Cast & Crew
In Hollywood, voluptuous movie star Carla Naples drowns her sorrows in a bottle of brandy. When her agent, Harold Herman, asks her why she is depressed, Carla confesses that she is pregnant, having secretly married a Mexican bullfighter named Carlos while on a publicity tour in Acapulco four months earlier. After Carlos was killed in the ring the day after their wedding, Carla tore up the license and now has no proof of the marriage. Thinking quickly, Harold tells the studio chief that the actress is going into seclusion for five months in order to prepare for her next film, The White Virgin of the Nile , and Carla decides to leave the infant, after its birth, with her childhood sweetheart, Clayton Poole. Back in their small hometown of Midvale, Indiana, the accident-prone Clayton works as a television repairman. Sandy Naples, Carla's teenage sister, is hopelessly in love with Clayton, but he still carries a torch for the movie star. The same night that Carla secretly gives birth to triplets, Sandy asks Clayton to fix her television set. On his way to the Naples home, Clayton overhears Sandy's intoxicated father, Gigi "Papa" Naples, telling his friends that he will kill Clayton if he finds him with Sandy, having never forgiven the young man for encouraging his oldest daughter to leave home and become an actress. Afraid for his life, Clayton decides to leave town, but is stopped by Carla, who finds him at their old swimming hole. There, Clayton tells Carla that he has never stopped thinking about her, and has always dreamed that someday he would rescue her and win her love, like a knight of old. Though hesitant at first, Carla asks Clayton to be father to her triplets for six months, while she films The White Virgin of the Nile on location in Egypt. He readily agrees, and in order to keep her secret, Clayton pretends to find the three baby girls on his doorstep. Though he does not tell her that she is their aunt, Clayton soon enlists Sandy's aid in caring for the triplets. Learning his daughter is with Clayton, Papa rushes over to the young man's house and immediately falls in love with the babies. Having noticed a similarity in features between himself and his granddaughters, Papa accuses Sandy of being their mother, but she tells him that she spent her summer vacation in Hollywood having her teeth capped, not bearing children. The Italian barber soon ascertains the truth when he finds a picture of Carla as an infant in a family album, which even Clayton thinks is a photograph of one of the triplets. Papa then apologizes to the young man for all the bad things he has said about him and thanks Clayton for helping his oldest daughter. Although he is complimented for his care of the three girls, Clayton is soon overwhelmed by the responsibility and becomes bedridden with exhaustion. Mr. Wright, Clayton's boss and chairman of the city council, tries to convince him to give up the infants, but Clayton insists that their mother, "Stella Dallas," will soon return for them. Meanwhile, the wealthy, but childless Van Cleves begin adoption proceedings for the "foundlings." Sandy, in turn, tries to convince Clayton to marry her, so they can adopt the girls. Meanwhile, back in Egypt, Carla receives a letter from her father, telling her how well Clayton is taking care of her children and all the sacrifices he is making for them. Despite Clayton's dedication to the triplets, Judge Jenkins rules that the babies need a "mother," but before the court grants custody to the Van Cleves, Clayton asks for a delay in Jenkins' ruling, then goes to a college in Chicago and becomes a "certified" mother. Weeks later, Clayton returns to the court with his diploma, but Jenkins still rules against him. In desperation, Sandy enters the courtroom wearing a wedding gown, with Papa carrying a shotgun close behind her, claiming that the triplets are hers. Asked under oath if the babies are Papa's grandchildren, Clayton says "Yes," and he and Sandy are immediately married. Carla, however, issues a press release, admitting she is the mother of the triplets, but also stating that she is married to Clayton. Faced with a charge of bigamy, Clayton goes into hiding with the triplets until the truth about Carla's secret marriage to Carlos is revealed. Back in the United States, Carla informs the press that she is engaged to the pleasantly surprised Harold. Freed of all charges, Clayton begins his new life as husband to Sandy. Nine months later, Clayton is shocked to learn that he has just become the father of quintuplets. Soon thereafter, a statue of Clayton and his five babies is erected in front of the Midvale courthouse.
Helen "mitzi" Chapman
Robert [r.] Benton
C. C. Coleman Jr.
John P. Fulton
Ernest D. Glucksman
Rock-A-Bye Baby - Jerry Lewis in Frank Tashlin's ROCK-A-BYE BABY
Loosely based on Preston Sturges's script for The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944), Rock-a-bye Baby was one of eight films that director Frank Tashlin made with Jerry Lewis.
Clayton is introduced in a scene that establishes a certain cringe factor about his suitability as someone capable of nurturing. Poised on a rooftop adjusting a television antennae, Clayton is distracted by Carla's younger sister Sandra (Connie Stevens). He swings like a monkey from the wildly rotating aerial, sending a cascade of bricks down the roof in the process. Clayton manages to hit a water line repairman on the ground, sending a fire hydrant hose wildly gyrating through the streets, with more chaos ensuing.
Despite his unceasing ability to leave a trail of disaster in his wake, Clayton has somehow managed to be a ladies man, relentlessly pursued by the heartsick Sandra. Though he long ago promised his heart to big sister Carla, little sister Sandra is undaunted in her pursuit, even pulling the tubes from her television set in the middle of the night in order to lure Clayton over for a light night repair job. In one of the film's funniest moments, when Sandra's drunken father Papa Naples (Salvatore Baccaloni) -- who despises the boy and has forbidden his daughter to see him--comes home unexpectedly, Clayton saves his neck by pretending to be a succession of TV talking heads. Hiding behind the television screen, Clayton does a hilarious stream of impersonations of TV personalities, from a gruff politico to a drawling cowboy to one of Jerry Lewis's politically incorrect turns as a buck-toothed Asian weatherman.
When the triplets arrive on Clayton's doorstep, he takes to the daddy business with a remarkable avidity and skill. Rock-a-bye Baby suggests a precursor to both the never-grow-up Adam Sandler films of contemporary times as well a more recent string of Hollywood baby comedies. As in the inverted tale of three men taking care of just one baby in Leonard Nimoy's 3 Men and a Baby (1987), Rock-a-bye Baby hinges on the supposedly absurdist Hollywood set-up of men caring for children. Or as Clayton's boss Mr. Wright (Hans Conried) tells him "women are built to take such punishment, not men." During the course of the film Rock-a-bye Baby becomes a battle of the sexes as Clayton strives to prove his maternal mettle, going so far as to earn a diploma in child care in order to keep the triplets.
Not only classic Lewis, with all of the spastic hilarity one has come to expect, Rock-a-bye Baby is also prime Frank Tashlin. A man of many talents, over the course of his career Tashlin wrote children's books, the newspaper comic "Van Boring" and directed cartoons for Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies and live-action films. Legend has it that while Tashlin was working as an animator at Warner Bros., producer Leon Schlesinger found out that he was also writing the "Van Boring" comic for The Los Angeles Times and demanded a cut of the profits. When Tashlin refused, Schlesinger promptly fired him.
An understandably action-oriented director, Tashlin also possessed a knowing, clever ability to take down the sway of Madison Avenue on the American public and otherwise parody the American way of life even while making it look as glossy and sweet as hard candy. Clayton's landlady, the sweet, white-haired Miss Bessie (Ida Moore) sits for hours glued to the television where she slavishly buys and uses every product advertised, often while still watching TV. In addition to his firecracker sense of humor and canny social commentary in films like Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957) Tashlin was a superb director of mise en scene and action. It is no wonder Tashlin started out making Looney Tunes cartoons. His films explode with zany energy and the riotous colors and actions of a toon. The film is loaded with great comic bits of business like the voice of Papa Naples filling in for the voices of Clayton and a judge during a judicial hearing to determine if Clayton is a fit parent.
Also adding to Rock-a-bye Baby's considerable charm are musical numbers like the saucy, winking film-within-a-film of a curvaceous Carla as The White Virgin of the Nile dancing alongside a bevy of scantily clad chorines and buff male dancers. Also among the musical numbers is a duet between Lewis and Italian opera star Salvatore Baccaloni. A pure, daffy entertainment on many levels, Rock-a-bye Baby is as streamlined and curvy as a tail-finned Fifties sedan.
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by Felicia Feaster
Rock-A-Bye Baby - Jerry Lewis in Frank Tashlin's ROCK-A-BYE BABY
Frank Tashlin's screen story and screenplay were inspired by Paramount's 1944 comedy classic, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, which starred Eddie Bracken and Betty Hutton under the direction of Preston Sturges, who also wrote that film's original screenplay (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50) and is given an onscreen story creit on Rock-a-Bye Baby. In March 1951, Hollywood Reporter reported that George Cukor had been signed to direct a Twentieth Century-Fox production entitled Rock-a-Bye Baby, from an original screenplay by Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon. Later, in December 1952, Los Angeles Times reported that producer Hal Wallis had purchased an unproduced play by the same title and planned to adapt it into a Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis vehicle. Neither of these aborted productions, however, is related to this film.
Although the opening credits indicate that the picture marked Connie Stevens' film debut, she had appeared in two features the previous year. In numerous cases, contemporary reviews list character names that do not match those used in the film. According to the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the song "Me and My Baby," with music by Sammy Cahn and lyrics by Harry Warren, was submitted by Paramount for use in Rock-a-Bye Baby, but was not included in the released film. The image of noted comedian Jack Benny appears briefly in the film, as a photograph of "Carlos," the deceased Mexican bullfighter secretly married to "Carla Naples" and the biological father of her children. Rock-a-Bye Baby features Jerry Lewis' son Gary in a small role, that of Lewis' character "Clayton Poole" as a young boy in a musical fantasy sequence. Although Lewis' father Danny is credited in the CBCS as playing a furniture store owner, his part, as well as that of George Sanders as a master of ceremonies, was cut from the released film. Hollywood Reporter news items include Jim Maloney in the cast, but his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed.
According to March 1958 Hollywood Reporter news items, Paramount had to have the film's musical score recorded in Mexico City due to a months-long strike by Hollywood musicians. On March 19, 1958, Hollywood Reporter's "Rambling Reporter" column claimed that Lewis himself conducted the 100-piece Mexican orchestra. According to a June 3, 1958 Hollywood Reporter news item, a Los Angeles preview of the film was picketed by the still-striking musicians.
In an interview published by modern sources, writer-director Don McGuire claimed he had written a script called The Baby Doctor for Lewis soon after the two finished working together on the 1957 Paramount picture The Delicate Delinquent. After Lewis had a minor hit with his recording of the Schwartz-Young-Lewis standard "Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody," he insisted that the song be included in their planned production. McGuire refused, and later claimed that Lewis abandoned their project and went to work instead with Tashlin on Rock-a-Bye Baby. In a modern interview, Lewis stated that The Baby Doctor was merely a ten-page treatment authored by him and was registered under his name alone with the WGA. Modern sources indicate that production on the film began on November 18, 1957 and ended on January 8, 1958, and include Snub Pollard, Chester Conklin and Franklyn Farnum in the cast.
In 1963, Paramount re-released Rock-a-Bye Baby on a double bill with another Lewis vehicle, 1959's Don't Give Up the Ship.
Released in United States Summer July 1958
Released in United States Summer July 1958