"My daddy would roll over in his grave!"
Brian Hulett | Oinklahoma | 03/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Archie Lee (Karl Malden) has had the hots for Baby Doll (Carroll Baker) since she was jail bait. Eventually her elderly father, who obviously sired her late in life and spoiled her silly, passed away, and foolishly agreed to let Archie Lee marry her when she reached age 18 so she'd be taken care of when he was gone.
She was, as she plaintively says, "not ready for marriage." And now, nearly two years later, she still isn't. Her 20th birthday is approaching (not 19th, as some reviews here say for some reason), and her agreement with Archie has been that she'll be "ready" on her 20th birthday. Archie is so excited he literally can't sit still....and we can't blame him.
Director Elia Kazan does his usual terrific job with his method directing, making sure we feel what's going on even if we can't understand all of it. The poor oaf played by Malden is helpless in the hands of the object of his desire, and she loathes him. Eli Wallach, in a terrific film debut, is insightful and virile, his attentions turning Baby Doll into a woman before our eyes.
Much has been said about the steaminess and controversy surrounding this film, and there's a reason for that, viewed in its context as a 1956 sensation. And Kazan certainly makes us feel this as well. The story builds to some appropriate climaxes (none of them explicitly sexual) and never allows our attention to flag. The tension, in spite of expert comedy touches along the way, never flags either. Doubtless the best Kazan/Tennessee Williams collaboration not starring Brando.
Malden was in the middle of a successful film career here, long before his days as the longtime American Express spokesman. Wallach went on to a successful film career himself. Baker, in spite of a Best Actress Oscar nomination for "Baby Doll," sadly degenerated to a caricature of this character, a one-note sexpot, in most of her roles, including the dreadful "The Secret Diary of Sigmund Freud," starring Bud Cort (Harold of "Harold and Maude") as the famous therapist himself. Please remember her this way; she was brilliant as the virginal, coquettish overaged Lolita yet to fully awaken....and then having awakened. Terrific film about the nature of desire and the sexual power young women can have over middle-aged men who don't know better."
"Is that what they call a Mona Lisa smile you got on your pu
W. Oliver | Alabama | 06/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A nymphet, her hothead husband and a vengeance seeking Sicilian form a bizarre triangle filled with sexual tension in Tennessee William's smoldering black comedy. The film (released in 1956) created quite the sensation in its day and was condemned by the Catholic Church. Although tame by today's standards, it is easy to see why the film was so daring at the time of its release. The heavily suggestive dialogue and sexual implications are easily apparent. "Baby Doll" is finally available on dvd and it looks fantastic.
Filmed in Benoit, Mississippi in a dilapidated antebellum mansion (which still stands today), you can almost feel the heat drifting across the desolate landscape. Locals were used in some of the bit parts which adds even more authenticity to the feel of the film.
The performances are top-notch with Carrol Baker breathtaking and utterly memorable as the unsophisticated child bride ("I've been to school in my life and I'm a magazine reader") and Karl Malden perfect as the bumbling, seething husband whose jealously drives him over the edge. Eli Wallach is hypnotic as the revenge seeking opportunist and Mildred Dunnock is hilarious as the ditsy aunt who runs around trying to keep the chicken out of the kitchen and forgetting to turn on the stove to cook the greens. Baker and Dunnock received Academy Award nominations and it is unbelievable that Malden and Wallach were over-looked. This is one of the funniest films ever made. The scene where Wallach is running across the mansion with a pitcher of lemonade trying to scare Baby Doll is especially hilarious.
I agree with the previous reviewer who lamented the lost opportunity for a great commentary since the principle actors still living. The brief documentary, "Baby Doll: See No Evil," does include interviews with Baker, Malden and Wallach but a commentary would have been wonderful."
A brave film in its age and still !
Hiram Gomez Pardo | Valencia, Venezuela | 11/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The fifties decade was a real transition age . That meant change , innovation and curiosity to explore and research new ways of expression .
From Pollock to Faulkner ; Deming and Tucker ; the Cold War and the Rock & Roll birth , there was nothing safe under the sun .
The adults opened the eyes from the WW2 demons and faced the countless challenges of a rasing generation deeply requesting to whom you had to convince and persuade .
To be true there were few films who stroke the heart and soul in America like this one . There were others works such as Asphalt Jungle , All about Eve , The man with the golden arm , The night of the hunter , Anatomy of a murder that broke the walls because talked without any kind of restrictions the real world and the way the people lived .
Baby Doll is a powerful film who strikes the roots of the mach man , accustomed to keep in home a sexual slave, to consider the woman a desire object instead a lovely human being : the terror of the Cold War , the new dreams , seemed not include the woman in the project and Kazan decided to accept the challenge and he did it .
The images talk by themselves : the hidden desires of a child woman under the domain of a merciless and elemental man will be the main ingredients to show you an extraordinary picture .
Censored and ignored in its age for all the Moral League and Institutions which decided to look to the other side of the highway instead to face the reality , were the best catalysts for throwing this film to the posterity .
One of my favorite cult movies in this decade .
Dazzling direction of Elia Kazan .
Malden is terrific in this role !"