movie was about arrested development, not sex. But the image conjures an ad for Jail Bait Quarterly magazine; there are even a pair of Coke bottles in the foreground as visual aids for further fantasies. Cardinal Spellman must have choked when he saw the giant Times Square billboard ... Sodom and Gomorrah had won a foothold on Broadway. Baby Doll is a special film for all concerned. As it has no wide social issue it's not one of Elia Kazan's later "America" trilogy A Face in the Crowd, Wild River and Splendor in the Grass, but he said he like it better than A Streetcar Named Desire. It's not one of Tennessee Williams' plays, so there are fewer poetic speeches. In a way, it's sort of a black comedy left turn from the world of William Faulkner. The Meighan house is a parody of Southern decay with garbage in the yard, rooms left empty by the furniture re-possessors and a dotty old woman (a Williams fixture, this time played by Mildred Dunnock) trying to cook in the crumbling kitchen. She likes to visit old people in the hospital, so she can eat all of their candy! Karl Malden's Archie is a cowardly, over-aged cradle robber. What hair he has left is usually flung upward, like a clown's. He can't help but broadcast his impotent whining to his unemployed gin workers, who hang around the property laughing at him. He's practically boiling over with lust, like Wile E. Coyote waving a contract giving him the right to finally catch the Road Runner. Archie's dirty dream falls apart just as it should be coming together -- Baby Doll has no intention of sleeping with him. With Baby Doll humiliating him in public and talking about nullifying their marriage contract, Archie takes drastic measures to improve his financial standing. Eli Wallach bursts onto the screen as the acting equal of anyone in the Kazan theatrical camp. His Silva Vaccaro is a slick, optimistic Sicilian who understands corruption and is accustomed to making his own justice. In a matter of minutes he has Archie completely on the defensive and in an hour he has a clear field to start working on Baby Doll, to extract an admission of Archie's guilt. Carroll Baker's Baby Doll is the focus of the film and the characterization that had the Cardinal seeing red. The original poster child for white trash decay, she brings to mind the specter of twelve year-old brides, shotgun weddings and other inbred southern stereotypes. Baby Doll is a technical virgin just learning how powerful sex can be as a tool to manipulate an impatient husband. The image of her in a crib, first seen from a Peeping Tom point of view, is indeed shockingly adult. She's even sucking her thumb, a "baby" function that doesn't make us think of babies. Kazan and company break all the rules when Archie barges uninvited into her bath. Although the action is off-screen, it's not what we expect to see in a 1956 movie. Tennessee Williams uses the issue of the burned cotton gin to put these three characters in conflict. The business dispute could very well be settled in a short fight but Williams has Silva toy with Baby Doll to bring out the truth. We think first about the impropriety of it all, and then ponder the meaning of seduction. Who is in control, and who is taking advantage of whom? Silva "seduces" Baby Doll in the back seat of a ruined car and on a run-down lawn swing. The sexual excitement of the scene is both funny and disturbing. Again, Baby Doll isn't a minor but the story frames the whole encounter like a statutory rape. The action upstairs has Silva and Baby Doll playing a lusty game of tease and dazzle, hide and seek (Hide and Seek is said to have been a working title). Silva naps in the baby's crib and it's apparent that nothing happens between them. He obtains the signed statement that Archie's is an arsonist, so the seduction games were only a smart Sicilian ruse ... perhaps. In a later dinner scene right out of a standard "farmer's daughter" tale, Silva remarks that Baby Doll has changed, that she's no longer a child. The exchange makes us think perhaps something did happen earlier in the nursery. They share a serious kiss, just out of eyeshot of the apoplectic Archie. Baby Doll ends with its story up in the air, but its characters have each moved to a new level. Kazan's total ease with the camera and the Mississippi location are nothing short of remarkable. The script sketches the reality of life in the town without dodging reality. Nobody is shocked at Archie's indiscriminate use of the "N" word, least of all the blacks that laugh openly at his idiocy. Silva is honored by a politician but despised by the local cotton gin owners his modern facility has displaced. Because he's an outsider the local sheriff has no intention of investigating the arson. The law intervenes at the end only in response to Archie's erratic behavior. Warner's DVD of Baby Doll is actually a Castle Hill presentation not quite up to the quality of the other titles in the set. The non-enhanced 1:33 image is an acceptable but not terrific transfer of an element that shows signs of wear. Dirt and scratches mostly disappear after the first reel. The audio is quite good, with all dialogue clear and Kenyon Hopkins' score heard only sporadically. Kazan peppers the soundtrack with source music, all of it by black performers. A woman sings a few nicely placed bars of "We Shall Not Be Moved," and Baby Doll's phonograph record plays a pre-Elvis rock tune performed by a black musician. The trailer certainly sells Baby Doll as a sex sensation, and a newsreel clip promoting a block-long New York billboard display shows just how big it is ... the camera can't get back far enough to see it all in one shot. Kazan claims that he thought of it just to annoy the Catholic Legion of Decency. The main featurette See No Evil scores interviews with all three of the film's stars. Ninety-three year-old Karl Malden remembers how much fun the film was and shares his thoughts about its disastrous reception. Carroll Baker remembers the film with pride but regrets the way its notoriety overshadowed her acting career. She was billed as Carroll "Baby Doll" Baker for years to come. Both she and Eli Wallach claim they were surprised when it was branded as immoral. They also remember how cold it was on location -- note how many of the extras are bundled up tightly even in the daylight. They also assure us that Eli Wallach's unseen hands in the notorious swing scene were down hovering over a space heater, not doing anything to arouse Ms. Baker. Baby Doll caught the full force of the Catholic Legion of Decency ire and became a milestone film for anyone charting the history of censorship in Hollywood. The next sacrificial victim would come nine years later with Billy Wilder's major miscalculation Kiss Me, Stupid. Some enterprising producer should rush out a sequel, Baby Doll: Fifty Years Later and get these fine actors together again. Maybe the whole thing could take place in a retirement community! This title is currently unavailable. Explore more Karl Malden titles here. by Glenn Erickson

The Tennessee Williams Collection - Tennessee Williams' South
Revealing Rarely-Seen Feature Documentary Available as Part of Boxed-Set Collection


The Tennessee Williams Film Collection -- an eight-disc DVD set containing the acclaimed film adaptations of one of America's greatest playwrights - debuts April 11 from Warner Home Video. The collection features the long-awaited DVD debuts of Sweet Bird of Youth, Night of the Iguana, Baby Doll and The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone along with a newly remastered two-disc Special Edition of A Streetcar Named Desire and single disc Deluxe Edition of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Also included is a bonus disc, the rarely seen feature-length documentary, Tennessee Williams' South.

Bonus materials in this collection include new making-of documentaries for each film, plus expert commentaries, never before seen outtakes, rare screen tests with Brando, Rip Torn and Geraldine Page, a radio broadcast with Brando from 1947 and vintage featurettes. Exclusive to the collection is a special bonus disc, Tennessee Williams' South, a feature-length vintage documentary that includes remarkable interviews with Williams in and around New Orleans, plus great scenes from Williams' plays especially filmed for this documentary, including rare footage of Jessica Tandy as Blanche (the role she created in A Streetcar Named Desire) and Maureen Stapleton as Amanda in The Glass Menagerie.

Williams -- from whose pen came stunning unforgettable characters, powerful portraits of the human condition and an incredible vision of life in the South -- stands with Eugene O'Neill and Arthur Miller as one of the three quintessentially eminent American playwrights. Thomas Lanier Williams was born in Columbus, Mississippi, on March 26, 1911 and his southern upbringing was reflected in the subjects, often based on family members, that he chose to write about. He published his first short story at the age of sixteen and his first great Broadway success was The Glass Menagerie, starring Laurette Taylor that won the New York Drama Critics' Circle award in 1945 as the best play of the season.

Williams himself often commented on the violence in his own work, which to him seemed part of the human condition; he was conscious, also, of the violence in his plays. Critics who attacked the "excesses" of Williams' work often were making thinly veiled assaults on his sexuality. Homosexuality was not discussed openly at that time but in Williams' plays the themes of desire and isolation show, among other things, the influence of having grown up gay in a homophobic world.

A Streetcar Named Desire
A Streetcar Named Desire: 2-Disc Special Edition is a celebration of what is, perhaps, Williams' greatest masterpiece. This edition features three minutes of footage that was deleted from the final release version ( and thought lost until its rediscovery in the early 1990s) that underscores, among other things, the sexual tension between Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) and Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando), and Stella Kowalski's (Kim Hunter) passion for husband Stanley. The Legion of Decency required these scenes be cut in order for the film to be released.

A Streetcar Named Desire depicts a culture clash between Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh), a pretentious, fading relic of the Old South, and Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando), a rising member of the industrial, inner-city immigrant class. Blanche is a Southern belle whose pretensions to virtue and culture only thinly mask her nymphomania and alcoholism. Arriving at the house of her sister Stella Kowalski (Kim Hunter), Stella fears Blanche's arrival will upset the balance of her relationship with her husband Stanley, a primal, rough-hewn, brutish and sensual force of nature. He dominates Stella in every way, and she tolerates his offensive crudeness and lack of gentility largely because of her sexual need for him. Stanley's friend and Blanche's would-be suitor Mitch (Karl Malden) is similarly trampled along Blanche and Stanley's collision course. Their final, inevitable confrontation results in Blanche's mental annihilation.

The film won Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Karl Malden), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Vivien Leigh) , Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Kim Hunter), and Best Art Direction -- Set Decoration, Black-and-White. It was also nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Marlon Brando), Best Cinematography, Black-and-White, Best Costume Design, Black-and-White, Best Director, Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, Best Picture, Best Sound Recording and Best Writing, Screenplay. In 1999 the film was selected by the United States Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Special Features Disc One:
- Commentary by Karl Malden and film historian Rudy Behlmer
- Elia Kazan movie trailer gallery
- Subtitles: English, Francais & Espanol (feature film only)

Special Features Disc Two:
- Movie and audio outtakes
- Marlon Brando screen test
- Elia Kazan: A Director's Journey documentary
- 5 new insightful documentaries:
o A Streetcar on Broadway
o A Streetcar in Hollywood
o Desire and Censorship
o North and the South
o An Actor Named Brando

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: REMASTERED DELUXE EDITION

The raw emotions and crackling dialogue of Tennessee Williams' 1955 Pulitzer Prize play rumble like a thunderstorm in this film version whose fiery performances and grown-up themes made it one of 1958's top box-office hits.

Paul Newman earned his first Oscar® nomination as troubled ex-sports hero Brick. In a performance that marked a transition to richer adult roles, Elizabeth Taylor snagged her second. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture. Also starring Burl Ives (repeating his Broadway triumph as mendacity-loathing Big Daddy), Judith Anderson and Jack Carson, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof sizzles.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is the story of a Southern family in crisis, focusing on the turbulent relationship between Maggie the Cat (Elizabeth Taylor) and Brick (Paul Newman), and their interaction with Brick's family over the course of a weekend gathering at the family estate. Brick, an aging football hero, has neglected his wife and further infuriates her by ignoring his brother's attempts to gain control of the family fortune. Although Big Daddy (Burl Ives) has cancer and will not celebrate another birthday, his doctors and his family have conspired to keep this information from him and his wife. His relatives are in attendance and attempt to present themselves in the best possible light, hoping to receive the definitive share of Big Daddy's enormous wealth.

Oscar® nominations were for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Actor (Newman); Best Actress (Taylor), Best Director (Richard Brooks) and Best Cinematography.

Special Features:
- Commentary by biographer Donald Spoto, author of The Kindness of Strangers: The Life of Tennessee Williams
- New featurette Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: Somebody Up There Likes Him
- Theatrical trailer
- Languages: English & Francais
- Subtitles: English, Francais & Espanol (feature film only)

Sweet Bird of Youth
Paul Newman, Geraldine Page, Rip Torn, Madeleine Sherwood and Ed Begley recreated their stage roles in this bravura film version which featured Shirley Knight. Begley won Best Supporting Oscar® and Page and Knight were nominated.

Sex, money, hypocrisy, financial and emotional blackmail are familiar elements in Williams' literary realm and combine powerfully in Sweet Bird of Youth as Chance (Newman) battles his private demons in a desperate bid to redeem his wasted life and recapture his lost sweet bird of youth.

Handsome Chance Wayne (Newman) never found the Hollywood stardom he craved, but he's always been a star with the ladies. Now, back in his sleepy, sweaty Gulf Coast hometown, he's involved with two of them: a washed-up, drug-and-vodka-addled movie queen. And the girl he left behind…and in trouble.

Special Features:
- New featurette Sweet Bird of Youth: Broken Dreams and Damaged People
- Never-before-seen Geraldine Page and Rip Torn screen test
- Theatrical trailer
- Languages: English & Francais
- Subtitles: English, Francais & Espanol (feature film only)

Night of the Iguana
With an outstanding cast headed by Richard Burton, Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr, direction by legendary John Huston and a steamy screenplay, Night of the Iguana pulses with conflicting passions and a surprising edge of knowing humor. Winner of one Academy Award and nominated for three more, the film explores the dark night of one man's soul - and illuminates the difference between dreams and the bittersweet surrender to reality.

In a remote Mexican seacoast town, a defrocked Episcopal priest (Richard Burton), ruined by alcoholism and insanity, struggles to pull his shattered life together. And the three women in his life - an earthy hotel owner (Ava Gardner), an ethereal artist (Deborah Kerr) and a hot-eyed, willful teenager (Sue Lyons) - can help save him. Or destroy him.

Shot just south of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, the tension-filled shoot put that small city on the map. Due in no small part to the presence of non-cast member Elizabeth Taylor, the shooting of the film during 1963 attracted large numbers of paparazzi, made international headlines, and in turn made Puerto Vallarta world-famous.

Special Features:
- Commentary by John Huston
- New featurette The Night of the Iguana: Dangerous Creatures
- Vintage featurette On the Trail of the Iguana
- 1964 premiere highlights
- Theatrical trailers
- Languages: English & Francais
- Subtitles: English, Francais & Espanol (feature film only)

Baby Doll
With Baby Doll, as with A Streetcar Named Desire, director Elia Kazan and writer Tennessee Williams broke new ground in depicting sexual situations - incorporating themes of lust, sexual repression, seduction, and the corruption of the human soul.

Time magazine called the film "just possibly the dirtiest American-made motion picture that has ever been legally exhibited." The film caused a sensation in 1956, also earning condemnation by the then-powerful Legion of Decency and causing Cardinal Spellman to denounce Doll from his pulpit.

Baby Doll earned laurels too: four Academy Award nominations, Golden Globe Awards for Baker and Kazan and a British Academy Award for Wallace. Watch this funny, steamy classic that, as Leonard Martin's Movie Guide proclaims, "still sizzles."

The film centers around cotton-mill owner Archie (Karl Malden) who's going through tough times but at least has his luscious, child-bride (Carroll Baker) with whom he'll be allowed to consummate when she's 20. Rival Silva Vaccaro (Eli Wallach) thinks Archie may have set fire to his mill and takes an erotic form of Sicilian vengeance.

Special Features:
- New featurette Baby Doll: See No Evil
- Baby Doll trailer gallery
- Subtitles: English, Francais & Espanol (feature film only)

The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone
Widow Karen Stone is wealthy and beautiful. Her acting successes are a memory. She lives alone in a luxury apartment overlooking the Roman steps where romantic liaisons take place. And waits. She soon starts an affair with the young and expensive Paolo.

Vivien Leigh and Warren Beatty are lady and lover in this tender adaptation of a Tennessee Williams novella directed by Broadway veteran Jose Quintero. Leigh won her second Oscar® for Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire; their reteaming creates a similar spell - at once romantic, sinister and nearly explosive. Adding spice to the combustion of the two leads are Best Supporting Actress Oscar® nominee Lotte Lenya as a Contessa who "arranges” romances in which she has a financial stake and Coral Browne as Karen's savvy best friend.

Special Features:
- New featurette The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone: I Can't Imagine Tomorrow
- Theatrical trailer
- Languages: English & Francais
- Subtitles: English, Francais & Espanol (feature film only)

The Tennessee Williams Collection - Tennessee Williams' South Revealing Rarely-Seen Feature Documentary Available as Part of Boxed-Set Collection

The Tennessee Williams Film Collection -- an eight-disc DVD set containing the acclaimed film adaptations of one of America's greatest playwrights - debuts April 11 from Warner Home Video. The collection features the long-awaited DVD debuts of Sweet Bird of Youth, Night of the Iguana, Baby Doll and The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone along with a newly remastered two-disc Special Edition of A Streetcar Named Desire and single disc Deluxe Edition of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Also included is a bonus disc, the rarely seen feature-length documentary, Tennessee Williams' South. Bonus materials in this collection include new making-of documentaries for each film, plus expert commentaries, never before seen outtakes, rare screen tests with Brando, Rip Torn and Geraldine Page, a radio broadcast with Brando from 1947 and vintage featurettes. Exclusive to the collection is a special bonus disc, Tennessee Williams' South, a feature-length vintage documentary that includes remarkable interviews with Williams in and around New Orleans, plus great scenes from Williams' plays especially filmed for this documentary, including rare footage of Jessica Tandy as Blanche (the role she created in A Streetcar Named Desire) and Maureen Stapleton as Amanda in The Glass Menagerie. Williams -- from whose pen came stunning unforgettable characters, powerful portraits of the human condition and an incredible vision of life in the South -- stands with Eugene O'Neill and Arthur Miller as one of the three quintessentially eminent American playwrights. Thomas Lanier Williams was born in Columbus, Mississippi, on March 26, 1911 and his southern upbringing was reflected in the subjects, often based on family members, that he chose to write about. He published his first short story at the age of sixteen and his first great Broadway success was The Glass Menagerie, starring Laurette Taylor that won the New York Drama Critics' Circle award in 1945 as the best play of the season. Williams himself often commented on the violence in his own work, which to him seemed part of the human condition; he was conscious, also, of the violence in his plays. Critics who attacked the "excesses" of Williams' work often were making thinly veiled assaults on his sexuality. Homosexuality was not discussed openly at that time but in Williams' plays the themes of desire and isolation show, among other things, the influence of having grown up gay in a homophobic world. A Streetcar Named Desire A Streetcar Named Desire: 2-Disc Special Edition is a celebration of what is, perhaps, Williams' greatest masterpiece. This edition features three minutes of footage that was deleted from the final release version ( and thought lost until its rediscovery in the early 1990s) that underscores, among other things, the sexual tension between Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) and Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando), and Stella Kowalski's (Kim Hunter) passion for husband Stanley. The Legion of Decency required these scenes be cut in order for the film to be released. A Streetcar Named Desire depicts a culture clash between Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh), a pretentious, fading relic of the Old South, and Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando), a rising member of the industrial, inner-city immigrant class. Blanche is a Southern belle whose pretensions to virtue and culture only thinly mask her nymphomania and alcoholism. Arriving at the house of her sister Stella Kowalski (Kim Hunter), Stella fears Blanche's arrival will upset the balance of her relationship with her husband Stanley, a primal, rough-hewn, brutish and sensual force of nature. He dominates Stella in every way, and she tolerates his offensive crudeness and lack of gentility largely because of her sexual need for him. Stanley's friend and Blanche's would-be suitor Mitch (Karl Malden) is similarly trampled along Blanche and Stanley's collision course. Their final, inevitable confrontation results in Blanche's mental annihilation. The film won Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Karl Malden), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Vivien Leigh) , Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Kim Hunter), and Best Art Direction -- Set Decoration, Black-and-White. It was also nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Marlon Brando), Best Cinematography, Black-and-White, Best Costume Design, Black-and-White, Best Director, Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, Best Picture, Best Sound Recording and Best Writing, Screenplay. In 1999 the film was selected by the United States Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry. Special Features Disc One: - Commentary by Karl Malden and film historian Rudy Behlmer - Elia Kazan movie trailer gallery - Subtitles: English, Francais & Espanol (feature film only) Special Features Disc Two: - Movie and audio outtakes - Marlon Brando screen test - Elia Kazan: A Director's Journey documentary - 5 new insightful documentaries: o A Streetcar on Broadway o A Streetcar in Hollywood o Desire and Censorship o North and the South o An Actor Named Brando Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: REMASTERED DELUXE EDITION The raw emotions and crackling dialogue of Tennessee Williams' 1955 Pulitzer Prize play rumble like a thunderstorm in this film version whose fiery performances and grown-up themes made it one of 1958's top box-office hits. Paul Newman earned his first Oscar® nomination as troubled ex-sports hero Brick. In a performance that marked a transition to richer adult roles, Elizabeth Taylor snagged her second. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture. Also starring Burl Ives (repeating his Broadway triumph as mendacity-loathing Big Daddy), Judith Anderson and Jack Carson, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof sizzles. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is the story of a Southern family in crisis, focusing on the turbulent relationship between Maggie the Cat (Elizabeth Taylor) and Brick (Paul Newman), and their interaction with Brick's family over the course of a weekend gathering at the family estate. Brick, an aging football hero, has neglected his wife and further infuriates her by ignoring his brother's attempts to gain control of the family fortune. Although Big Daddy (Burl Ives) has cancer and will not celebrate another birthday, his doctors and his family have conspired to keep this information from him and his wife. His relatives are in attendance and attempt to present themselves in the best possible light, hoping to receive the definitive share of Big Daddy's enormous wealth. Oscar® nominations were for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Actor (Newman); Best Actress (Taylor), Best Director (Richard Brooks) and Best Cinematography. Special Features: - Commentary by biographer Donald Spoto, author of The Kindness of Strangers: The Life of Tennessee Williams - New featurette Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: Somebody Up There Likes Him - Theatrical trailer - Languages: English & Francais - Subtitles: English, Francais & Espanol (feature film only) Sweet Bird of Youth Paul Newman, Geraldine Page, Rip Torn, Madeleine Sherwood and Ed Begley recreated their stage roles in this bravura film version which featured Shirley Knight. Begley won Best Supporting Oscar® and Page and Knight were nominated. Sex, money, hypocrisy, financial and emotional blackmail are familiar elements in Williams' literary realm and combine powerfully in Sweet Bird of Youth as Chance (Newman) battles his private demons in a desperate bid to redeem his wasted life and recapture his lost sweet bird of youth. Handsome Chance Wayne (Newman) never found the Hollywood stardom he craved, but he's always been a star with the ladies. Now, back in his sleepy, sweaty Gulf Coast hometown, he's involved with two of them: a washed-up, drug-and-vodka-addled movie queen. And the girl he left behind…and in trouble. Special Features: - New featurette Sweet Bird of Youth: Broken Dreams and Damaged People - Never-before-seen Geraldine Page and Rip Torn screen test - Theatrical trailer - Languages: English & Francais - Subtitles: English, Francais & Espanol (feature film only) Night of the Iguana With an outstanding cast headed by Richard Burton, Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr, direction by legendary John Huston and a steamy screenplay, Night of the Iguana pulses with conflicting passions and a surprising edge of knowing humor. Winner of one Academy Award and nominated for three more, the film explores the dark night of one man's soul - and illuminates the difference between dreams and the bittersweet surrender to reality. In a remote Mexican seacoast town, a defrocked Episcopal priest (Richard Burton), ruined by alcoholism and insanity, struggles to pull his shattered life together. And the three women in his life - an earthy hotel owner (Ava Gardner), an ethereal artist (Deborah Kerr) and a hot-eyed, willful teenager (Sue Lyons) - can help save him. Or destroy him. Shot just south of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, the tension-filled shoot put that small city on the map. Due in no small part to the presence of non-cast member Elizabeth Taylor, the shooting of the film during 1963 attracted large numbers of paparazzi, made international headlines, and in turn made Puerto Vallarta world-famous. Special Features: - Commentary by John Huston - New featurette The Night of the Iguana: Dangerous Creatures - Vintage featurette On the Trail of the Iguana - 1964 premiere highlights - Theatrical trailers - Languages: English & Francais - Subtitles: English, Francais & Espanol (feature film only) Baby Doll With Baby Doll, as with A Streetcar Named Desire, director Elia Kazan and writer Tennessee Williams broke new ground in depicting sexual situations - incorporating themes of lust, sexual repression, seduction, and the corruption of the human soul. Time magazine called the film "just possibly the dirtiest American-made motion picture that has ever been legally exhibited." The film caused a sensation in 1956, also earning condemnation by the then-powerful Legion of Decency and causing Cardinal Spellman to denounce Doll from his pulpit. Baby Doll earned laurels too: four Academy Award nominations, Golden Globe Awards for Baker and Kazan and a British Academy Award for Wallace. Watch this funny, steamy classic that, as Leonard Martin's Movie Guide proclaims, "still sizzles." The film centers around cotton-mill owner Archie (Karl Malden) who's going through tough times but at least has his luscious, child-bride (Carroll Baker) with whom he'll be allowed to consummate when she's 20. Rival Silva Vaccaro (Eli Wallach) thinks Archie may have set fire to his mill and takes an erotic form of Sicilian vengeance. Special Features: - New featurette Baby Doll: See No Evil - Baby Doll trailer gallery - Subtitles: English, Francais & Espanol (feature film only) The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone Widow Karen Stone is wealthy and beautiful. Her acting successes are a memory. She lives alone in a luxury apartment overlooking the Roman steps where romantic liaisons take place. And waits. She soon starts an affair with the young and expensive Paolo. Vivien Leigh and Warren Beatty are lady and lover in this tender adaptation of a Tennessee Williams novella directed by Broadway veteran Jose Quintero. Leigh won her second Oscar® for Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire; their reteaming creates a similar spell - at once romantic, sinister and nearly explosive. Adding spice to the combustion of the two leads are Best Supporting Actress Oscar® nominee Lotte Lenya as a Contessa who "arranges” romances in which she has a financial stake and Coral Browne as Karen's savvy best friend. Special Features: - New featurette The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone: I Can't Imagine Tomorrow - Theatrical trailer - Languages: English & Francais - Subtitles: English, Francais & Espanol (feature film only)

ELIA KAZAN, 1909-2003


Elia Kazan, one of the modern greats of American film and stage, and whose tremendous artistry in both mediums were overshadowed by his testimony to HUAC during the '50s, died on September 28 of natural causes at his home in New York City. He was 94.

Kazan was born Elias Kazanjoglou in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) on September 7, 1909. In 1913, he immigrated with his parents to New York City, where his father sold rugs for a living. At age 17, Kazan enrolled in Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. After graduation, he went to Yale University's School of Drama, where he studied musical theater and began acting and directing plays.

In 1932, Kazan joined New York's socialist minded Group Theatre as an actor and assistant manager. At the time, the Group Theatre was the epicenter for radical thought and activity in the arts. Kazan befriended such notable theater personalities as Lee Strasberg, Harold Clurman, Stella Adler and Clifford Odets. Kazan even joined the Communist party for two years (1934-36), before resigning because of his disillusionment with its leadership.

After his stint in New York, Kazan went to Hollywood, where he found work as an actor in two Warner Brothers films: City for Conquest (1940) and Blues in the Night (1941). He made his Broadway debut in 1942, directing Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth with Tallulah Bankhead; Fredric March and Montgomery Clift. It was a huge hit. After that success, it was back to Hollywood, this time as a director for Darryl F. Zanuck at 20th Century Fox. Kazan's directorial film debut was the poignant A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945), based on Betty Smith's bestseller about tenement life. From the beginning, Kazan proved his talent for enticing natural performances from his actors; James Dunn and Peggy Ann Garner both won deserved Oscars for their work in this film.

1947 would prove to be a breakthrough year for Kazan. He notched two huge hits on Broadway: Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire and Arthur Miller's All My Sons; co-founded the Actors Studio with Lee Strasburg, a leading proponent of "Method" acting that is still widely practiced today; and two potent treatise on anti-Semitism Boomerang and Gentleman's Agreement, the latter earning Kazan his first Oscar. Kazan's next few films were not among his best, but they were well crafted and interesting: Pinky (1949), the story of a light-skinned black woman who passes for white (hampered by Jeanne Crain in the lead); and Panic in the Streets (1950), a taut thriller about efforts to contain a burgeoning epidemic which was shot entirely on the streets of New Orleans.

It wasn't until he brought Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire to the big screen that Kazan had a major impact on American cinema. Featuring an explosive Marlon Brando in the role of Stanley Kowalski, the films' raw sensuality brought a stark and galvanizing realism to cinema that simply hadn't happened before. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) not only earned Kazan another Oscar nod for Best Director, but it made a star out of Brando and earned best acting honors for the rest of the cast: Vivien Leigh, Karl Malden and Kim Hunter.

It was around this time that Kazan testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). On April 10, 1952, he informed on former associates from the Group Theater, including Clifford Odets, Lillian Hellman, John Garfield, and Lee and Paula Strasberg. Despite formal protests from many acquaintances from his past, including Odets and Arthur Miller, Kazan remained unapologetic to the end for his actions, and he would remain questioned by social critics for the remainder of his life.

Kazan continued his association with Brando in Viva Zapata! (1952), and then in the powerful On the Waterfront (1954), which took eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and a second Best Director Oscar for Kazan. Budd Schulberg's incisive drama about the corruption of longshoremen's unions was the perfect subject matter for Kazan's ever trenchant approach to social consciousness and cinematic naturalism.

Kazan's next effort, based on John Steinbeck's East of Eden (1955) featured James Dean in his first major role. Kazan's continued ability to draw such raw, vulnerable performances out of his actors (as exemplified by Dean) drew critical praise from all quarters, and the film still stands today as one of the most searing looks of a family in conflict.

After East of Eden, Kazan would never quite scale the artistic heights of his previous movies, yet he still came up with some first-rate cinema: the steamy, boldly suggestive Baby Doll (1956), with a thumb sucking Carol Baker as a provocative child bride; an early, superior look at populist demagoguery A Face in the Crowd (1957) with Andy Griffith giving the performance of his career as a corrupt media darling; the moving coming-of-age drama Splendor in the Grass (1961) starring Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty; the evocative America, America (1963), based on the experiences of Kazan's own uncle's immigration experience; and his final film The Last Tycoon (1976) an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's unfinished final novel, which starred Robert De Niro.

Kazan was in retirement for several years, but he made a notorious return to the limelight when in 1999, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' decided to give Kazan an honorary Oscar® for lifetime achievement. It was a decision met with vocal protests from aging blacklisted artists as well as younger activists. At the time of the presentation, several audience members would not stand up as a form of protest. Still, Kazan attended the ceremonies, thanked friends and family, avoided political discussion, and went home, a most dignified handling of a very controversial moment. Besides his widow, Frances Rudge, Kazan is survived by his sons, Leo, Marco, and Nicholas, a screenwriter who was nominated for an Oscar for Reversal of Fortune (1990); daughters Judy and Katharine; and several grandchildren.

by Michael T. Toole

ELIA KAZAN, 1909-2003

Elia Kazan, one of the modern greats of American film and stage, and whose tremendous artistry in both mediums were overshadowed by his testimony to HUAC during the '50s, died on September 28 of natural causes at his home in New York City. He was 94. Kazan was born Elias Kazanjoglou in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) on September 7, 1909. In 1913, he immigrated with his parents to New York City, where his father sold rugs for a living. At age 17, Kazan enrolled in Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. After graduation, he went to Yale University's School of Drama, where he studied musical theater and began acting and directing plays. In 1932, Kazan joined New York's socialist minded Group Theatre as an actor and assistant manager. At the time, the Group Theatre was the epicenter for radical thought and activity in the arts. Kazan befriended such notable theater personalities as Lee Strasberg, Harold Clurman, Stella Adler and Clifford Odets. Kazan even joined the Communist party for two years (1934-36), before resigning because of his disillusionment with its leadership. After his stint in New York, Kazan went to Hollywood, where he found work as an actor in two Warner Brothers films: City for Conquest (1940) and Blues in the Night (1941). He made his Broadway debut in 1942, directing Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth with Tallulah Bankhead; Fredric March and Montgomery Clift. It was a huge hit. After that success, it was back to Hollywood, this time as a director for Darryl F. Zanuck at 20th Century Fox. Kazan's directorial film debut was the poignant A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945), based on Betty Smith's bestseller about tenement life. From the beginning, Kazan proved his talent for enticing natural performances from his actors; James Dunn and Peggy Ann Garner both won deserved Oscars for their work in this film. 1947 would prove to be a breakthrough year for Kazan. He notched two huge hits on Broadway: Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire and Arthur Miller's All My Sons; co-founded the Actors Studio with Lee Strasburg, a leading proponent of "Method" acting that is still widely practiced today; and two potent treatise on anti-Semitism Boomerang and Gentleman's Agreement, the latter earning Kazan his first Oscar. Kazan's next few films were not among his best, but they were well crafted and interesting: Pinky (1949), the story of a light-skinned black woman who passes for white (hampered by Jeanne Crain in the lead); and Panic in the Streets (1950), a taut thriller about efforts to contain a burgeoning epidemic which was shot entirely on the streets of New Orleans. It wasn't until he brought Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire to the big screen that Kazan had a major impact on American cinema. Featuring an explosive Marlon Brando in the role of Stanley Kowalski, the films' raw sensuality brought a stark and galvanizing realism to cinema that simply hadn't happened before. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) not only earned Kazan another Oscar nod for Best Director, but it made a star out of Brando and earned best acting honors for the rest of the cast: Vivien Leigh, Karl Malden and Kim Hunter. It was around this time that Kazan testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). On April 10, 1952, he informed on former associates from the Group Theater, including Clifford Odets, Lillian Hellman, John Garfield, and Lee and Paula Strasberg. Despite formal protests from many acquaintances from his past, including Odets and Arthur Miller, Kazan remained unapologetic to the end for his actions, and he would remain questioned by social critics for the remainder of his life. Kazan continued his association with Brando in Viva Zapata! (1952), and then in the powerful On the Waterfront (1954), which took eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and a second Best Director Oscar for Kazan. Budd Schulberg's incisive drama about the corruption of longshoremen's unions was the perfect subject matter for Kazan's ever trenchant approach to social consciousness and cinematic naturalism. Kazan's next effort, based on John Steinbeck's East of Eden (1955) featured James Dean in his first major role. Kazan's continued ability to draw such raw, vulnerable performances out of his actors (as exemplified by Dean) drew critical praise from all quarters, and the film still stands today as one of the most searing looks of a family in conflict. After East of Eden, Kazan would never quite scale the artistic heights of his previous movies, yet he still came up with some first-rate cinema: the steamy, boldly suggestive Baby Doll (1956), with a thumb sucking Carol Baker as a provocative child bride; an early, superior look at populist demagoguery A Face in the Crowd (1957) with Andy Griffith giving the performance of his career as a corrupt media darling; the moving coming-of-age drama Splendor in the Grass (1961) starring Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty; the evocative America, America (1963), based on the experiences of Kazan's own uncle's immigration experience; and his final film The Last Tycoon (1976) an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's unfinished final novel, which starred Robert De Niro. Kazan was in retirement for several years, but he made a notorious return to the limelight when in 1999, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' decided to give Kazan an honorary Oscar® for lifetime achievement. It was a decision met with vocal protests from aging blacklisted artists as well as younger activists. At the time of the presentation, several audience members would not stand up as a form of protest. Still, Kazan attended the ceremonies, thanked friends and family, avoided political discussion, and went home, a most dignified handling of a very controversial moment. Besides his widow, Frances Rudge, Kazan is survived by his sons, Leo, Marco, and Nicholas, a screenwriter who was nominated for an Oscar for Reversal of Fortune (1990); daughters Judy and Katharine; and several grandchildren. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

The Legion of Decency, an organization of the Roman Catholic Church in the US, condemned the film as immoral, and despite the efforts of director Elia Kazan, were able to get it withdrawn from release.

Tennessee Williams' first choice for the title role of Baby Doll was Marilyn Monroe, (who was straining to improve herself as an actress at the time and wanted the role badly), although director Kazan preferred newcomer Carroll Baker, whose work he was familiar with from the Actors' Studio in New York.

When the film was released in 1956, it was enormously controversial for its extremely risque subject matter. The Legion of Decency condemned the film for its "carnal suggestiveness". Francis Cardinal Spellman condemned the film in a stunning attack from the pulpit of St. Patrick's Cathedral two days before the film opened, saying that the film had been "responsibly judged to be evil in concept" and was certain that it would "exert an immoral and corrupting influence on those who see it", and exhorted all Catholics to refrain from patronizing the film "under pain of sin". Cardinal Spellman's condemnation of the film led to the Legion of Decency's first-ever nationwide boycott of an American-made film produced by a major studio. All over the country, almost 20 million Catholics protested the film and picketed theaters that showed the film. The Catholic boycott nearly killed the film; it was cancelled by 77% of theaters scheduled to show it, and it only made a meager $600,000 at the box office. The film was also condemned by Time Magazine, who called it the dirtiest American-made motion picture that had ever been legally exhibited. Surprisingly, the film's sordid elements, the Production Code Administration gave the film a seal of approval, but after nearly a year of arguments. This was one of many examples of how the lax attitude of the new Code official Geoffrey Shurlock, the successor of the PCA to the strict Catholic militant Joseph Breen, would lead to a schism with the Legon of Decency and the PCA's own downfall over the next few years. After "Baby Doll", the PCA drifted farther and farther away from its traditional guidelines until it was replaced by the MPAA ratings system in 1968.

Notes

The working titles of this film were Twenty-Seven Wagon Loads of Cotton and Mississippi Woman. The film's title card reads: "Tennessee Williams' Baby Doll." In her autobiography, Carroll Baker reports that on her last day of shooting, director Elia Kazan offered to change the film's title from Mississippi Woman to Baby Doll, her character's name, as a "present" to her. Kazan, in his autobiography, claims that Williams only "half-heartedly" contributed to the screenplay, and that it was, in fact, Kazan, himself, who wrote most of the script. He also reports that although he urged Williams to stay in Benoit, Mississippi, the film's location, for the duration of the shooting, Williams departed after only a few weeks because "he didn't like the way people looked at him on the streets." Hollywood Reporter production charts add that the film was also shot on location in Greenville, Mississippi and New York City. According to Kazan, the film's final bittersweet lines, uttered by "Baby Doll" to "Aunt Rose Comfort," were later sent by Williams "as a consolation" for his departure.
       According to studio production notes, African Americans from the Benoit area were featured in bit roles. Production notes also state that Uncle Pleasant, purported to be 107 years old at the time of shooting, and Sam General were in the cast, and that Boll Weevil "served as both actor and utility man for nearly three months with the location unit." A plantation house, built in 1848 and known as "Old Burras Place," was used in the film. According to Baker's autobiography, Kazan had each actor choose props for the house to reflect his or her character's personality.
       The film created controversy immediately upon its release. Although a Code seal for the film was granted, the Legion of Decency found the film to be "grievously offensive to Christian and traditional standards of morality and decency," and gave the film a "C," or condemned, rating. In an December 8, 1956 article, Motion Picture Herald complained about the picture: "Both the general principles of the Code and several specific stipulations thereof are tossed aside in granting the film a Code seal. Among these, the law is ridiculed, there are sexual implications, vulgarity, and the words 'wop' and 'nigger.'" A November 28, 1956 Variety news item noted that Baby Doll marked the first time in years that the Legion of Decency had "nixed" a major American production, particularly one with the Code seal.
       The Legion of Decency's ruling set off a storm of debate in religious communities. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Francis J. Spellman, forbade parishioners to view the film, calling it "sinful." According to a December 19, 1956 Daily Variety news item, Catholic War Veterans wired Warner Bros., promising to see that the release of the film would "result in a financial fiasco for the company coffers and a grievous moral blow to Warner's reputation." According to a December 25, 1956 Los Angeles Times article, Rev. Dr. James A. Pike, dean of the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine, devoted his entire Advent sermon responding to Spellman's attack on Baby Doll. Pike argued that the film The Ten Commandments contained a great deal more "sensuality" than Baby Doll, but had nonetheless been deemed "excellent" by "a leading New York prelate." Pike further stated that "the church's duty is not to prevent adults from having the experience of this picture, but to give them a wholesome basis for interpretation and serious answers to questions that were asked with seriousness."
       A January 7, 1957 Los Angeles Times article reported that the Roman Catholic authorities of the Paris Archdiocese, led by Cardinal Feltin, also disagreed with Spellman's attack, and that Father John Burke, head of Britain's Catholic Film Institute, had called the film "a powerful denunciation of social and racial intolerance and as such is something for thoughtful people to see." In addition, the ACLU complained that the Roman Catholic Bishop of Albany's motion to forbid Catholics to attend the local Strand Theatre for six months in protest of the film's opening there was a violation of the First Amendment. In his autobiography, Kazan writes that although Spellman made Baby Doll famous, his attack ultimately hurt the film, and that Kazan never made any money on it.
       According to memos in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the first rough script of Baby Doll was received by PCA director Joseph I. Breen on August 1, 1952. In a memo to the producers, Breen suggested rewriting the police roles, so that they would appear more decent and sympathetic to "Silva Vacarro." Breen also worried about a scene (eventually cut) in which a "Negro girl" offers herself to Vacarro "for sex purposes," and the fact that Vacarro "deliberately and with malice" uses adultery to get back at "Archie Lee Meighan." The latter, Breen wrote, is "impossible under the Code." On October 24, 1955, PCA official Geoffrey M. Shurlock wrote to studio head Jack Warner about the "serious Code violations" in the script, especially the suggestion of an adulterous affair between Vacarro and Baby Doll, which Kazan previously had promised to avoid.
       Shurlock also warned that "the element of Archie's sex frustration" was in violation of the Code and that this element would have to be removed if the film was to be approved. In a letter to Warner dated November 15, 1955, Kazan asked Warner to "assure Sherlock and Vizzard once more that both Williams and I specifically do not want there to have been a 'sex-affair' between our two people." Kazan pointed out several places in the script where he had eliminated hints of sex between Baby Doll and Vacarro, but stated that, "I cannot reduce the element of Archie Lee's sex frustration. I will, you can be sure, handle it delicately and in good taste." In the same letter, Kazan argued passionately that in order for theatrical films to survive, their makers must offer viewers fare that cannot be seen on television. Kazan urged Warner to break taboos and "strike out for increasingly unusual material." On July 25, 1956, the PCA deemed the film's basic story acceptable, including the "sex frustration" element.
       The film received the following Academy Award nominations: Carroll Baker for Best Actress, Mildred Dunnock for Best Supporting Actress, Boris Kaufman for Best Black and White Cinematography, Tennessee Williams for Best Writing (Screenplay-Adapted). Baby Doll marked the first screen appearance by Eli Wallach, who had played "Mangiacavallo" in Williams' The Rose Tattoo on Broadway. In her autobiography, Baker states that Marilyn Monroe was an important contender for the part of Baby Doll, and that the famous actress acted as an usherette at the film's New York premiere, which was a benefit for the Actors' Studio.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter December 1956

Released in United States on Video May 9, 1990

Re-released in United States on Video July 6, 1994

Released in United States November 1971

Released in United States 1996

Film was originally based on two plays by Tennessee Williams entitled "The Last of the Solid Gold Watches" and "This Property Is Condemned". Kazan began work on the script in 1952.

Re-released in Paris August 1, 1990.

Released in United States Winter December 1956

Released in United States on Video May 9, 1990

Re-released in United States on Video July 6, 1994

Released in United States 1996 (Shown in New York City (Film Forum) as part of program "Kazan" November 22 - December 26, 1996.)

Released in United States November 1971 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (A Tribute to the American Cinema) November 4-14, 1971.)

1956 Golden Globe Winner for Best Director (Kazan).