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Top Customer Reviews
Eli Wallach, who plays Silva Vaccaro in "Baby Doll," was on hand to introduce the film at the AFI Silver. He spoke for about 45 minutes and, though he's in his 80s, had the audience (about 40 or 50 of us) roaring with laughter. I was amazed at how many top actors and directors he's worked with. He spoke mainly about "Baby Doll," which he says is his favorite film.
Here are a few things I learned from Eli Wallach about "Baby Doll": His hands were NOT anywhere near Carroll Baker's private parts during the notoriously erotic swing scene, as reported in many a film review at the time. Rather, they were resting on a space heater; though "Baby Doll" takes place in the heat of summer, the film was shot during winter. In fact, the actors had to suck on ice cubes before each take so their breath wouldn't show. Wallach spent more time in the iconic baby crib than Baby Doll herself. This was Wallach's first film.
"Baby Doll" is based on two one-act plays by Tennessee Williams: "27 Wagons Full of Cotton" and "The Unsatisfactory Supper." Anyone familiar with Tennessee Williams knows that his writing is very southern and very steamy. "Baby Doll" may be the steamiest, most erotic thing he ever wrote.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Little-known masterpiece - one of Tennessee Williams' best. Gritty, realistic B & W photography, excellent performances. Carol Baker is exquisite, incandescent.Published 1 month ago by California
Quirky, funny, dark, different. A must see if you are a cinephile.Published 9 months ago by Stephen J. Mcgroarty
I love black and white movies and this is a classic I would recommend it.Published 10 months ago by Michael Koza
We recently visited this former plantation so we were interested in seeing the movie made at the local. I had never heard of Baby Doll before, even though we enjoy old movies. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Barb