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Baby Doll (1956) - Elia Kazan

Related: lolita - 1956 - American cinema

Carroll Baker in
Baby Doll (1956) - Elia Kazan [amazon.com]
image sourced here.


Baby Doll is a 1956 film which tells the story of a childlike bride-to-be engaged to a Southern cotton gin owner, who becomes the pawn in a battle between her fiance and his enemy. It stars Karl Malden, Carroll Baker, Eli Wallach and Mildred Dunnock.

The movie was written by Tennessee Williams and directed by Elia Kazan.

It was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Carroll Baker), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Mildred Dunnock), Best Cinematography, Black-and-White and Best Writing, Best Screenplay - Adapted. While the costume design was not nominated, the film is credited with both the name and originating the popularity of the babydoll nightgown, which derives from the costume worn by Baker's character.

The Catholic Legion of Decency succeeded in having the film withdrawn from release in most U.S. theaters because of their objections over its sexual themes. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_Doll [May 2005]

An earlier Elia Kazan film, the 1949 Pinky, now seems dated because its "scandalous" subject, miscegenation, has become a social nonissue. If anything, the reputation of this legendary 1956 romp about a child bride in the Deep South has shifted the other way; the ripe image of Carol Baker as a mentally challenged nymphet who sucks her thumb as she lures grown men into her crib (an actual crib!) would probably be hounded off the screen today. When it was originally released the film won a "condemned" rating from the Catholic Legion of Decency, but it isn't as explicit as that might suggest. Current audiences are likely to be shocked not by what's actually shown, but by the mere fact that the movie is a comedy, in effect a sex farce, adapted by Tennessee Williams from a couple of his raunchier one-act plays. Karl Malden is the divine cream puff's sad-sack husband, who has agreed to keep hands off until she turns 19; Eli Wallach is a high-stepping rival in the cotton business who harbors no such scruples. --David Chute for Amazon.com

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