Mini Movie Review: Baby Doll (1956)


Isn't that purse one of the greatest you've ever seen? Her suit is stunning, too!

**WARNING** – Spoilers ahead! If you haven’t seen this film yet, don’t read on!

Well, I had no idea Eli Wallach was so interesting! I’ve only known him from The Magnificent Seven and How to Steal A Million and never thought much of him. But, I finally watched Baby Doll (1956) for the first time this weekend and was blown away by his performance. I found the beginning of his relationship with Carroll Baker slightly odd, but as the film progressed, I was drawn in by his charms. In the end, I found him remarkably appealing! The turning point for me was when his character defends Carroll Baker’s aunt when Karl Malden is needlessly picking on her. I just love a guy who sticks up for the underdog.

And while we’re on the subject of Karl Malden, what a conflicted character he played! Even though the film paints him in a dreadful light, I found it hard to hate him. Instead, he was quite sympathetic.  I thought his only flaw was being weak and allowing his weakness to overtake him. His greatest mistake was resorting to arson. That was plain dumb. Oh and of course, he allowed himself to become addicted to the bottle. Never helpful to getting your life back on track.

All in all I enjoyed the film a lot. My favorite scene is where Eli Wallach jumps up into the tree to hide from Karl Malden and then helps Carroll Baker up too. It’s almost like the two of them share something so special, nothing Karl Malden can do will effect them in any way. They just sit up in their tree, safe – high above him and his depravity. Quite fascinating.

(Many thanks to Raquelle for making it impossible for me to avoid this film any longer. I’m so glad you prodded me!)

**11/9/09 edit**On DVD links (thanks to judith for reminding me!): Amazon US, Amazon UK, — These all seem to be Region 1 encoded. It looks like this is the only format Baby Doll has been released in. :(


Filed under Film Bloggers, Movie Review

9 responses to “Mini Movie Review: Baby Doll (1956)

  1. I’m so glad you liked it. I was taking a big chance sending it to you because I wasn’t sure it was your type of film. But I love that film so much that I want to share it with everyone. I’m glad you liked the performances!

    I have to say, Eli Wallach is very very attractive in this film. I was a bit jealous of the attention he was paying to Carroll Baker. “You certainly are gettin’ familiar!”

  2. Baby Doll has always been one of my favourite films. A lot of it is because the leads all do a great job. I think Eli Wallach, Karl Malden, and Caroll Baker all gave great performances.

  3. Raquelle– I agree, Eli Wallach is amazingly attractive. That was the aspect of his performance that surprised me the most. I’ve always thought of him as a bland sort of person, who is usually out of sorts. But, in Baby Doll he’s so different! Isn’t Carroll’s accent wonderful? I thought I heard some babyish tones in it too, like she hadn’t ever learned to speak properly.

    Mercurie– It’s one of my new favorites, now! :) The leads are fabulous. All three of them give marvelous performances. I really like Mildren Dunnock as Aunt Rose Comfort, too. Visiting old people and stealing their candy is really a quirky trait! There are lots of little funny surprises thrown in like that one. All the better!

  4. Well her character is very much stuck in a child like state. In the movie at one point she says that she never got past a certain grade. 8th grade I think? So she didn’t have a proper education.

  5. Raquelle– Oh that’s right, she does say that! Does she say 8th or was it 5th? I can’t remember now. What a marvelous excuse to watch it again!

  6. judith

    hello. this is a truly masterful piece of cinema. it is one of my all time favourite films. i had to download it off of the internet, and when searching to buy it, i found your site. i saw you said you could provide the links to purchase it, and i wondered if you could send me the links so i may be able to. many thanks.

  7. Pingback: Musings from a Moonspinner « Noir Girl

  8. danyulengelke

    Great review!

    We’re linking to your article for Academy Monday at

    Keep up the good work!

  9. Pingback: Academy Monday – Watch: ‘Baby Doll’ (Elia Kazan, 1956) | Seminal Cinema Outfit

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