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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 8,607 users  
Reviews: 163 user | 76 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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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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...
...
...
Evelyn Varden ...
...
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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

Leroy: You want to know what you done after you hit him? You jerked the medal off his shirt and then you rolled that sweet little boy off that wharf from under them pilings.
Rhoda: You don't know anything. None of what you've said is true.
Leroy: You know I'm telling the gospel truth. You know I got it figured out.
Rhoda: You've figured out something that never happened. And so it's all lies. Now take your excelsior to the basement and put it where you can sleep on it when you are supposed to be working.
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 »

Connections

Referenced in Stargate: Atlantis: Harmony (2008) 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

Another '50s movie way ahead of its time!!!
16 August 2003 | by (Morro Bay, Hammett Valley, Twin Rocks) – See all my reviews

As the closing statement says, "This motion picture presents a premise that is daringly different."

It may seem to be a self-indulgent thing to say, but in 1956, a film about an angelic looking child named Rhoda Penmark (the remarkable Patty McCormack, whose performance is absolutely brilliant, vicious, and mercurial...she transforms with ease from a sweetie-pie to a bristling monster and back to a sweetie-pie), complete with cutesy dresses, disarming curtsies, and blonde braids, who in fact is a homicidal, amoral murderer, was indeed "daringly different". After the generation of Shirley Temple's angelic dresses and bouncy curles and darling dimples, the idea of a perfectly beautiful little girl being a chillingly cold killer is unnerving to say the least. I love this movie, the controversy surrounding its theme: is a murderous personality inherited???

The book HIDEAWAY by Dean Koontz may have been inspired by this classic B&W film. Koontz describes the malefactor in that book in much the same way little Rhoda is contemplated in this film. Something missing in their genetic codes. "The fundementals of nucleotides, DNA proteins..."

As in HIDEAWAY, where the reader was shocked to discover that Vassago's grandpa was a maniac who slaughtered his family, we discover in THE BAD SEED that there was a grandmother back in Christine's (Nancy Kelly) family who methodically murdered her own brood and then calmly left the country, never to be heard from again.

Just the sight of little Rhoda in that infamous scene with the ex-con/yardman LeRoy is enough to have your hair standing on end: "YOU GIVE ME MY SHOES!!! THEY'RE MINE!!! GIVE THEM TO ME NOW, LEROY!!! RIGHT HERE TO ME!!!" Ooh!!! {{{Shiver}}}!!! That is one nasty little seed, that is!!! And not one any sensible person would dare mess with. Poor LeRoy learns this the hard way.

Not a film for the easily upset or faintish. It's not a horror movie, but laden with truly horrific scenes. The "daringly different" premise is brilliant and far ahead of its time of the sweet, Mrs. Cleaver 1950s.

A+


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Message Boards

Recent Posts
Does Anyone Empathize with Rhoda? andersensister
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
How do we know that the mother survived? waldenpond88
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