The Bad Seed (1956)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Drama, Horror  |  12 September 1956 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 9,210 users  
Reviews: 167 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 ...
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) »


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


Rosalind Russell was originally considered for the role of Christine Penmark (played by Nancy Kelly), until the studio decided to go with the Broadway cast. See more »


Shortly before Richard Bravo enters, Mrs. Penmark fixes Mr. Tasker a gin and tonic. Tasker takes the drink with his right hand, but when the shot changes slightly, he's suddenly holding the drink with his left hand and leaning on the cart with his right. See more »


Hortense Daigle: I'm drunk. It's a pleasure to stay drunk when your little boy's been killed.
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 Awkward.: The Bad Seed (2013) 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

13 July 2001 | by (Lexington KY) – See all my reviews

I was blown away! I was at the edge of my seat the whole time. Those people gave me the creeps. I was just flipping through the channels when I came across it. Normally I'll change the channel after a minute or two to see what else is on, but not when I saw this movie! I was so terrified, I sat through the whole movie, uninterrupted. I'm shivering just thinking about it right now!

28 of 39 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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