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Baby Doll (1956)

Karl Malden , Carroll Baker , Elia Kazan  |  R |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Karl Malden, Carroll Baker, Eli Wallach, Mildred Dunnock, Lonny Chapman
  • Directors: Elia Kazan
  • Writers: Tennessee Williams
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Original recording remastered, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: May 2, 2006
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000EBD9SU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,497 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Baby Doll" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New featurette Baby Doll: See No Evil
  • Baby Doll trailer gallery

Editorial Reviews

Scandalous in its time, still steamy today: Tennessee Williams' ribald tale of Mississippi child bride (Carroll Baker) and the men (Karl Malden, Eli Wallach) who lust after her. Year: 1956 Director: Eli Kazan Starring: Carl Malden, Carroll Baker, Eli Wallach

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
82 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kazan Conjures Carnality December 5, 2004
Format:VHS Tape
I had the privilege of seeing this excellent film last week at the AFI Silver Theater, which recently ran a month-long tribute to the late, great director Elia Kazan. Kazan is notable for his collaborations with a young Marlon Brando, directing the rising star in three films during the early 50s: "A Streetcar Named Desire," "Viva Zapata!" and the masterpiece "On the Waterfront." Many film critics put "Baby Doll" right behind "On the Waterfront" when ranking Kazan's filmography. Having seen it, I would likely do the same (though I haven't seen all of Kazan's films yet).

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.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "My daddy would roll over in his grave!" March 22, 2005
Format:VHS Tape
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.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good movie in an odd sort of way
Good movie in an odd sort of way. None of the characters are particularly likeable but they all do a brilliant job at playing their character. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Jennifer W.
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss this film
Film noir.....Excellent performances by Carol Baker and Eli Wallach. Black and white.
Published 20 days ago by Mom2ari
3.0 out of 5 stars So much controversy
There was so much hoop-la over the making of this movie and how degenerate it was. I found it disturbing to say the least.
Published 1 month ago by F. Denise Roe
5.0 out of 5 stars ONE of Tennessee Williams "off the wall" great theatrical writings yet...
I do not have enough room to discuss my interest in Kurt Vonnegut, Stephen King, and Tennessee Williams as three of so many excellent meta-fiction writers which is the thesis for a... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Kevin Michael Callihan Sr Esq [Retired/Disabled 1/2001]
3.0 out of 5 stars Watch it to See Caroll Baker
Caroll Baker's performance in this film is stellar. She out Lolitas Lolita. But Malden, a great actor, is allowed, by Kazan, to go too far; and I can't watch Wallach in this one... Read more
Published 4 months ago by craigwasson
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb and controversial classic!!
You gotta just love the hot sultry south for a real live motion picture. Carroll Baker,Karl Malden & Eli Wallach team up for a mighty powerful movie classic, a must see.****
Published 6 months ago by roddie
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome!
It is an instant classic! Great price, great film! It was one of those "most controversial movies ever" and if you've seen it, you know why!
Published 7 months ago by laly
4.0 out of 5 stars Baby Doll
This was an okay movie. It was made in the delta of Mississippi in 1956. Same year my Brother was born in the delta of Mississippi in 1956. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Norma Malueg
3.0 out of 5 stars A pulpy, scattered hot-mess!
There is a campiness to `Baby Doll' that one has to embrace in order to enjoy. I, for one, wasn't prepared for it. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Andrew Ellington
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie
This movie represents the Southern gothic genre to a T. I love these kinds of films that are very seductive, sensual and quite dark without going to the extremes.
Published 16 months ago by Genny
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