14 October 2009

Baby Doll (1956)

Directed by: Elia Kazan
Written by: Tennessee Williams
Full credits at IMDb

Elia Kazan, who was instrumental in adapting Stanislavsky's acting method for the American stage and screen, is among the greatest directors of actors the cinema has ever known. And, after obvious titans like A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront (the best-acted movie ever), case in point is 1956's Baby Doll. The film...has a lot going for it: Boris Kaufman's dreary gray-tone photography; the crumbling-plaster Southern Gothic setting; the face-weathered non-professionals—"some people of Benoit, Mississippi," according to the credits—who fill in the margins and enhance the sense of degraded place; and Tennessee Williams' caustic script, based on a one-act of his written a decade earlier. But above all this is an actor's piece, a supreme example of The Power of the Method.

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