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Baby Doll

Baby Doll

Director:Elia Kazan
Cast:Karl Malden, Carroll Baker, Eli Wallach, Mildred Dunnock, Lonny Chapman
Release Date:2007

At the Charles Theatre at noon May 26, 7 p.m. May 28, and 9 p.m. May 31.

By Bret McCabe | Posted 5/23/2007

Elia Kazan's second teaming with scenarist Tennessee Williams didn't result in the dramatic dirty bomb that was 1951's A Streetcar Named Desire, but it was no less exothermic. Carroll Baker made her major-role debut as the titular sexpot, the virginal 19-year-old bride to Southerner Archie (Karl Malden), who, at Baby Doll's request, can't consummate his marriage until her 20th birthday. Even that doesn't look very likely, though, as they're nearly destitute since the arrival of the Syndicate Plantation, which has stolen all of Archie's cotton gin business. Desperate frustration leads Archie to set fire to the Syndicate, and Baby Doll soon proves she isn't as naive as she comes across at first--especially now that she finds herself the desired object of the Syndicate's operator, the vain Sicilian Silva Vacarro (the great Eli Wallach). What transpires is less dramatic sexual power struggle as outright carny adventure: Southern gothic melodrama and outright sexual repression have never been quite as cheeky and belly-laugh ribald as they are in this 1956 outing. It includes one of the most downright lurid character entrances when Baker's Baby Doll is first seen, and an entire cast wouldn't again have this much fun saying Williams' lines until 1968's intoxicatingly ridiculous Boom.

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