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The Bad Seed (1956)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Horror | 12 September 1956 (USA)
A housewife suspects that her seemingly perfect eight year-old daughter is a heartless killer.

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(screenplay), (play) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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 <albl@inforamp.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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"The Bad Seed" is the big shocker! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

12 September 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La mala semilla  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The original Broadway production of "The Bad Seed" by Maxwell Anderson opened on December 8, 1954 and ran for 334 performances. Nancy Kelly won the 1955 Tony Award for Actress in a Drama for "The Bad Seed" and recreated her role in the movie. Patty McCormack, Eileen Heckart, Evelyn Varden, Henry Jones and Joan Croydon also recreated their stage roles in the movie version. See more »

Goofs

While Christine is reading a bedtime story to sleepy Rhoda, Rhoda's pigtails change positions multiple times between shots. See more »

Quotes

Rhoda: You figured out something that never happened and so it's all lies!
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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 »

Connections

Referenced in Relative Fear (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

Au clair de la lune
(uncredited)
Attributed to Jean-Baptiste Lully
Played on the piano by Patty McCormack and whistled by Henry Jones
Played often in the score
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Frequently Asked Questions

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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.


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