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The Bad Seed (1956)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Horror | 12 September 1956 (USA)
3:20 | Trailer

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



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



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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 <albl@inforamp.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

colonel | dream | death | medal | lying | See All (87) »


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?


Final theatrical film of Nancy Kelly. Despite earning an Oscar nomination for this film, she never made another theatrical movie, only focusing on TV projects. See more »


When Leroy goes down to the incinerator after talking to Rhoda. As he opens the incinerator he goes to a lot of trouble not to be burned by the metal doors. But when he gets the doors open. After that, he just reaches right in and grabs the soles of the shoes right out of the apparently hot incinerator. See more »


Christine Penmark: Did she kill him? But she's my little girl. And I love her. Oh my baby, my baby!
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 »


Featured in Deadly Friend (1986) 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

Vividly memorable
27 August 2001 | by (Leonia, NJ) – See all my reviews

My daughter, Rachel, always found this the most frightening movie she ever saw, and from a psychological perspective, it's easy to see why. Patty McCormack is magnificent as charming but evil first-grader Rhoda Penmark. Nancy Kelly is terrific in some scenes, but almost comically overwrought in others, as Rhoda's gradually terrified mother. Paul Fix deserves special mention in a strong performance as Kelly's father. And, Eileen Heckart is also a standout as the grief-stricken mother of a boy that we suspect Rhoda of killing. But, my personal favorite character is LeRoy, incredibly portrayed by Henry Jones. This is a characters I have never forgotten from the moment I first saw this one in the late 50's.

"That Rhoda is smart, almost as smart as me", he repeats for the camera several times in obsessive fashion. The ending which differed from the play has disturbed a lot of purists, but I think it has a lot of merit. Altogether, I give it 8 out of 10, very memorable and extremely well done.

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Message Boards

Recent Posts
Was the spanking part of the curtain call in the Broadway production? mcbrbb
Leroy was kinda stupid! barbbeck
A comedy? lillimarlene
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
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