The only son of wealthy widow Violet Venable dies while on vacation with his cousin Catherine. What the girl saw was so horrible that she went insane; now Mrs. Venable wants Catherine lobotomized to cover up the truth.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
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 Catholic Legion of Decency condemned the film for its "carnal suggestiveness". Cardinal Francis J. Spellman condemned the film in a stunning attack from the pulpit of St. Patrick's Cathedral two days before the film opened. He said that the film had been "responsibly judged to be evil in concept" and would "exert an immoral and corrupting influence on those who see it". He 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 major studio film. 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 can-celled by 77% of theaters scheduled to show it, and 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 Legion of Decency, and to 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 »
When Aunt Rose Comfort serves greens, some jump out, and then back into, the tureen. See more »
Archie Lee Meighan:
I am servin' you notice. If that ole woman breaks down and dies on my place, I ain't gonna get stuck with her funeral expenses. I'll have her burned up! Cremated is what they call it. And I'll pack her ashes in an ole Coca-Cola bottle and I'll pitch that bottle in the Tiger Tail bayou!
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Back in 1956 when this movie came out it was the Legion of Decency run by the Catholic church that decided what was proper or improper to see. I remember my parents checking that list whenever I wanted to see a movie. They were divided into groups. Unobjectionable, Objectionable with certain restrictions and others but the worst one was rated Condemned. I laugh when I think about it. Baby Doll did not play in my town of 100,000 as the church would have made a big stink about it, but it did play in Boston which was 25 miles away. I did not see it then but I heard from others that did and they told me that it was very steamy. There was so much controversy about this movie that no one dared mention that they saw it in mixed company as being branded as liking porno movies. I finally saw this movie on AMC about 15 years ago and I had to smile because this was such a mild movie by today's standards. This movie could be shown today on regular TV unedited with a PG rating. It had no nudity nor swearing. Karl Malden, Eli Walich and Carol Baker were outstanding. Still today Carol Baker is still being mentioned as Carol "Baby Doll" Baker, truly a role she will never live down. One more thing, the musical score throughout the movie is very moving. I bought the LP soundtrack long before I saw the movie and it was interesting to see how it fit. I have recorded it onto a cassette and still play it in my car. I think that it was the church and it's censorship that made this movie so popular.
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