7.5/10
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195 user 80 critic

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.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (play) | 1 more credit »
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ON DISC
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

Taglines:

For little Rhoda, murder is child's play. 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:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Warner Brothers production notes for the film reported that three endings were shot. According to a November 1955 article in the Los Angeles Times, the end of the film was kept secret and the last five pages of the script were not distributed until ready to shoot. 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

Hortense Daigle: [drunkenly] I just want to have a talk with your little girl. She was one of the last to see my Claude alive.
Christine Penmark: I know.
Hortense Daigle: Where do you keep the perfect little lady who was the last to see Claude? I thought I'd hold her in my arms and we'd have a little talk where maybe she'd remember some little thing... any little thing.
Christine Penmark: She's out playing, I think.
Hortense Daigle: Well, I'm unfortunate, that's all. Drunk and unfortunate, ladies and gentlemen.
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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 »


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

 
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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