IMDb > The Bad Seed (1956)
The Bad Seed
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The Bad Seed (1956) More at IMDbPro »

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The Bad Seed -- Trailer for this incredible story of an evil little girl

Overview

User Rating:
7.5/10   7,985 votes »
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Director:
Writers:
John Lee Mahin (screenplay)
Maxwell Anderson (play)
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for The Bad Seed on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
12 September 1956 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
A WOMAN'S SHAME...Out in the Open! See more »
Plot:
A housewife suspects that her seemingly perfect 8-year-old daughter is a heartless killer. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 1 win & 1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
Though Flawed and Stagy, Still Chilling After all These Years - Part One See more (155 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Nancy Kelly ... Christine Penmark

Patty McCormack ... Rhoda Penmark

Henry Jones ... Leroy Jessup

Eileen Heckart ... Hortense Daigle
Evelyn Varden ... Monica Breedlove

William Hopper ... Col. Kenneth Penmark

Paul Fix ... Richard Bravo
Jesse White ... Emory Wages
Gage Clarke ... Reginald 'Reggie' Tasker
Joan Croydon ... Claudia Fern (as Joan Croyden)

Frank Cady ... Henry Daigle
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Frances Bavier ... Woman in dinner party scene (uncredited)
Violet Cane ... Teacher (uncredited)
Vivian Clermont ... Mary Beth Musgrove (uncredited)

Shelley Fabares ... Margie (uncredited)

Kathy Garver ... Rhoda's Classmate (uncredited)
Don C. Harvey ... Guard in Hospital Corridor (uncredited)
Edna Holland ... Saleslady (uncredited)
Dayton Lummis ... The Doctor (uncredited)
Natalie Masters ... Nurse (uncredited)
Patricia Morrow ... Ginny (uncredited)
Adele Taylor ... Teacher (uncredited)
John Truax ... The Sergeant (uncredited)
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Directed by
Mervyn LeRoy 
 
Writing credits
John Lee Mahin (screenplay)

Maxwell Anderson (play)

William March (novel)

Produced by
Mervyn LeRoy .... producer
 
Original Music by
Alex North 
 
Cinematography by
Harold Rosson  (as Hal Rosson)
 
Film Editing by
Warren Low 
 
Casting by
Hoyt Bowers (uncredited)
 
Art Direction by
John Beckman 
 
Set Decoration by
Ralph S. Hurst  (as Ralph Hurst)
 
Costume Design by
Moss Mabry 
 
Makeup Department
Ruby Felker .... hairdresser (uncredited)
George Lane .... makeup artist (uncredited)
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Mel Dellar .... assistant director
Rusty Meek .... assistant director (uncredited)
 
Art Department
Gene Delaney .... assistant props (uncredited)
Donald P. Desmond .... set construction (uncredited)
John Gilbert Kissel .... master props (uncredited)
Sol Litt .... laborer (uncredited)
David Marshall .... draper (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
Stanley Jones .... sound
Al Cavigga .... sound editor (uncredited)
Michael Colgan .... sound editor (uncredited)
Eugene Marks .... sound editor (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Warren E. Boes .... best boy (uncredited)
Howard Claire .... second grip (uncredited)
Pat Clark .... still photographer (uncredited)
Frank Evans .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Charles Harris .... head grip (uncredited)
Frank V. Phillips .... camera operator (uncredited)
Lee Wilson .... gaffer (uncredited)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Florence Albert .... wardrobe: women (uncredited)
Joan Joseff .... costume jeweller (uncredited)
Leon Roberts .... costumer: men (uncredited)
 
Editorial Department
Russell McCord .... assistant cutter (uncredited)
 
Music Department
Maurice De Packh .... orchestrator (as Maurice de Packh)
 
Other crew
Barbara Dunton .... welfare teacher (uncredited)
Joe Halperin .... unit publicist (uncredited)
Doris Peoples .... secretary: Mervyn LeRoy (uncredited)
Meta Rebner .... script supervisor (uncredited)
 
Crew believed to be complete


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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
129 min
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (RCA Sound Recording)
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Although stage actress Joan Croydon (Miss Fern) made a few television appearances, this was her only film appearance.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: When Leroy is telling Rhoda that blood can't be washed off of a stick, in the shot taken facing Rhoda she is leaning on the table with both hands, but as soon it switches to a shot from her right side, she's standing upright with her arms bent.See more »
Quotes:
Christine Penmark:Rhoda, what happened to old Mrs. Post in Wichita?
Rhoda:There was ice on the steps and I slipped and fell against her, and that was all.
Christine Penmark:That was all?
Rhoda:No. I slipped on purpose.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in The Brady Bunch Movie (1995)See more »
Soundtrack:
Au clair de la luneSee more »

FAQ

Is there anything after the credits?
How closely does the movie follow the novel?
Any recommendations for other movies like "The Bad Seed"?
See more »
46 out of 58 people found the following review useful.
Though Flawed and Stagy, Still Chilling After all These Years - Part One, 11 December 2004
Author: mmitsos-1 from Oak Brook

I saw "The Bad Seed" years ago, circa 1970, for the first time, and have seen it periodically over the years. When I first saw the film, as a child, I found the film, expectedly, quite chilling.

I saw it again this afternoon, after not having seen it for about three years, and still find it quite disturbing. Now that we have IMDb, I decided to offer my thoughts. And so, I was shocked to find SO MANY comments about it...more than for any other film that I've reviewed on IMDb to date. If I add anything of unique value, great. If not, I'm happy to share my review anyway.

Certainly, there are flaws, or perhaps only "unique differences", in this film. Primarily, it can very easily be considered a filmed play, as the staging, the dialog, and the entrances and exits of the characters throughout the film seem to be lifted directly from the stage version. Therefore, some may find the film a bit too sterile or unnatural in many ways. However, I think it is this very sterile, staged, stark-from-a-production-standpoint quality that gives the film an even eerier and in some ways far more realistic edge than might be found were it to be produced today for film, with far more slick and sophisticated sets, dialog, camera work, etc. The realism and pronounced disturbing quality of this version stems from the simple story itself, the psychological horror of which could be in some ways obfuscated from a much more sophisticated, big-studio, modern-day production.

As for the subject matter itself, I know that the number of cases, historically, involving child murderers is actually low. Therefore, some critics have argued that to take a relatively rare phenomenon, such as the child murderer, and build a motion picture around it, portraying it in the vein of plausibility, can be misleading and dangerous, giving the impression, especially to younger viewers, that child criminals are more commonplace than you may think. I wholeheartedly reject this notion. The whole purpose of acting is to portray the entire range of the human condition with as much truth as possible, no matter how rare or commonplace certain aspects of human behavior might be. Though child murderers may be few in number, it's an area worthy of as much exploration, in film, as is an ugly, unrealistic alien telling us to "phone home" or the sinking of the Titanic.

Even though this film possesses a definite "campy", staged, and perhaps even "cult" quality, it is chillingly effective. One reason for which this film works is due to the character of Rhoda herself, played by Patty McCormack. The smiling, blond, blue-eyed veneer of the child juxtaposed with the idea of her criminal potential (and actions) is just plain "creepy". Moreover, the less you see, in terms of the actual crimes she commits, the more you conjure. And, you continually wonder who her next victim will be. Furthermore, you wonder how many people will eventually "come on to her" and become aware of whom she is, and how that knowledge will affect their fate.

Another reason for which this film works is because of the mother, Christine, played by Nancy Kelly. As we slowly watch her become aware of what has become of her daughter, we can't help but empathize with her predicament and her decision in handling it. The first few times I saw the film, just as I felt that Patty McCormack's portrayal and dialog delivery were probably mere replicas of what she offered on stage, I felt that Nancy Kelly's performance was affected and probably lifted directly from her work on the stage (I've never seen a stage version, nor have I read the book, yet). But in the case of Ms. Kelly, watching her realize what she has ultimately given birth to and raised is very heart wrenching. Moreover, I have always wondered if the use of her right hand was a direction given to her by either of her directors (for play or film), or if it was something she came up with herself. Two instances come to mind.

In the first one, the manner in which she hits the table with her right hand as she listens to what is happening outside near her shed while Rhoda plays "Au Claire de la Lune" on her piano is very pronounced, appears somewhat odd and is perhaps symbolic. She seemed to be pounding her hand not only in outward denial and anger at the realization she now has of what her child is capable of committing, but as a means to torture and punish herself for having given birth to her in the first place. In the second instance, Nancy Kelly used her right hand again in a very pronounced manner when she offers Rhoda her vitamins "that night". Again, I couldn't help but wonder what symbolism she wanted us to draw from her gesture. It might be said that this very hand, which once comforted and fed her child all her life, has now become the tool that feeds the ultimate fate of her child toward the end of the film. (Again, not having read it, I have a fairly good idea how the book ends).

As for how the ending/epilogue in the film was handled, practically everyone on this site who has offered a review knows that the use of the "casting call" was basically dictated by the mandates of the Hays Code. I'll just add that I find that the chilling effect of the story carries over to this bizarre "epilogue". I still find it a bit unsettling to see each of these actors take their bows, especially considering that some of the characters they portrayed would, in my estimation, appear stranger to a child than does Rhoda....particularly Leroy, when he bows to the viewing audience carrying his large pitchfork.

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Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for The Bad Seed (1956)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Leroy was kinda stupid! barbbeck
Eileen Heckart's performance middsgo-956-41818
Does Anyone Empathize with Rhoda? andersensister
The movie versus the book johanlouwet78
Asking for a spoiler!! susanemccool
Asking for ultimate spoiler susanemccool
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