Baby Doll (1956) 'LINK'
Baby Doll (1956) has been called notorious, salacious, revolting, dirty, steamy, lewd, suggestive, morally repellent and provocative. Time Magazine was noted as stating: "Just possibly the dirtiest American-made motion picture that has ever been legally exhibited..." New York's Cardinal Spellman declared the film "evil in concept... certain to exert an immoral and corrupting influence on those who see it."
Baby Doll (1956)
Following the credits, the film opens with a seductive, memorable "peeping tom" image of "Baby Doll" (Carroll Baker), a luscious blonde, voluptuous girl (almost 20 years old) lying on a crib-like bed she has long grown out of. Wearing baby doll pajamas, she is curled up and taking a nap with her thumb in her mouth. Sexually-appealing, one of her legs is draped provocatively off the end of the crib. She is peered at lecherously through a small, cracked hole in the wall from the adjoining room on the second floor of a once-grand, now ramshackle, decaying plantation mansion in rural Mississippi. The voyeur is a balding, perpetually-sweating, middle-aged Archie Lee Meighan (Karl Malden), with his dog by his side (to make the point more obvious). Frustrated by not seeing enough of her, he begins to bore open a larger hole in the wall, awakening her with the scraping sounds. She moves stealthily to the adjacent room, catches him watching her, and confronts Archie Lee - her husband!:
Baby Doll: Archie Lee! You're a mess. Do you know what they call such people? Peepin' Toms! Archie: Hey, there's no need for a woman that sleeps in a baby's crib to stay away from her husband... Baby Doll: Now, I'm gonna plug up the hole in that wall with chewin' gum.
At wit's end, Archie is the town's laughing-stock - everyone knows that he is unsatisfied and ruled by his stuck-up, spoiled, child bride. While she sits in the back seat of his open car in town, he brings her a single-dip ice cream cone which she childishly licks [this is not a symbol of her desire for fellatio, only a characteristic of her baby childishness]. He expresses his growing impatience with her:
Archie: I believe in the good neighbor policy. You do me a good turn and I'll do you a good turn, Mr. Vacarro. Tit for tat and tat for tit is the policy we live on...Honey, honey, honey...Now I want you to entertain this gentleman. Oh, look. Look, look, look at her blush...Oh, this is my baby. Oh, this is my little girl, every precious ounce of her is mine....(Baby Doll yawns) Baby Doll: Excuse my yawn. We was up awful late last night. (Rock notices a discrepancy)
The film is credited with originating the name and popularity of the babydoll nightgown, which derives from the costume worn by Baker's character. The film was featured in The New York Times' Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made.
Despite their protests of innocence, the makers of Baby Doll knew very well that they'd made a Mississippi version of a story suited for Boccaccio's Decameron. The movie has no star power, although future luminaries Carroll Baker and Eli Wallach make their screen debuts -- along with Rip Torn, who gets one scene as a grinning dentist. The main draw is a salacious graphic of Baker in a baby doll pajama lying in a baby's crib. Kazan claimed his movie was about arrested development, not sex. But the image conjures an ad for Jail Bait Quarterly magazine; there are even a pair of Coke bottles in the foreground as visual aids for further fantasies. Cardinal Spellman must have choked when he saw the giant Times Square billboard ... Sodom and Gomorrah had won a foothold on Broadway.
Carroll Baker's Baby Doll is the focus of the film and the characterization that had the Cardinal seeing red. The original poster child for white trash decay, she brings to mind the specter of twelve year-old brides, shotgun weddings and other inbred southern stereotypes. Baby Doll is a technical virgin just learning how powerful sex can be as a tool to manipulate an impatient husband. The image of her in a crib, first seen from a Peeping Tom point of view, is indeed shockingly adult. She's even sucking her thumb, a "baby" function that doesn't make us think of babies. Kazan and company break all the rules when Archie barges uninvited into her bath. Although the action is off-screen, it's not what we expect to see in a 1956 movie.
The action upstairs has Silva and Baby Doll playing a lusty game of tease and dazzle, hide and seek (Hide and Seek is said to have been a working title). Silva naps in the baby's crib and it's apparent that nothing happens between them. He obtains the signed statement that Archie's is an arsonist, so the seduction games were only a smart Sicilian ruse ... perhaps. In a later dinner scene right out of a standard "farmer's daughter" tale, Silva remarks that Baby Doll has changed, that she's no longer a child. The exchange makes us think perhaps something did happen earlier in the nursery. They share a serious kiss, just out of eyeshot of the apoplectic Archie. Baby Doll ends with its story up in the air, but its characters have each moved to a new level. 041b061a72