Baby Dolli is Tennessee Williams greatest shame.
Here's the plot as it should have flown : Baby Doll Meighan is a pubescent girl, oppressed by the stuffy atmosphere captive under the very low skies of Tiger Tail County, Mississippi. Played by... well, a lot of girls, including the thirteen year old at the time Tuesday Weld -- just as long as it's not anodyne, antisexualii TWENTY SIX YEAR OLD Carroll Baker. Who the fuck heard of this, what, they had no Jodie Fosters in the grammar schools of the lands these people lived in ?
Baby Doll is not married to the lecherous weirdo / inbred moron she lives with, oh no no no nonononono no. That's her daddy. Her father. That is the guy Tennessee Williams inepty, amateurishly had "rolling in his grave", he traded art for a cheap throwaway joke that doesn't even zing anything.iii What the hell, complicated promises and incomprehensible nonsense, all in a doomed quest to avoid the very theatrically obvious : It's her father. Half senile, digging through the wall to get at her (but from a safe separatory distance) while she plays the whole limited range of her pubescent lures to get him to get her more furniture while not really fucking.
Everything else can be reused, especially the very strong seduction scene -- except it comes before the gin burns down, not after. In the self-evident proper construction the castrated father witnesses in secret this latest manifestation of his cuckoldry, and it drives him to a rage -- white hot, wholly impotent, worthy of Elliot, or that guy in Confederacy of Dunces. And yes he plans to exact revenge. Yes he schemes and in the imagination constructs endless towers of grandiose, exceptionally clockwork-like functional atrocities. But he does not actually do anything.
He is falsely accused when the gin does burn down ; and he is then killed, by his daughter's conqueror, in full knowledge of his innocence, intuited by the young slut, intellectually uninteresting as an artefact of dying empire to her Master by right of arms. He dies, and then Baby Doll is left behind, to wait, or maybe to follow, but in any case -- to live, like a woman lives.
Oh, Bernadette! Pardon... Mme la Baronne.
Mademoiselle! Ca ne va pas ? Oscar est revenu. Mais c'est bien!
Mais il est reparti!
Il va revenir!
Mais il repartira.
Mais il reviendra. De toute facon il ne faut jamais desesperer. Regardez, moi par exemple.
Oui, bien sur. Merci, Bernadette.
Instead of all this life-like, truthful grandeur, they made the plodding pile that they made, inadequate worms that they are.
For shame ; and the stain -- it remains.———
- 1956, by Elia Kazan, with Eli Wallach, an unremarkably mediocre Carroll Baker and the stolidly marginal Shooter guy. [↩]
- No, I don't give shit one about how she spent the 60s doing inconsequential and immemorable giallos in Italy. The woman's less sexual than the ex pantsuit in chief.
It's what she is. There's no fixing this through deeds, she has to become someone else, internally, substantially. She must grow the fuck up, she must shed that plastic veneer of "self esteem" and assorted bullshit, she must embrace her inner hole, her inconsequential, uninteresting powerlessness and unimportance to be sexy. As she stands, yet another "solidly" self-centered balabusta, her only meaningful destiny / destination would be the ovens. [↩]
- Well, not anything worth the mention anyway. All sorta Nurse Ratchets sitting in front of the telly opposite "a guy that used to be a bit of a rover" according to himself, of course, har har... these don't matter, not in the slightest. Zinging them is like dinging the bogweeds. [↩]