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Frédérick De Grandpré
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Living in Tiger Tail County, Mississippi, middle aged Archie Lee Meighan and nineteen year old "Baby Doll" Meighan née McCargo have been married for close to two years. Their marriage is not based on love, but each getting what they want from the other. Their marriage agreement has them consummating their marriage on her twentieth birthday, which is in three days, the act to which Baby Doll is not really looking forward. But she does taunt him and other men with her overt "baby doll" sexuality, the baby doll aspect which she fosters by sleeping in their house's nursery in a crib. Baby Doll's now deceased father allowed the marriage on the stipulation that Archie Lee provide Baby Doll financial security as displayed by the most resplendent house in the south. They currently live in a dilapidated mansion with her Aunt Rose Comfort, and although Archie Lee is making some renovations on it, he no longer has the financial means to make it what Baby Doll wants as his cotton ginning ... Written by
When the film was released in 1956, it was enormously controversial for its extremely risqué 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 it. 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, which called it the dirtiest American-made motion picture that had ever been legally exhibited. Surprisingly, despite the film's sordid elements, the Production Code Administration gave it a seal of approval, but only after nearly a year of arguments. This was one of many examples of how the lax attitude of new Code official Geoffrey Shurlock, the successor at the PCA to the strict Catholic militant Joseph I. Breen, would lead to a schism with the Legon of Decency and the PCA's own downfall over the next few years. After this film, the PCA drifted farther and farther away from its traditional guidelines until it was replaced by the MPAA ratings system in 1968. See more »
The way the old guy holds the pizza slice changes. See more »
Elia Kazan took a big chance in directing "Baby Doll". His association with Tennessee Williams must have been the deciding factor in his coming on board. This was a film that caused quite a stir because of the direct intervention of Cardinal Spellman of New York in denouncing it for its suggestive billboard in the Times Square area and the content of the movie.
This film is a testament of how to film an erotic feature without having the actors running naked all over the place. Carroll Baker, as the Baby Doll of the title, generates a lot of heat every time we see her in the opening scenes through the "peeping tom" eyes of Archie Lee, the husband still awaiting to fulfill his duty as a husband.
The steamy scenes between Vaccaro and Baby Doll are incredible if one thinks of the era when it was filmed. Nothing like those torrid scenes were seen in an American film before! What is amazing is the fact this film was released at all.
Unfortunately, the copy that was shown on cable recently has the worst sound track imaginable. The Southern accents from the actors don't help things either.
Karl Malden adds to the character of Archie Lee by playing it as a dumb hick who is not too worldly in matters of the bedroom. Carroll Baker had a great role in her Baby Doll. She plays her as a typical small town from that part of the South, a real teaser. Eli Wallach's as Vaccaro brought virility and sensuality to his portrayal. Mildred Dunnock was good as Aunt Rose.
This film is an oddity that heralded the liberation of Hollywood from the hated Hays Code which will come much later on.
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