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Baby Doll Blu-ray Review

“Baby Doll” is one out there drama.

Tennessee Williams wrote countless classic plays and scripts over his career such as “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.” And then there’s “Baby Doll.” Williams scripted this 1956 film with Elia Kazan providing directing duties (what a strange pairing in and of itself). The story revolves around Archie (a middle-aged cotton miller) and his naive 19 year old bride (Baby Doll) whose marriage has specific terms. Baby Doll can’t be touched by Archie until her 20th birthday AND she has to be cared for financially. Just before her 20th birthday, Archie’s business falls apart due to a competitor (Silva) which spells doom for his marriage and his finances. Archie lashes out by burning down Silva’s business which forces Silva to use Archie’s cotton mill. Silva, however, suspects Archie of foul plays and plots his own revenge by seducing and manipulating Baby Doll.

I can see why John Waters loves “Baby Doll” and I can also see why it’s become a cult favorite over the years. It’s an odd, sleazy movie that stands out among 50’s cinema. As you may have heard, “Baby Doll” was quite a controversial movie at the time of its release due to the sexually suggestive material. By today’s standards, Kazan’s film may not seem so outrageous, but this talky Southern soap opera/black comedy still has some strange elements ala the hide and seek sequences and Baby Doll’s room. Add in the film’s exploration of themes about age, race, lust, vengeance and broken dreams and you’ll find yourself on a journey that certainly (and commendably) goes against the grain when it comes to classic cinema. Sure, Williams’ trademark wordy and stagy style is still on display here, but the famous author explores the seedy and perverted side of human nature in a way that he hasn’t done before. 

“Baby Doll” has 3 key performances by stars Karl Malden, Carroll Baker, and Eli Wallach. Malden perfectly plays a desperate sad sack. Baker isn’t exactly a household name but she makes an impression here as the titular sexpot. Eli Wallach steals the show as the deeply vengeful Silva.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.85:1 1080p. How does it look? Viewers can expect a crisp B&W transfer.

Audio Track: 2.0 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? The 2.0 track is a little snowy in spots but it does the job

Extras include a “Baby Doll” trailer and an archival featurette titled “See No Evil” which includes film clips, interviews, and discussions about the film’s history/controversy.

January 30, 2021 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , ,

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