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The Bad Seed (1956)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Drama, Horror  |  12 September 1956 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 9,020 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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Title: The Bad Seed (1956)

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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 | truth | medal | lying | See All (86) »


"The Bad Seed" is the big shocker! 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 Penmark and Monica Breedlove fetch the locket, Christine hands it to Monica. When Monica leaves the bedroom a crewman's hand holding a cloth is seen at the bottom left of the bedroom door. See more »


Leroy: You ask me and I say you don't even feel sorry for what happened to that little boy.
Rhoda: Why should I feel sorry? It was Claude Daigle who got drowned, not me!
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 »


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

Eileen Heckart Is Heartbreaking ....
31 October 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

as the mother of the drowned boy.... a performance that must rank with the best of the 1950s. Heckart repeated her stage role in the 1956 film with Nancy Kelly and Patty McCormack as the mother and daughter. Henry Jones (also in the stage production and excellent), Evelyn Varden, Gage Clarke, Paul Fix, Joan Croyden and Jesse White are good in support. Jones and Varden are especially good. William Hopper is and always was BLAH. But Eileen Heckart is superb as the drunken, crushed woman who knows there is something more to her son's death than she is being told. Her two scenes are riveting as she lurches across the room, begging for information, yet totally in control of the situation. Kelly, McCormack, Jones, and Varden are also good (if stagy) in their roles. Kelly seems hopelessly hammy but grows on you even though she seems to be imitating Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard most of the time. Great film, literate, interesting, riveting..... a must!

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Message Boards

Recent Posts
Eileen Heckart's performance middsgo-956-41818
Leroy was kinda stupid! barbbeck
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
What was the book that Christine was reading to Rhoda? calico8883
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