The Bad Seed (1956)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Drama, Horror  |  12 September 1956 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.5/10 from 9,205 users  
Reviews: 167 user | 77 critic

A housewife suspects that her seemingly perfect 8-year-old daughter is a heartless killer.



(screenplay), (play), 1 more credit »
Watch Trailer
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.00 on Amazon Video

Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

The Bad Seed (TV Movie 1985)
Drama | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

Freak fatal accidents force a widow to realize her precocious 9-year-old daughter was born to kill.

Director: Paul Wendkos
Stars: Blair Brown, Lynn Redgrave, David Carradine
Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In the English village of Midwich, the blond-haired, glowing-eyed children of uncertain paternity prove to have frightening powers.

Director: Wolf Rilla
Stars: George Sanders, Barbara Shelley, Martin Stephens
The Nanny (1965)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

There's just something not quite right when Bette Davis stars as an English nanny. And is her 10 year-old charge an emotionally disturbed murderer or just an insolent brat?

Director: Seth Holt
Stars: Bette Davis, Wendy Craig, Jill Bennett
Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Scientists discovers that there are six children who each have an enormous intelligence. The children are flown to London to be studied, but they each escape their embassy and gather in a ... See full summary »

Director: Anton Leader
Stars: Ian Hendry, Alan Badel, Barbara Ferris
The Innocents (1961)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A young governess for two children becomes convinced that the house and grounds are haunted.

Director: Jack Clayton
Stars: Deborah Kerr, Peter Wyngarde, Megs Jenkins
Horror | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Dr. John Holden ventures to London to attend a paranormal psychology symposium with the intention to expose devil cult leader, Julian Karswell. Holden is a skeptic and does not believe in ... See full summary »

Director: Jacques Tourneur
Stars: Dana Andrews, Peggy Cummins, Niall MacGinnis
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A former child star torments her crippled sister in a decaying Hollywood mansion.

Director: Robert Aldrich
Stars: Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Victor Buono
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

An aging, reclusive southern belle, plagued by a horrifying family secret, descends into madness after the arrival of a lost relative.

Director: Robert Aldrich
Stars: Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Joseph Cotten
The Other (1972)
Drama | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Down in the farm country of the US twins are born. One of them turns out to be good, while the other becomes rather evil.

Director: Robert Mulligan
Stars: Uta Hagen, Diana Muldaur, Chris Udvarnoky
Dead of Night (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

An architect senses impending doom as his half-remembered recurring dream turns into reality. The guests at the country house encourage him to stay as they take turns telling supernatural tales.

Directors: Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, and 2 more credits »
Stars: Mervyn Johns, Michael Redgrave, Roland Culver
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A waitress, a hobo and a bank robber get mixed up at a lonely diner in the desert.

Director: Archie Mayo
Stars: Leslie Howard, Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis


Complete credited cast:
Evelyn Varden ...
Gage Clarke ...
Joan Croydon ...
Claudia Fern (as Joan Croyden)
Henry Daigle


Christine Penmark seems to have it all: a lovely home, a loving husband and the most "perfect" daughter in the world. But since childhood, Christine has suffered from the most terrible recurring nightmare. And her "perfect" daughter's accomplishments include lying, theft and possibly much, much worse. Only Christine knows the truth about her daughter and only Christine's father knows the truth about her nightmare. Written by A.L.Beneteau <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

colonel | dream | death | medal | lying | See All (85) »


A WOMAN'S SHAME...Out in the Open! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

12 September 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La mala semilla  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Billy Wilder wanted to direct a film version based on the successful play, but couldn't get permission from the Production Code Administration. They objected because in his version her crimes went unpunished. See more »


At the end of the arbor scene, as Rhoda's mother is calling her, in the shot taken from inside the arbor the pile of excelsior is almost entirely on the lawn, but in the reverse shot showing it from Christine's perspective through the window, the excelsior is on the dirt or paved area next to the lawn. See more »


Rhoda: What will you give me for a basket of kisses?
Col. Kenneth Penmark: A basket of kisses? Why, I'll give you a basket of hugs!
See more »

Crazy Credits

"You have just seen a motion picture whose theme dares to be startlingly different. May we ask that you do not divulge the unusual climax of the story. Thank you." See more »


Referenced in Gilmore Girls: Raincoats and Recipes (2004) See more »


Au clair de la lune
Attributed to Jean-Baptiste Lully
Played on the piano by Patty McCormack and whistled by Henry Jones
Played often in the score
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

An Unusual & Effective Thriller
27 July 2004 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

With some familiar elements of classic thrillers plus some creative turns, this is an unusual and effective thriller. Patty McCormack is memorable as young Rhoda, and the rest of the cast succeed in making their characters react believably to some nearly unbelievable situations. The story moves slowly enough to build suspense carefully, while still holding your interest the whole time.

For this kind of story to work, it has to keep the tension and uncertainty without becoming obviously implausible or annoyingly overplayed. In "The Bad Seed", we see the tension and fear that build in the characters as the story develops, but events also unfold within an atmosphere that otherwise would be peaceful and normal, making for an interesting contrast that helps to maintain a good balance.

Unlike the many banal movies made in recent years about serial killers and the like, "The Bad Seed" also contains some substance. The characters, especially the mother (played by Nancy Kelly), not only have to make difficult decisions, but also must fearfully attempt to understand the reasons for everything. It's a good example of how well a thriller can work when carefully made without a lot of extraneous elements, and it's a demonstration that a movie can have a tense, dark story without being shallow or superficial at the same time.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Was the spanking part of the curtain call in the Broadway production? mcbrbb
Leroy was kinda stupid! barbbeck
Eileen Heckart's performance middsgo-956-41818
Nancy Kelly - 35 years old - good God! cadrega_82
Who do you think should play 'Rhoda' if they ever made a Remake? gitano_apo
What was the Original ending? potato2
Discuss The Bad Seed (1956) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: