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Cry-Baby (1990) is a teen-musical film directed by John Waters. It stars Johnny Depp as 1950s teen rebel "Cry-Baby" Wade Walker, and also features an expansive ensemble cast that includes Iggy Pop, Traci Lords, Ricki Lake, David Nelson, Susan Tyrrell and Patty Hearst. This film did not achieve high audience numbers in its initial release but has subsequently become a cult classic and spawned a hit Broadwaymarker musical of the same name which was nominated for some Tony Awards.

The film is a parody of teen musicals such as Grease, of Elvis Presley movies, and of 1950s 'juvenile delinquent' movies such as The Wild One, Blackboard Jungle and (specifically) Rebel Without a Cause. (Johnny Depp has said more than once that he took the role to poke fun at the teen-idol hysteria surrounding him during his days on the TV show 21 Jump Street ). It centers on a group of delinquents named the Drapes and their interaction with the rest of the town and its other subculture, the Squares, in 1950s Baltimore, Marylandmarker. "Cry-Baby" Walker, a Drape, and Allison, a Square, create upheaval and turmoil in their little town of Baltimoremarker by breaking the subculture taboos and falling in love. The movie shows what the young couple have 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 Forestmarker amusement park in Ellicott City, Marylandmarker.

The film is rated PG-13 in the United States. It was Waters' second mainstream film after Hairspray, following his earlier R- and X-rated independent films.


In Baltimoremarker in 1954, "Cry-Baby" Wade Walker is the leader of a gang of "Drapes". His ability to shed a 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.

Despite Allison's grandmother being skeptical, Allison stays and sings with the Drapes. Allison's jealous square boyfriend Baldwin starts a riot at the local Drape hangout, Turkey Point. Cry-Baby is blamed for the fighting 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, 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 against rushing into a decision. Meanwhile, in the penitentiary, Crybaby gets a teardrop tattoo. He tells the tattoo artist: "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, 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 challenges him to a chicken race. Cry-Baby wins, as Baldwin chickens out, and is reunited with Allison.


Role Played by
Wade "Cry-Baby" Walker Johnny Depp
Allison Vernon-Williams Amy Locane
Mrs Vernon-Williams, Allison's grandmother Polly Bergen
Ramona Rickettes, Cry-Baby's grandmother Susan Tyrrell
Belvedere Rickettes, Cry-Baby's uncle Iggy Pop
Pepper Walker, Cry-Baby's sister Ricki Lake
Wanda Woodward Traci Lords
Mona "Hatchet-Face" Malnorowski Kim McGuire
Milton Hackett, Mona's boyfriend Darren E. Burrows
Lenora Frigid Kim Webb
Baldwin, Allison's boyfriend Stephen Mailer
Snare-Drum, Pepper's son Jonathan Benya
Susie Q., Pepper's daughter Jessica Raskin
Mr Malnorowski Troy Donahue
Mrs Malnorowski Mink Stole
Mr Hackett Joe Dallesandro
Mrs Hackett Joey Heatherton
Mr Woodward David Nelson
Mrs Woodward Patricia Hearst
Penitentiary Guard Willem Dafoe
Picnic Mom Mary Vivian Pearce
Mama's little helper Brian Patrick Cassell


Songs sung by characters

  • "Sh-Boom" - Baldwin and the Whiffles
  • "A Teenage Prayer" - Allison/Rachel Sweet
  • "Chicken" - Baldwin and the Whiffles (only in USA cable network version)
  • "King Cry-Baby" - Cry-Baby, Allison/Rachel Sweet, Hatchet-Face, Milton, Pepper and Wanda
  • "Teardrops Are Falling" - Cry-Baby and Prisoners
  • "The Naughty Lady from Shady Lane" - Baldwin and the Whiffles (only in Director's Cut DVD and in in USA cable network version)
  • "Doin' Time for Bein' Young" (J. D. Souther, Waddy Wachtel) - Cry-Baby and Prisoners
  • "Mr. Sandman" - Baldwin and the Whiffles
  • "Please, Mr. Jailer" - Allison/Rachel Sweet, Cry-Baby and Company
  • "High School Hellcats" - Cry-Baby, Allison/Rachel Sweet and Company

Songs sung by other artists

Songs not included in the soundtrack

DVD release

The original cut (85 min.) is rated PG-13 and only available on video, while the director's cut (91 min.) is unrated and available on DVD. The DVD also includes a making-of, deleted scenes, and an audio commentary by John Waters.

The director's cut adds the following scenes:
  • Extra dialogue between Wanda, her parents, and the foreign exchange student Inga (includes Wanda's "boys with roamin' hands and rushin' fingers!")
  • Toe-Joe Jackson gets more dialogue at Turkey Point.
  • Hatchet-Face's parents are selling cigarettes to students outside the high school (also present in TV version).
  • Allison gets a third verse for "A Teenage Prayer", followed by an air raid drill at the RSVP charm school.
  • Baldwin and the Whiffles get an extra song called "The Naughty Lady from Shady Lane" which they sing after their march to Allison's house.
  • Extra footage of Cry-Baby riding his motorcycle to the charm school and a cop pursuing him.
  • Extra footage of Hatchet-Face chasing Susie Q. and Snare-Drum through the Rickettes' yard.

It also includes the deleted scenes:
  • Toe-Joe has Wanda and several other people locked in a warehouse taking photos of them, then forcing them to have sex with him.
  • A cut song "Chicken" by Baldwin and the Whiffles, performed during another jukebox jamboree.
  • An extended version of the escape from the orphanage scene.

Release and box office

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

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 only $8,266,343 by the end of its theatrical run, thus not recouping the estimated $12 million budget. However, thanks to the presence of Johnny Depp, Cry-Baby has since proven lucrative on television, video, and DVD.

Screen to stage

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 Playhousemarker (California) as part of their 2007 season, as well as shadow-cast at the Nuart Theatre by Sins O' the Flesh.


  1. Cry-Baby (1990)
  2. Dreamland News: Filmography: Cry Baby

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