The Bad Seed (1956)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Drama, Horror  |  12 September 1956 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 9,200 users  
Reviews: 168 user | 77 critic

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



(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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Complete credited cast:
Evelyn Varden ...
Jesse White ...
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) »


What would you do if you were cursed with "The Bad Seed"? 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 »


When Christine scolds Rhoda for asking for a garnet as well as a turquoise, the reflection of someone, probably Mervyn LeRoy, sitting in a chair with his legs crossed is visible in the coffee pot. Addition: Just to the left of the reflection that is assumed to be LeRoy you can see other crew members moving in the shadow of the door-frame reflected in the coffee pot. See more »


Christine Penmark: This is my daughter, Rhoda.
Reginald 'Reggie' Tasker: Hello, Rhoda. Well, isn't she a little sweetheart!
Rhoda: Thank you.
[she curtsies]
Reginald 'Reggie' Tasker: That's the kind of thing that makes an old bachelor wish he were married.
Rhoda: Oh, you like little girls to curtsy?
Reginald 'Reggie' Tasker: The best thing left out of the Middle Ages.
Rhoda: I'm having dinner upstairs.
Reginald 'Reggie' Tasker: The loss is ours. All ours.
Christine Penmark: You may go now, Rhoda.
See more »

Crazy Credits

After the finale, a narrator tells the audience "One moment please. And now our wonderful cast." Then, the principal cast members are introduced one by one, like they would be at the end of a play. After that's done with, there's a brief scene in which Nancy Kelly spanks Patty McCormack. See more »


Referenced in The Brady Bunch Movie (1995) 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

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User Reviews

Very good
5 August 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I thought this movie was made very well. Despite what another had commented about this movie, I do feel that her facial expressions were very much eerie and the girl did a very good job as "the bad seed". The way she would look and smile whenever she lied made me think about how bad of a person she was and the look in her eyes also would show how she knew that she could manipulate anyone who got in her way. feel that for it's time it was a very good movie. It had to do something right, since it was nominated for an Oscar. So in all despite the comment prior to this one, I do feel that it was a very good movie. I thought that the ending was good too, since it gave people a sense of reality to the people who played the characters(some can't see past a character that a person plays).

14 of 21 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
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