The Cry Baby Killer


1h 2m 1958

Brief Synopsis

17-year-old Jimmy Walker (Jack Nicholson, in his screen debut) is brutally beaten by Manny Cole (Brett Halsey) and two of his teen-age punk friends, Joey (Ralph Reed) and Al (James Fillmore), because Manny wants to move in on Jimmy's girl, Carole Fields (Carolyn Mitchell). Later, Jimmy shows up at the hangout of the teenage crowd to take Carole away, and challenges Manny to a fight. Manny's two buddies move in with brass knuckles, and one of them pulls a pistol, which falls to the ground in the scuffle. Jimmy picks it up and shoots Manny and Al. A police officer orders Jimmy to surrender, but he panics, thinking he killed the pair, and dives into a small storeroom, and holds Sam (Smoki Whitfield as Jordan "Smoki" Whitfield) and Mrs. Maxton (Barbara Knudston) and her small infant baby hostages. Police Lieutenant Porter (Myron Healey) and others plead with Jimmy to surrender and release the hostages, but the terrified Jimmy threatens Sam and Mrs. Maxton with death if they break out. A large crowd gathers and almost breaks through the police lines to storm the storeroom. Porter decides to use tear gas, with a rescue unit standing by to help Mrs. Maxton and her baby. Jimmy is captured, but because he shot in self-defense, looks forward to leniency...and on such things 45-years-and-counting careers are born.

Film Details

Release Date
Aug 18, 1958
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Santa Cruz Productions
Distribution Company
Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 2m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Film Length
5,533ft

Synopsis

At a local restaurant-bar, teenage tough Manny Cole and his buddy, Joey Klamer, sit with sixteen-year-old Carole Field, who is unaware that Manny is spiking her soda with liquor provided by the restaurant's proprietor, Mr. Gambelli. Meanwhile, Jimmy Wallace, Carole's former boyfriend, lies unconscious in an alley behind the restaurant, having been beaten up by Manny and his gang. Jimmy's friend, Fred Davis, revives Jimmy and, fearing another confrontation, talks Jimmy into not going inside the restaurant after Manny, but telephoning Carole instead. Carole takes the phone call and pleads with Jimmy to leave her alone as she wants to be with Manny. When Manny forces Carole to hang up, Jimmy insists on confronting the couple. Gambelli demands that the arguing teens go outside, and in a lot between the restaurant and a drive-in the boys confront one another as Carole remains anxiously behind in the restaurant. Using brass knuckles, Joey knocks Fred out immediately. Jimmy notices Mannys's pal, Al Werner, is carrying a gun and grabs it, but when Al lunges for the weapon, Jimmy shoots him and then Manny. The local police patrolman and the restaurant patrons rush to the lot upon hearing the shots. Sam, a worker in the restaurant storeroom, tries to protect a woman, Mrs. Maxton, and her infant by pulling them into the storeroom, but Jimmy, unnerved by the quick appearance of the police, follows them into the small room and locks himself in with them. Several minutes later, police Lt. Porter arrives at the scene and immediately questions Fred, who explains how the fight got started. Porter orders Carole, who has fled, to be picked up. An ambulance attendant tells Porter that both Al and Manny are alive but each are in critical condition. Meanwhile, in the storeroom, Jimmy anxiously holds a gun on Sam, Mrs. Maxton and the baby, but remains uncertain what to do. Porter questions Joey, who belligerently denies involvement until Porter discovers the brass knuckles on him and informs him that he has learned the gun is registered in his name. Fearful, Joey reveals Manny's intention to get Carole drunk and Gambelli's collusion in selling liquor to minors. When Porter confronts Gambelli, he threatens to denounce Porter for forcing confessions from juveniles with violent intimidation. Outside, a crowd has gathered, spurred on by the dramatic coverage presented by Rick, a television reporter. Carole's return coincides with the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Wallace, who are berated by a tense Mr. Maxton. The Wallaces apologize, declaring they have always done the best for Jimmy. Mrs. Wallace reproaches Carole for leading her son astray, and the teenager tearfully expresses regret. In the storeroom, Sam attempts to console the increasingly agitated Mrs. Maxton while Jimmy continues pacing nervously. Officer Gannon prevents a man, later identified as Al's father, from shooting inside the storeroom. Inside the restaurant Carole frets with waitress Julie, who urges her to take responsibility for her behavior in provoking the boys. Outside the crowd grows larger and increasingly restless despite the arrival of food vendors. Porter agrees to allow Mrs. Wallace to speak to Jimmy over a bullhorn, but despite Sam's pleas, Jimmy refuses to listen. As the evening stretches on, the Maxton baby begins crying incessantly, upsetting Jimmy. When the distraught Mrs. Maxton demands to be freed as her baby is hungry, Jimmy apologizes and orders Sam to go outside and ask the police for milk. Sam steps outside to make the request, then returning, again comforts the baby and Mrs. Maxton. Porter arranges for warm milk for the baby and adds a thermos of drugged coffee to the basket he attaches to a pole to push in the storeroom window. As Jimmy and Sam reach out the window for the basket, Mrs. Maxton attempts to escape, causing Jimmy to upset the basket when he prevents her from reaching the door. Sam calms Mrs. Maxton and pleads with a newly panicked Jimmy to take no action. Outside, the police inform Rick and his crew that he must withdraw as they intend to force Jimmy out with gas, despite the danger to the baby. Gambelli makes another attempt to threaten Porter with his lawyer, but Porter informs the men the restaurant will be closed and Gambelli charged. Hoping for a final chance not to use gas on the baby, Porter calls out a warning to Jimmy and offers him ten minutes to surrender. As the moments tick by, Porter has the Wallaces and Mr. Maxton moved inside and arranges for a respirator for the baby. Carole forces her way outside and pleads with Porter to speak to Jimmy and reluctantly, the policeman agrees. When Jimmy hears Carole's voice he abruptly goes outside, where for a moment it appears a zealous patrolman will shoot him. Carole rushes to Jimmy, however, who wearily drops the gun and embraces her as Porter and the police close in to escort Sam, Mrs. Maxton and the baby away and arrest Jimmy.

Film Details

Release Date
Aug 18, 1958
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Santa Cruz Productions
Distribution Company
Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 2m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Film Length
5,533ft

Quotes

Trivia

This was Jack Nicholson's film debut.

Notes

The opening and closing cast credits vary widely in order. According to a September 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item, producer Roger Corman announced that Ted Post was set as the film's director, but Post turned down the job. A February 1958 Hollywood Reporter item noted that Corman hoped to rush the film into release to capitalize on the publicity surrounding a recent slaying spree by a Nebraska teenager. The Cry Baby Killer marked the feature film debut of actor Jack Nicholson, who was twenty years old at the time of production. Carolyn Mitchell also made her screen debut in The Cry Baby Killer.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States June 1958

Released in United States Summer June 1958

Screen debut for actor Jack Nicholson.

b&w

Released in United States June 1958

Released in United States Summer June 1958