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The Bad Seed (1956)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Horror, Mystery  |  12 September 1956 (USA)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 8,719 users  
Reviews: 164 user | 77 critic

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

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(screenplay), (play), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Bad Seed (1956)

The Bad Seed (1956) on IMDb 7.5/10

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

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A publicity man tries to hide a child film star's brattiness from a magazine writer, who happens to be his ex-wife.

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Cast

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

Plot Keywords:

colonel | dream | truth | medal | lying | See All (83) »

Taglines:

Talk all you want about the man and the woman -- but please don't tell about the girl! 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:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Bette Davis had expressed interest in playing Christine Penmark, but director Mervyn LeRoy insisted on casting Nancy Kelly, who had originated the role on stage. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

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

"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 NCIS: Child's Play (2009) 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
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.


14 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Leroy was kinda stupid! barbbeck
Eileen Heckart's performance middsgo-956-41818
Nancy Kelly - 35 years old - good God! cadrega_82
How do we know that the mother survived? waldenpond88
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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