Baby Doll, Tennessee Williams's Southern Gothic black comedy about a bankrupt businessman who has promised not to touch his young bride until her twentieth birthday, was easily the most controversial movie of 1956—or any other year ending in 6, I imagine. In the movie's first scene, a scantily clad Carroll Baker is asleep in a crib, sucking her thumb, while her frustrated husband (Karl Malden) watches her through a peephole.
From there, it gets weird.
Time called it "[j]ust possibly the dirtiest American-made motion picture that has ever been legally exhibited," the League of Decency slapped it with its lowest rating—"C" for condemned— and Cardinal Spellman threatened any Catholic who saw it with excommunication.
No wonder it was a hit!
As Kim Morgan of Sunset Gun put it, Baby Doll is "one of the most notoriously erotic mainstream movies ever produced at that time. A movie that's still sexy today, and sexy in that perfectly unhealthy, steamy, creamy and twisted way—the only way that works."
winner: The Searchers (prod. Merian C. Cooper)
nominees: The Bad Seed (prod. Mervyn LeRoy); Forbidden Planet (prod. Nicholas Nayfack); Giant (prod. Henry Ginsburg and George Stevens); Invasion of the Body Snatchers (prod. Walter Wanger); The Killing (prod. James B. Harris); Lust for Life (prod. John Houseman); Written on the Wind (prod. Albert Zugsmith)
winner: Baby Doll (prod. Elia Kazan)
nominees: The Girl Can't Help It (prod. Frank Tashlin); High Society (prod. Sol C. Siegel); The King And I (prod. Charles Brackett); The Rainmaker (prod. Hal B. Wallis)
PICTURE (Foreign Language)
winner: Un condamné à mort s'est échappé ou Le vent souffle où il veut (A Man Escaped) (prod. Alain Poiré and Jean Thuillier)
nominees: Akasen chitai (Street of Shame) (prod. Masaichi Nagata); Aparajito (prod. Satyajit Ray); Biruma no tategoto (The Burmese Harp) (prod. Masayuki Takaki); Bob le flambeur (prod. Jean-Pierre Melville and Serge Silberman); Gervaise (prod. Agnès Delahaie (as Annie Dorfmann)); Sôshun (Early Spring) (prod. Shôchiku Film)
winner: John Wayne (The Searchers)
nominees: Kirk Douglas (Lust For Life); Sterling Hayden (The Killing); James Mason (Bigger Than Life); Kevin McCarthy (Invasion of the Body Snatchers)
winner: Yul Brynner (The King And I)
nominees: Paul Douglas (The Solid Gold Cadillac); Danny Kaye (The Court Jester); Burt Lancaster (The Rainmaker)
winner: Ingrid Bergman (Anastasia)
nominees: Nancy Kelly (The Bad Seed); Dorothy McGuire (Friendly Persuasion); Vera Miles (The Wrong Man); Maria Schell (Gervaise)
winner: Carroll Baker (Baby Doll)
nominees: Katharine Hepburn (The Rainmaker); Judy Holliday (The Solid Gold Cadillac); Deborah Kerr (The King And I); Marilyn Monroe (Bus Stop)
winner: John Ford (The Searchers)
nominees: Robert Bresson (Un condamné à mort s'est échappé ou Le vent souffle où il veut a.k.a. A Man Escaped); Don Siegel (Invasion of the Body Snatchers); Douglas Sirk (Written On The Wind); George Stevens (Giant)
winner: Jean-Pierre Melville (Bob le flambeur)
nominees: Elia Kazan (Baby Doll); Walter Lang (The King And I)
winner: Elisha Cook, Jr. (The Killing)
nominees: Richard Basehart (Moby Dick); Ward Bond (The Searchers); James Dean (Giant); Anthony Quinn (Lust for Life); Eli Wallach (Baby Doll)
winner: Dorothy Malone (Written On The Wind)
nominees: Mildred Dunnock (Baby Doll); Helen Hayes (Anastasia); Mercedes McCambridge (Giant); Marie Windsor (The Killing)
winner: Daniel Mainwaring, from the Collier's magazine serial by Jack Finney (Invasion Of The Body Snatchers)
nominees: Auguste Le Breton and Jean-Pierre Melville (Bob le flambeur); Robert Bresson, from the memoir by André Devigny (Un condamné à mort s'est échappé ou Le vent souffle où il veut a.k.a. A Man Escaped); Stanley Kubrick (screenplay), Jim Thompson (dialogue), from the novel Clean break by Lionel White (The Killing); Frank S. Nugent, from the novel by Alan Le May (The Searchers); Tennessee Williams, from his one-act plays 27 Wagons Full of Cotton and The Long Stay Cut Short (Baby Doll)
Winton C. Hoch (The Searchers) (Cinematography); "Love Me Tender" (Love Me Tender) music and lyrics by Elvis Presley and Vera Matson (Song); A. Arnold Gillespie, Irving G. Riles and Wesley C. Miller (Forbidden Planet) (Special Effects)