Lil works for the Legendre Company and causes Bill to divorce Irene and marry her. She has an affair with businessman Gaerste and uses him to force society to pay attention to her. She has ... See full summary »
The saga of Tom Holmes - a man of principles - from the Great War to the Great Depression. Will he ever get a break? His war heroics earn fame and a medal for someone else, and his wounds ... See full summary »
William A. Wellman
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Lilly (Baby Face) sleeps her way from basement speakeasy bartender, literally floor by floor, to the top floor of a New York office building. Bank sub-manager Jimmy McCoy finds her a job in the bank only to be cast aside as she hooks up with the bank's president. When he complains of not seeing her she says: "I'm working so hard I have to go to bed early every night." Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the original 1933 sneak preview, Barbara Stanwyck's dialog in the opening sequence where she attacks her father for surrounding her with men since she was the age of 14 is intact, although it was actually cut from the release version. See more »
When Lily reads from Nietzsche's book, Thoughts Out Of Season, the page that's highlighted repeats the same paragraph above, and again below, the highlighted lines. See more »
Finally, the uncut version of "Baby Face" surfaces and from what source? The Library of Congress. The restored four minutes, snippets here and there, make for a much better film. We now know that Baby Face was pimped by her old man from the time she was at least fourteen years of age. Another reason d'tat for her behavior and cold, calculating exterior.
Barbara Stanwyck is indeed amazing in the role of Lily Powers (notice the moniker), a part that called for just the right amount of sexuality coated with power, cunning, and revenge, yet tinged with virginal pretense when called for, a very difficult portrayal to make convincing. Barbara Stanwyck conveys the necessary nuances to show that though she sleeps her way to the top (literally), she still has good in her heart--note the way she treats those few who have been kind to her such as Chico (the marvelous actress Theresa Harris) and the old philosopher. And though she exploits her sexuality to make mush of men who are rich and powerful, those same men are attempting to exploit her for their carnal desires with no intention of permanent ties until they fall in love with her.
Lily Powers fails to understand, at first, that emotions are difficult to ride, that it's easy to lose control. One possible result is death. Hitching a wagon to a star of course materialism can take one to a destination where nothing else exists but the ephemeral, and it's a cold lonely location.
A word should be said about the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche whose will to power is stressed in "Baby Face" by the elderly philosopher who befriends Lilly when she is still turning tricks for her old man. "Baby Face" was released the same year Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany. Though it's highly unlikely that the semi-literate Hitler understood much about Nietzsche, he considered himself a Nietzschean to the nth degree and touted it along side his other rantings. "Baby Face" serves as an indictment of the popular interpretation of Nietzsche's will to power concept, especially in the final scenes.
Although "You've got the cutest little baby face." is apropos as a theme for "Baby Face," an even more telling and applicable melody is W. C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues" played throughout the film, especially at times when the camera has to drift away from what would otherwise be sexually explicit scenes. "St. Louis Blues" is also used wisely toward the end as Lily begins to see beyond materialism to eternal values. Chico is singing a raw, salacious version of "St. Louis Blues" when Lily, now disagreeing with the lyrics, orders her to stop.
The restored version of "Baby Face" makes the film more modern in its approach and attitude toward sex as power than many a new Hollywood release. By all means watch this gem from the distant past and enjoy.
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