From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Waters
Produced byRachel Talalay
Written byJohn Waters
Music byPatrick Williams
CinematographyDavid Insley
Edited byJanice Hampton
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • March 14, 1990 (1990-03-14) (Baltimore)
  • April 6, 1990 (1990-04-06) (United States)
Running time
85 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$12 million[2]
Box office$8.3 million[3]

Cry-Baby is a 1990 American teen musical romantic comedy film written and directed by John Waters. It was the only film of Waters' over which studios were in a bidding war, coming off the heels of the successful Hairspray. The film 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, Willem Dafoe, and Patricia Hearst.

The story centers on a group of delinquents who 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 neighborhoods and towns of Hampden, Baltimore City, Reisterstown, Jessup, Milford Mill, and Sykesville, Maryland. The only scenes not filmed in Maryland were shot at Golden Oak Ranch in Santa Clarita Valley, California.

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, who is constantly embarrassed by her post World War II normal parents; and Milton Hackett, Hatchet Face's devoted boyfriend. Walker's 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. That same day, Cry-Baby approaches the "square" part of town to a talent show 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. 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 and his mother tried to stop him, but also got sent to the electric chair as a result; Allison's parents took separate flights to avoid orphaning her if they crashed, but both their planes went down. Allison's jealous square boyfriend, Baldwin, then 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.

As Lenora Frigid, a loose 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. 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, 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. 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. 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, 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" – Doc Starkes and The Night Riders *(sung along)* – Cry-Baby
  2. "Gee" – 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


Cry-Baby premiered in Baltimore on March 14, 1990, and was released on April 6.[4] It was screened out of competition at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, it currently holds a 73% score, based on 55 reviews, with an average rating of 6.6/10. The site's consensus states: "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."[6] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film 3 out of 4 stars.[7]

Box office[edit]

The film 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]

Musical adaptation[edit]

Cry-Baby is the second of Waters' films to be adapted for the stage as a musical comedy (following Hairspray).


  1. ^ "CRY-BABY (12)". British Board of Film Classification. April 11, 1990. Retrieved January 5, 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Dreamland News: Filmography: Cry Baby". Dreamland News. Archived from the original on January 2, 2012. Retrieved January 5, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Cry-Baby at Box Office Mojo
  4. ^ "Cry-Baby". AFI Catalog. American Film Institute. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  5. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Cry-Baby". Retrieved August 8, 2009.
  6. ^ "Cry-Baby (1990)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  7. ^ "Cry-Baby :: ::ww Reviews". Roger Ebert. April 6, 1990. Retrieved January 5, 2012.

External links[edit]