7.5/10
11,312
201 user 83 critic

The Bad Seed (1956)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Horror | 12 September 1956 (USA)
Trailer
3:20 | Trailer

On Disc

at Amazon

A housewife suspects that her seemingly perfect eight year-old daughter is a heartless killer.

Director:

Mervyn LeRoy

Writers:

John Lee Mahin (screenplay), Maxwell Anderson (play) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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 Joan Croydon ... Claudia Fern (as Joan Croyden)
Frank Cady ... 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:

A WOMAN'S SHAME...Out in the Open! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 September 1956 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Bad Seed See more »

Filming Locations:

Burbank, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Features the only Oscar nominated performances of Nancy Kelly and Patty McCormack. See more »

Goofs

When Leroy goes down to the incinerator after talking to Rhoda. As he opens the incinerator he goes to a lot of trouble not to be burned by the metal doors. But when he gets the doors open. After that, he just reaches right in and grabs the soles of the shoes right out of the apparently hot incinerator. See more »

Quotes

Rhoda: Mother, when we move into our new house, can we have a scuppernong arbor?
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 Riverdale: Chapter Twenty-Four: The Wrestler (2018) 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

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User Reviews

An Unusual & Effective Thriller
27 July 2004 | by Snow LeopardSee all my reviews

With some familiar elements of classic thrillers plus some creative turns, this is an unusual and effective thriller. Patty McCormack is memorable as young Rhoda, and the rest of the cast succeed in making their characters react believably to some nearly unbelievable situations. The story moves slowly enough to build suspense carefully, while still holding your interest the whole time.

For this kind of story to work, it has to keep the tension and uncertainty without becoming obviously implausible or annoyingly overplayed. In "The Bad Seed", we see the tension and fear that build in the characters as the story develops, but events also unfold within an atmosphere that otherwise would be peaceful and normal, making for an interesting contrast that helps to maintain a good balance.

Unlike the many banal movies made in recent years about serial killers and the like, "The Bad Seed" also contains some substance. The characters, especially the mother (played by Nancy Kelly), not only have to make difficult decisions, but also must fearfully attempt to understand the reasons for everything. It's a good example of how well a thriller can work when carefully made without a lot of extraneous elements, and it's a demonstration that a movie can have a tense, dark story without being shallow or superficial at the same time.


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