Baby Doll

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"She's nineteen. She makes her husband keep away -- she won't let the stranger go."
  • Approved
  • 1956
  • 1 hr 55 min
  • 7.3  (8,157)
  • 83

Baby Doll is a 1956 American black comedy-drama film directed by Elia Kazan, based on a screenplay by Tennessee Williams. The film stars Karl Malden, Carroll Baker, and Eli Wallach in the lead roles. The film is set in the rural South and follows the complex and controversial relationship between two neighbors - Archie Lee Meighan (played by Malden) and Silva Vacarro (played by Wallach) - over the course of a summer.

The film begins with Archie Lee, a middle-aged cotton gin owner, pressuring his young bride, Baby Doll (played by Baker), to consummate their marriage on her 20th birthday. However, Baby Doll is still a virgin and refuses to sleep with him until the end of the summer. Archie Lee becomes increasingly frustrated and resentful of Baby Doll's refusal and begins to plot his revenge against his rival Silva, who he believes has contributed to his marital problems.

As the summer progresses, tensions between the three characters escalate, leading to a series of confrontations and power struggles. Archie Lee's cotton gin catches fire, destroying his business and leaving him deeply in debt. Silva, who is responsible for the fire, offers to pay off Archie Lee's debts in exchange for Baby Doll's affections. Baby Doll is torn between her loyalty to her husband and her growing attraction to Silva, leading to a complex and morally ambiguous dynamic between the three characters.

Throughout the film, the characters grapple with issues of morality, sexuality, and power dynamics. The film was highly controversial upon its release due to its explicit sexual themes and provocative subject matter. However, it also received critical acclaim for its engaging characters and nuanced exploration of complex social and psychological issues.

One of the film's highlights is the standout performances from its lead actors. Karl Malden delivers a nuanced and sympathetic portrayal of Archie Lee, a flawed but ultimately sympathetic character. Carroll Baker is equally impressive in the role of Baby Doll, bringing a complex mix of vulnerability, innocence, and sexuality to the character. Eli Wallach rounds out the cast with his memorable portrayal of Silva Vacarro, a charismatic and enigmatic figure who remains shrouded in mystery throughout the film.

The film's cinematography and visual style are also noteworthy, with Kazan utilizing a variety of visual techniques to heighten the tension and drama of the story. The film's use of shadow and light, as well as its alluring use of close-ups, provide a subtle yet effective backdrop for the film's complex themes and character dynamics.

Overall, Baby Doll is a complex and thought-provoking film that remains a classic of American cinema. Its themes of sexuality, power, and morality continue to resonate with audiences today, making it a timeless and enduring work of art.

Baby Doll is a 1956 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 55 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.3 and a MetaScore of 83.

Baby Doll
Where to Watch Baby Doll
Baby Doll is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Baby Doll for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 55 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.3  (8,157)
  • Metascore