A Film For December: Cry-Baby

The Big City about a middle class women from a conservative family in Calcutta getting a job was meant to be my film for December but it wasn’t available so a replacement was found for me – could it be any more different?! Cry-Baby is a 1990 teen musical rom-com written and directed by John Waters.

Set in Baltimore in 1954 teenage culture is divided between the ‘Drapes’ and the ‘Squares’. Johnny Depp stars as rebel Wade ‘Cry-Baby’ Walker who drives the girls wild with his ability to shed a single tear and Amy Locane is Allison Vernon-Williams, the Square he falls for.

Chaos and consternation ensue as the hillbilly Drapes meet the suburban Squares until Allison’s boring boyfriend, in his jealousy, brings it all to a head by starting a fight. Of course Cry-Baby gets the blame and is sent to prison – this is great because it led to my favourite scene which was one of those stylised black and white stripe jailbird musical numbers, lots of finger clicking and harmony and it’s where Cry-Baby get’s his tear drop tattoo with the line

‘I’ve been hurt all my life, but real tears wash away – this one’s for Allison, and I want it to last forever.’

There are some great lines lampooning the pin-up 50’s and there’s a huge ensemble cast including Ricki Lake and Iggy Pop that gives a bit of a party atmosphere. It’s a grimier version of musicals like Grease or Hairspray, which doesn’t make it a bad thing but for me it lacked their charm. It is however uncannily fitting to bring in 2021 because it opens with a scene where they’re all being vaccinated!

Happy New Year!

7 thoughts on “A Film For December: Cry-Baby

  1. Happy New Year, Jane! I’ve enjoyed your musings on these films over the last 12 months. Will you be doing it this year? I hope so.

    As for Cry-Baby, it sounds fun, although maybe not quite up there with JW’s best films such as Hairspray. Your description of the teenage gangs reminded me a little of West Side Story, with the Sharks and Jets up against each other. Another classic film I’d like to revisit!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jacqui, I do have a list for this year! Yep, all those teenage gangs – but with sharper edges and not quite the same amount of fun, for me anyway.


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