The Cry Baby Killer

Buena Vista Home Entertainment

This low-budget 1958 Roger Corman production is mainly notable as the cinematic debut of 21-year-old Jack Nicholson, who met Corman in an acting class. The future three-time Oscar winner plays Jimmy Wallace, a clean-cut kid who shoots a teenage hoodlum over a girl. Jimmy thinks he killed the hood, so he takes a few hostages and spends the better part of the film’s 61 minutes brooding about it. Meanwhile, TV cameras and ghoulish onlookers are attracted like flies. Veteran character actor Harry Lauter (who had over 270 TV and film credits to his name) arrives on the scene as a sort of primeval hostage negotiator, but it’s 1958, so he just wears a hat and pushes everyone around. The Cry Baby Killer is entertaining given its shoestring budget, and Nicholson is compellingly green.