Mississippi Matinee an Exhibition of the State and the Silver Screen
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Introduction: Tennessee Williams(2)
Kazan chose to shoot the film in Benoit, Mississippi to give it a sense of authenticity. The location work lasted ten weeks and eventually won the overwhelming goodwill of its citizens. Although the subject matter of the story was risqué, none of its participants anticipated the overwhelming public outcry that followed its release. In fact, the Legion of Decency described the film as "morally repellant." Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York, preached a sermon in December 1956 solely dedicated to Baby Doll's corruptive influences. In contrast, at its opening several reviewers argued that Williams had created multi-dimensional characters that were both good and bad. Critic Arthur Knight commented, "the script makes no effort to reward the good and punish the wicked."
The display features several items related to the film: an annotated typesetting copy of the New Directions publication Baby Doll: The Script for the Film (1956); a 1957 English edition of this publication; and a reproduction of our original three-sheet poster for the film.
During the 1940-41 Theater Guild season, stage mishaps and censorship closed the production of Williams' fifth full-length play -- Battle of Angels at its debut. Fifteen years later a revised version entitled Orpheus Descending opened on Broadway to mixed reviews. Two producers, Martin Jurow and Richard Shephard, bought the film rights, and the name changed yet again, this time to The Fugitive Kind(1960).[go to page 3 >>]

Online exhibition © copyright 2006
Department of Archives and Special Collections
JD Williams Library, 3rd Floor
University of Mississippi
University, MS 38677
telephone: 662-915-7408
hours: 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday
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