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For other uses, see Crybaby (disambiguation).
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Waters
Produced by Rachel Talalay
Written by John Waters
Starring Johnny Depp
Amy Locane
Polly Bergen
Susan Tyrrell
Iggy Pop
Ricki Lake
Traci Lords
Music by Patrick Williams
Cinematography David Insley
Edited by Janice Hampton
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • April 6, 1990 (1990-04-06)
Running time 85 minutes[1]
91 minutes (Director's cut)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $12 million[2]
Box office $8,266,343[3]

Cry-Baby is a 1990 American teen musical romantic comedy film written and directed by John Waters. It stars Johnny Depp as 1950s teen rebel "Cry-Baby" Wade Walker, and also features a large ensemble cast that includes Amy Locane, Polly Bergen, Susan Tyrrell, Iggy Pop, Ricki Lake, and Traci Lords with appearances by Troy Donahue, Joe Dallesandro, Joey Heatherton, David Nelson, and Patricia Hearst.

The story centers on a group of delinquents that refer to themselves as "drapes" and their interaction with the rest of the town and its other subculture, the "squares", in 1950s Baltimore, Maryland. "Cry-Baby" Walker, a drape, and Allison, a square, create upheaval and turmoil in their little town of Baltimore by breaking the subculture taboos and falling in love. The film shows what the young couple has to overcome to be together and how their actions affect the rest of the town.

Part of the film takes place at the now-closed Enchanted Forest amusement park in Ellicott City, Maryland. Others take place in the historic towns of Reisterstown, Jessup, Milford Mill, and Sykesville, Maryland.

The film did not achieve high audience numbers in its initial release, but has subsequently become a cult classic and spawned a Broadway musical of the same name which was nominated for four Tony Awards.


In 1954 Baltimore, Wade "Cry-Baby" Walker is the leader of a gang of "Drapes", which includes his sister Pepper, a teenage mother, Mona "Hatchet Face" Malnorowski, who is facially disfigured, Wanda Woodward, and Milton Hackett. His ability to shed a single tear drives all the girls wild. One day after school, he is approached by Allison Vernon-Williams, a pretty girl tired of being a "square", and the two fall in love. ("Women in Cadillacs", "Gee!"), That same day, Cry-Baby approaches the "square" part of town to a talent show ("Sh-Boom", "A Teenage Prayer") at the recreation center where Allison's grandmother hosts events, and introduces himself to her, who is skeptical of his motives. Cry-Baby invites Allison to a party at Turkey Point, a local hangout spot for the drapes.

Despite her grandmother's skepticism, Allison accompanies Cry-Baby to Turkey Point and sings with the drapes ("King Cry-Baby"). As Cry-Baby and Allison tell each other about their orphan lives (Cry-Baby's father was sent to the electric chair after being the "Alphabet Bomber" - a killer who bombed places in alphabetical order airport, barber shop etc.; Allison's parents always took separate flights to avoid orphaning her if they crashed, but one day both their planes went down), Allison's jealous square boyfriend, Baldwin, starts a riot. Cry-Baby is blamed for the fight and sent to a penitentiary, outraging all his friends and even Allison's grandmother, who is impressed by Cry-Baby's posture, manners, and musical talent. ("Teardrops Are Falling")

As Lenora Frigid, a girl with a crush on Cry-Baby but constantly rejected by him, claims to be pregnant with his child, Allison feels betrayed and returns to Baldwin and the squares, though her grandmother advises her against rushing into a decision. ("Doin´ Hard Time Bein´ Young") Meanwhile, in the penitentiary, Cry-Baby gets a teardrop tattoo. He tells the tattoo artist, fellow drape Dupree (Robert Tyree): "I've been hurt all my life, but real tears wash away. This one's for Allison, and I want it to last forever!".

Eventually after performing with Baldwin and the Whiffles ("Mr. Sandman"), Allison is persuaded by the newly established alliance between the Drapes and her grandmother to stand by Cry-Baby and join the campaign for his release ("Please, Mr. Jailer"). Cry-Baby is released but immediately insulted by Baldwin who, after revealing that his grandfather is the one who electrocuted Cry-Baby's father, challenges him to a chicken race. ("High School Hellcats") Cry-Baby wins, as Baldwin chickens out, and is reunited with Allison.

The film ends with all watching the chicken race crying a single tear, all except for Allison and Cry-Baby, who has finally let go of the past, enabling him to cry from both eyes.


Musical numbers[edit]

  1. "Women in Cadillacs by Doc Starkes and The Night Riders" *(sung along)* - Cry-Baby
  2. "Gee! by The Crows" *(sung along)* - Cry-Baby, Hatchet-Face, Milton, Pepper, Wanda
  3. "Sh-Boom" – Baldwin, the Whiffles
  4. "A Teenage Prayer" – Allison
  5. "King Cry-Baby" – Cry-Baby, Allison, Hatchet-Face, Milton, Pepper, Wanda
  6. "Teardrops Are Falling" – Cry-Baby, Dupree, Prisoners
  7. "Doin' Time for Bein' Young" – Cry-Baby, Prisoners
  8. "The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane" (Director's cut) – Baldwin, the Whiffles
  9. "Mr. Sandman" – Allison, Baldwin, the Whiffles
  10. "Please, Mr. Jailer" – Allison, Cry-Baby, Company, Prisoners
  11. "Chicken" (deleted scene) – Baldwin, the Whiffles
  12. "High School Hellcats" – Cry-Baby, Allison, Pepper, Company


To find a young actor for the role of Wade "Cry-Baby" Walker, Waters bought $30 worth of teen magazines, all of which showed Johnny Depp of 21 Jump Street on the cover. Depp thought the script was funny and strange, and took the offbeat role to avoid being typecast as a TV teen idol.

The singing parts of Baldwin and the Whiffles were performed by Andrew Gold, Gerry Beckley of the group America, and Timothy B. Schmit of The Eagles.[citation needed]


The film was screened out of competition at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

The film currently holds a 76% 'Fresh' rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus "John Waters' musical ode to the teen rebel genre is infectious and gleefully camp, providing star Johnny Depp with the perfect vehicle in which to lampoon his pin-up image."[5] Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film 3 out of 4 stars.[6]

Box office[edit]

Cry-Baby opened on April 6, 1990 in 1,229 North American cinemas — an unprecedented number for a John Waters film. In its opening weekend, it grossed a soft $3,004,905 ($2,445 per screen) and grossed $8,266,343 by the end of its theatrical run,[3] making it a box office flop from its $12 million budget.[2]

Alternate versions[edit]

Director's cut

The film, when released on DVD in 2005, has a 91-minute director's cut, adding six minutes to the original 85-minute release. The director's cut adds the following:

  • The song "The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane"
  • The third verse of "A Teenage Prayer"
  • A scene where Hatchet Face's parents are selling cigarettes to the high school students
  • Extra footage of Cry-Baby driving his motorcycle to the charm school, a cop pursuing him, and an air raid drill that interrupts Allison's act
  • An extended take of Wanda's parents questioning the meaning of "the F-word"
  • Extended footage of Hatchet Face chasing Susie Q and Snare-Drum around the yard
  • A scene with a child contortionist at the talent show
Television airings

When shown on the USA Network, the airings include a few additional scenes not in the director's cut:

  • Toe-Joe does a "work-with-me" spiel instead of thanking his "Nudie Cutie"
  • The "Pistol Packin' Mama" (recording by The Hurricanes) dance number
  • The deleted musical number "Chicken" – can be seen in the deleted scenes section of the Director's Cut DVD
  • Cry-Baby arrives during "So Young" instead of before the song beginning, as in video version

Musical adaptation[edit]

Main article: Cry-Baby (musical)

Cry-Baby is the second of Waters' films to be adapted for the stage as a musical comedy (following Hairspray). It was produced at the La Jolla Playhouse (California) as part of their 2007 season.

The show opened at the Marquis Theatre on March 15, 2008. The show was a critical failure (with many critics comparing it unfavorably to Hairspray) and low tickets sales led the show to close on June 22, 2008 after 45 previews and 68 regular performances.


  1. ^ "CRY-BABY (12)". British Board of Film Classification. 1990-04-11. Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  2. ^ a b "Dreamland News: Filmography: Cry Baby". Dreamland News. Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  3. ^ a b Cry-Baby at Box Office Mojo
  4. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Cry-Baby". Retrieved 2009-08-08. 
  5. ^ Cry-Baby at Rotten Tomatoes
  6. ^ "Cry-Baby :: :: Reviews". Roger Ebert. 1990-04-06. Retrieved 2012-01-05. 

External links[edit]