Released – December, 1956
Directed By – Elia Kazan
Starring – Karl Malden (Archie Lee Meighan), Carroll Baker (Baby Doll Meighan), Eli Wallach (Silva Vacarro), Mildred Dunnock (Aunt Rose Comfort).
Description – 19 years old and married… but not really!
Tiger Tail, Mississippi is the home of one very strange “odd couple.” Middle-aged and bigoted Archie Lee Meighan has been married to 19-year old virgin “Baby Doll” Meighan for nearly two years. They live in a dilapidated old mansion along with her Aunt Rose Comfort.
This is a marriage that has nothing to do with love, but rather with each party getting what they want. And in a few days Archie will be getting what he wants. An unusual agreement between Archie and Baby Doll’s father was made as the man lay dying.
Archie was granted permission to marry Baby Doll, and agreed to financially take care of her, if after marrying he would wait until the young girl turned 20-years old before consummating the marriage. In a few days Baby Doll will finally turn 20.
How does she feel about this arrangement? Well, Baby Doll is not happy about the thought of having relations with her much older husband, but this has never stopped her from sexually taunting Archie and, for that matter, any other man with her baby doll sensuality.
Her “baby doll” behaviour goes a lot farther than a nickname. She still sleeps in the house’s nursery in a crib, wear’s child size shorty-nightgowns, and sucks her thumb. All of which is very appealing to Archie who enjoys spying on her through a hole in the wall.
Archie also owns a failing cotton gin. The business equipment is out-of-date and Archie has lost most of his customers to business rival Silva Vacarro’s modern cotton gin. At the brink of losing everything, and in an act of desperation, Archie decides to burn down Vacarro’s gin.
Furious, and feeling certain that Archie is the arsonist, Silva plots a devastating plan of revenge. He will seduce Baby Doll and terrorize her into signing a statement admiting that Archie is responsible for the fire.
Things in Tiger Tail, Mississippi are growing more ugly by the minute and someone will be driven to thoughts of murder.
NOTABLE: Baby Doll received Oscar nominations for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Carroll Baker), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Mildred Dunnock), Best Writing, Best Screenplay – Adapted, and Best Cinematography, Black-and-White.
The National Legion of Decency, a Roman Catholic Church organization, strongly objected to what it referred to as “carnal suggestiveness,” in the film and was successful in preventing it from being shown in many area’s. Two days before the film’s opening Francis Cardinal Spellman, speaking at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, condemned the film and that all Catholic’s should not patronize this motion picture “under pain of sin.”
The motion picture was adapted from the Tennessee Williams play, 27 Wagons Full of Cotton, and Williams had hoped to have Marilyn Monroe play the role of Baby Doll. However, director Elia Kazan preferred newcomer Carroll Baker for the part.
Baby Doll provided the feature film debut’s for actors Eli Wallach and Rip Torn.
The nightgown’s worn by Carroll Baker in this film were the inspiration for the, now very familiar, style of nightgown known as Baby Doll.