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
Like the character Colonel Kenneth Penmark (Rhoda's father), several members of the cast and crew were military veterans. Most of whom served in World War II: William Hopper who played Colonel Penmark served in the Navy while actors Henry Jones and Gage Clarke were in the Army. Screenwriter John Lee Mahin and actor Frank Cady served in the U.S. Army Air Forces. Director Mervyn LeRoy worked for the government, making short public information films on such subjects as contending with bombs and putting out fires, to help prepare the country for a possible attack during the War. Some cast and crew members served in the First World War. Author William March was in the Marine Corps while cinematographer Harold Rosson served in the Army. Actor Paul Fix served in the National Guard, the regular Army and finally the Navy as a Hospital Corpsman during WWI. See more »
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 »
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 »
The devil wore dotted swiss.
Minor 1950's classic that holds up well fifty year later. The film does have its flaws. Occasionally it has the feel of a staged play--at times it seems Mrs. Penmark has to answer the door every five minutes so as to get the other major characters on screen. The Freudian psychobabble and the altered ending add an unnecessary half hour or so to the running time. And the acting can be very overwrought (although the scene in which Mrs. Penmark is screaming in the apartment as Leroy screams outside--both counterpointed by Rhoda's untalented but very loud rendition of "Au Clair de la Lune"--is a moment of high camp horror on par with anything in "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?") Still the movie works, largely because of Rhoda, the eerily self controlled little murderess who despite her sweet smiles always looks at though her hair is braided a bit too tight. It helps that an actress was cast who was cute enough, but not too pretty--Patty McCormack looks like a miniature gargoyle when she drops the sunny mask and starts roaring. Leroy, the leering simple minded caretaker is almost as unsettling--the scenes in which he sadistically taunts Rhoda almost amount to a very twisted flirtation, as he is clearly more delighted than appalled by her capacity for evil (at least until he learns just how far this capacity goes).
I haven't seen the 1980's remake, but I can't see how it could top the original, if only because evil little girls in jeans and T-shirts just aren't as scary as evil little girls with hair bows and starched frocks.
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