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
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Church in the US, condemned the film as immoral, and despite the efforts of director Elia Kazan, was able to get it withdrawn from release. See more »
The interval between rings of the phone varies irregularly from 3 to 8 seconds, as though it was being rung manually, but it is on a dial system. See more »
Karl Malden and Eli Wallach make terrific, prickly adversaries in this Tennessee Williams adaptation of two of his one-act plays, "27 Wagons Full of Cotton" and "The Unsatisfactory Supper". Williams incorporates all levels of dramatic material into this grand Southern stew, which doesn't appear to be very lofty or complicated at the outset, yet its deeper meanings eventually come to the surface (and are even more pronounced upon repeat viewings). Mississippi cotton-gin owner Malden lives with his virginal bride and her batty aunt in a dilapidated manor; he has agreed not to touch wife Baby Doll until her 20th birthday, which is nearing closer, but a rival cotton entrepreneur may get to her first. The film is loony-tunes nuttiness with a carnal edge, and frisky-yet-halting Carroll Baker is the perfect backwater tease. Elia Kazan directs with a straightforward simplicity that catches you off-guard (you don't know whose side he is on), and as Malden, playing the ultimate chump and buffoon, gets more and more crazed, one feels for him even though he's been made to seem pathetic. Once Wallach enters, striding up and down like a Sicilian Snidely Whiplash, Malden's character nearly becomes irrelevant, but there's an amazing last act where the three principals sit down to dinner--and an even more incredible tag wherein Baby Doll matures in a hurry. Baker's resolute defeat here is heartbreaking, yet Williams and Kazan are careful to put a wry spin on the whole thing. It's the ultimate dirty joke--and yet there's really nothing dirty in it. All the secondary actors are splendid (particularly Madeleine Sherwood as a doctor's assistant) and the atmosphere is vividly captured, with wind and leaves whistling about and flies in the air. Baker looks great curled up in her crib (with the slats down), but when it is Wallach's turn to bed down, it's the best sight gag in the movie. *** from ****
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