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The Bad Seed

The Bad Seed(1956)

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  • Where's the Metal?!!!

    • Foley Z
    • 6/20/19

    Eileen Heckert, wonderful! Patty incredibly chilling performance. What an amazing little actress! Takes place in an era that has passed. The military wife and daughter living in this nice, sunny apartment. No job to go to. Friendly neighbors. The little girl practicing piano instead of sitting and playing video games and gaping at her phone hour after hour. And the never see gore....ripped off limbs. Yet, very scary. Love when Rhoda is petting her mother and saying "I've got the prettiest mother!" Aarrrrghhhh!

  • A Great Thriller......

    • ja661
    • 2/16/19

    The Bad Seed is the kind of thriller they don't make anymore. The child is evil with a capital "E". The child kills people - BUT - you don't SEE her kill them; you hear about this. All the while, her tormented mother is putting the pieces together and can't handle it. There is a degree of over-acting by Nancy Kelly, but I'm not totally sure if playing it down would accomplish the same thing. It really doesn't matter though because the supporting cast is outstanding = all of them. Bill Hopper as the Husband. Evelyn Varden as the Landlady who could see no wrong in Rhoda, yet she was inferred as Rhoda's next victim. Henry Jones as the poor white trash custodian who had too big a mouth and loved to cause trouble. Last, but definitely not least, Eileen Heckert and Patty McCormick. I am hard pressed to figure out how Dorothy Malone won an Oscar over these two performances. Drunken Mrs. Daigle and a sweet little girl that radiates evil thru her eyes and smile. The ending is pathos straight out of a Hitchcock movie - and a deserving ending it is.on my scale 1-100, this is an 89.

  • Most Reviewers Don't Understand This Film

    • Joe Pearce
    • 10/28/18

    Practically everybody writing on this film, even when they love it, seems to find fault with Nancy Kelly as the mother. Kelly made a handful of films in her early years, and then spent the rest of her career on Broadway, where nobody ever considered her as anything but a superb actress. The problem with this film is that apparently Mervyn LeRoy wanted his performers, many of whom had been in the original Broadway production, to repeat their Broadway performances rather than tone them down a bit for the screen, so if anyone is to blame for stagey performances, it is probably him. With the exceptions of Paul Fix and Gage Clarke, just about everybody in this film overacts with a vengeance, and if Patty McCormack does not do so, she stills speaks her lines at the top of her lungs at all times, a necessity in a Broadway theater of the 1950s (no microphones used in those days), and if your kid spoke that way at home, you'd probably kill her before she had a chance to kill you! The main thing, though, is that if you accept this rather strange set-up, and especially if you can put yourself back into a 1956 pre-PSYCHO mentality, this is one of the great film experiences of its time. I saw it with friends as a teenager in 1956, and we were absolutely glued to the seats, with certain scenes (like the unseen but very much experienced burning death of Henry Jones) probably horrifying us as much as anything we had ever seen, and possibly more than anything we ever would see, including Norman Bates and Hannibal Lecter. Taken as an accurate re-creation of a very popular Broadway hit of the day, it is almost unique in presenting to us a real picture of what was to be seen on the stage at that time, where Nancy Kelly exercised big emotions in a big place (think of Eleanor Parker or, later, Faye Dunaway) and nobody thought it was at all over the top.

  • The mother is annoying

    • Habitat 67
    • 10/19/17

    This movie is sort of fun to watch but it's also damn strange. The actress who plays the mother of the ten year old "bad seed," is no prize herself. As an actress, she is so whiney, so loud, so exaggerated that she becomes hokey in her role as Christine, the mother of a ten year old serial killer. The plot has holes in it as well. How is it that a woman as old as Christine is not fully aware she is adopted? Just what is the purpose of Reggie's visit the same night Crazy Christine's father also shows up? If Christine's husband is doing military work in DC, why aren't she and Rhoda with him? According to the story line, she and her husband have not seen each other in months. Why? And who in his or her right mind could tolerate that pompous and absurd Monica, the ludicrous gas bag who lives upstairs and who thinks Rhoda walks on water? And if it's evident the boy who won the medal and was found dead at the school picnic had died under suspicious circumstances, where are the cops? And what's LeRoy's story? Does he live in the apartment house basement? The guy is afforded no respect from Christine or Monica, two women who have no right to look down on any other human being. The movie is entertaining, but it's junk food for the brain.

  • Disturbing...

    • Larry
    • 10/13/17

    Nancy Kelly as the mother of a psychopathic ten year old is so over the top and it's difficult to understand how she was nominated for any award at all for her role in this film. She played the same role on Broadway. She transfers the stage performance to the screen and some scenes just don't work because Kelly is too melodramatic and some lines are better written for stage than for screen. Her voice is better suited to stage. She tends to alternately whimper and screech with the effect of fingernails on a chalkboard. The murderous daughter, Rhoda, is a horrifying character. She is so totally manipulative, self-centered, calculating and cruel that she tops any monster Hollywood could possibly create. The other characters are good but stereotyped. The idiot Monica, the amateur psychologist living upstairs in the apartment house, is as annoying as a bad wind chime. She's a vain, over indulgent, blathering, know-it-all and makes one wish Rhoda had one more murder in her repertoire. The scene when Rhoda reappears humming that hateful tune she had been maniacally playing on the piano as Leroy burned to death and the others are in the hospital waiting room is totally distressing. Nobody in that room gets it. In two days two people are dead and Rhoda is the common thread in the mystery but nobody even senses it. The problem is exactly what "Daddy" says near the end of the film: "Everybody loves you." At the time this pigtailed demon is hearing that comment, she is already plotting Monica's death in order to acquire her love birds. This movie is entertaining but painfully melodramatic. Even when Christine (who is unable to correctly shoot herself) confesses she has committed a "dreadful sin," her husband remains blithely clueless. The best actor award really belongs to the lightening bolt at the end.

  • Excellent

    • Robin
    • 3/29/17

    Karma, Karma, Karma... describes the conclusion of this film. Overall: Outstanding cast and acting but I must comment on Eileen Heckert's performance. A damned good one if I do say so myself! Thank goodness she won the Oscar, Best Supporting Actress for that... She had a fairly hard life in reality and made, what you might call, a very successful, if not "Hollywood" popular life all the same. Love, love, love her in Butterflies Are Free as well. The Nature/Nurture debate still continues today. In my opinion, personalities are hard to affect, bend, change; no matter who your parents or caregivers were, or how you were raised in a "decent" and "loving" environment. On the other hand, those raised in "dysfunctional" environments very well may be affected adversely, but also might have the abilities to improve themselves...unlike inherent personality traits. Oh well; The debate goes on.....

  • The Bad Seed: Creepy

    • Doc Long
    • 6/22/16

    Film concerns a devilish 10 year old child played by Patty McCormack as a little girl who not only gets into trouble but commits murder when the situation calls for extreme action. Although too much for many viewers in 1956, McCormack was one of three cast members nominated for an Academy Award (Best Supporting Actress) along with Nancy Kelly as the Mother (Best Actress) and Eileen Heckart in an emotionally charged role earning her a nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Many familiar faces among the supporting cast including William Hopper- as the child's Father- along with Evelyn Varden and standbys Frank Cady, Jesse White, Henry Jones and Paul Fix. Veteran director Mervyn LeRoy keeps the action moving at a breakneck pace. Not for everyone but well made.

  • Exceptional Performance

    • Beverlyne Elijah
    • 6/12/15

    Patty McCormack's amazing performance was phenomenal! The results of an extraordinary acting coach! I have never witnessed a child actress who shows every emotion and non-emotional display. There are not many children than can and have done this! Can you think of just one? I am so happy that she is still acting and did not suffer theadolescent crash that most child stars experience. This is my all time favorite movie! It should have 10 stars!!!

  • The Bad Seed, 1956

    • D. Free
    • 5/31/15

    I watched this movie this afternoon for the second time, only saw the last 45 minutes last time and so wanted to see the whole story. All I can say is WOW ! The thought behind it is intriguing, and is I think true, born evil thru genetics. The movie dialogue may be a bit old fashioned, but is so good. I wanted to hear every word. And I did, never left the room, good thing because every part of this movie counts. LOVED the ending !


    • C Newsome
    • 11/8/14

    A fabulously intertaining film that thanks to TMC I've watched going on about ten times & relished every time. To me not so much of a horror film at least I never thought of it as such. Reality can be pretty horrible. But this is an early and somewhat successful attempt to visualize and highlight the intellectual argument/controversy between nature and nurture. As a recent commercial just brought out, in "horror" films people make stupid decisions. None more stupid than not disciplining Rhoda but continually rewarding her with ice cream, tea sets, necklaces, and playing outdoors. Obviously the mother herself is severely troubled from her earlier experiences and possibly genetically. But science has proven that genetic tendencies can be overcome by making good decisions, such as in diet and lifestyle. In Rhoda's case, discipline, restrictions, punishments... Back in the day,as the movie (even though the book or play did not end the way) it would be a proper tanning! This all star cast (why don't casting directors win awards?) is terrific. Claude Degal's mother did win for supporting I think. Very well deserved. Leroy pays the court jester by definition who always has a sixth sense and sees clearly what no one else can figure out. Love his part.

  • Psychopath in braids

    • Tom mulhern
    • 11/7/14

    A surprisingly clinical examination of a psychopathic child dealing with a series of the context of a feeble minded gardener and a clueless psychologist..still a disturbing presentation of extremes

  • The Bad Seed (1956)

    • Annie
    • 11/7/14

    The Bad Seed (1956)One of my Favorite vintage movies I remember watching this a kid and being mesmerized Oh what a bad girl Rhoda was. Can you imagine having a child as wicked as Rhoda? Luckily my daughter is a true Angel :D I love the cast of characters in this film they are Brilliant ! I can't tell you how often I have thought about this movie through out my life. Always wanting to see it over and over again. It took many years before I was lucky enough to finally see it as an adult. Wondering was it as good as I remembered and will it still be on my top ten list ? YES! YES! YES! it still is. I Love it and you will too. Gives you just the right amount of goosebumps, you wont want to miss a second of it so if you don't have it on DVD to hit the pause button don't leave the TV Screen or you may miss something important and worth watching. The Suspense may just kill you "-" Enjoy the Movie and watch through the Credits for an Extra added bonus that I just love what the actors do. Thank you TCM for adding this to your schedule without fail it wasn't for TCM I may have never have gotten to see this again and again.

  • My favorite movie EVER!

    • Holly Hayes
    • 5/13/14

    Okay, so it sounds pretty sick that my favorite movie would be about the perfect little girl with blonde pigtails, dresses and patent leather shoes as a cold blooded killer. It's just not right, I'm a Hospice worker! The actors in this film blow me away with spot on performances. There is intrigue, guilt, murder and motherhood smack in the middle of this crazy plot. The scenes are simple, the clothing and sets are so stylistic. Every character is so complete it's amazing how much they tell about themselves in such a short period of time. I love each one of them. I have seen this film probably 20 times and I never fail to become completely absorbed from the very first scene. News headlines tell stories like this all the time, but this feels so different. Sure, it's a movie, but really. Doesn't she just scare you to death? She so casually kills without any remorse. She's so clever and so TWISTED! I almost feel guilty being entertained by this horror. But, the actors make this simple movie so delicious. If you haven't seen it, YOU HAVE TO! I love old movies and Turner Classic channel and it is hard to pick just one, but if I had to, I would pick this one. That's why I took the time today to write my first film review. This is a must see film and after you do you'll understand why it's so great.

  • The Bad Seed is Good!

    • Christine in GA
    • 4/12/14

    I think the scene where Leroy is screaming is the scariest thing in this movie. Those screams are gut-wrenching! The director did a good job of "opening up" the story. Nancy Kelly's histrionics might be a bit over the top, acting-wise, otherwise all the performances are spot-on and I watch it every time I come across it on TCM.

  • The Bad Seed: Psychopath in Training

    • Delia
    • 1/29/14

    How badly does this kid want the little medal won by another student? Bad enough to kill him, of course. Turns out that's just one episode from the killer kid's bag of tricks. The building handyman finds out too late that the little blonde with pigtails is not to be toyed with, especially when it comes to snitching on her. Interesting parallel story about whether insanity/madness is hereditary or learned. One thing's for sure: Lightning does strike at the oddest times in the oddest places during a rainstorm. Or as they say, karma is a...well, you know. Spooky good.

  • Must see movie

    • Tina
    • 11/27/13

    The Bad Seed is tied with "Gaslight" for top spot on list of my fave movies. Now, this is horror movie, to see the personification of evil in the innocent face of a child is beyond scary. The performances were spot on. The juxtaposition of Rhoda's artificial sweetness with her total lack of empathy and conscience made for a complex characterization of 'evil personified'. You feel the poor mother's pain as she comes to the horrific realization of her child's true nature

  • One creepy film, with a cute kid as the monster.

    • denscul
    • 10/27/13

    Saw this as a teen on the big screen. It must not have made a big impression, no men from Mars, no gore, and a girl as the evil one. But when I saw it on late night TV, as an adult, it freaked me out. I had two teen age sons, and began to think one of them came from the planet where every kid is a juvenile delinquent. That's what we called kids who broke the laws of society back then. But, unlike Patty McCormick, like most teens, mine straighten out and flew right. The film by todays standards, is tame, but for parents, it can be a little more scary.

  • One of those movies

    • SallysF
    • 7/8/13

    This is one of those movies you can watch again and again. It's one of those movies people use as a reference - even Robin Williams will throw it into a conversation! Campy, stage-play style, yet still a believable story. Must see.

  • Creepy Then, Creepy Now

    • Gretchen
    • 7/6/13

    My mom was the one who told me about this movie way back in the 60s. She thought it was really creepy because little girls just didn't act like that. I was about 7 at that time. I've watched it ever since then and it still is one of my all time best re-runs of old movies.

  • Passable

    • sue
    • 6/23/12

    OK movie...but not as good as I remember I watched it as a kid. Nowadays, this wouldn't be a movie...rather it would be a news story!

  • Creepy!

    • RedRain
    • 6/23/12

    When I was young, the Legion of Decency ruled this as an X-rated film because of the content. Thus, I did not see it until I was an adult. This is one of the creepiest and scariest films out there! Originally, it was billed as a "horror" film and that pretty well sums it up. You are at the edge of your seat throughout the film when you see it for the first time. It is superbly acted and Patty McCormack simply makes your skin crawl in her role as Rhoda. The novel had the mother dying and the evil child living but the Hays Code prevented this from being the ending, as it was a case of "crime does pay" otherwise. Consequently, we have an ending here that is fully what we want it to be! I don't believe children should see this film. It is disturbing on many levels and children are too impressionable to understand the sickness that McCormack's character has.


    • 10/28/11


  • What about LeRoy?

    • lcs
    • 10/26/11

    Speaking of evil, didn't anyone at the time think it a little strange that the family kept this retarded man down in the cellar sleeping on a straw mat next to the furnace?


    • julie
    • 10/26/11

    This is an outstanding movie. I can say that this is one of the best movies ever made in the 50's. I saw this movie as a child and have never forgotten it. Every so often I'll scroll down the TMC channel schedule and hope that this movie would show on tv. I'm excited to get home from work tonight and watch this movie today. Thank you TMC!

  • The Bad Seed- A Tale of Terror and Motherly Love

    • Judith Gribble
    • 7/29/11

    I have watched this movie many times over the years, but I do not believe that I saw the entire film until I just recently purchased the DVD. The acting in this movie is absolutely fantastic. Every performance without exception is superb. I was so taken with the performance of Nancy Kelly and am very sorry that she did not win the best acting Oscar for the film, but she had won the Tony for the stage performance. Patty McCormack's performance was outstanding. As she and I are about the same age, I have followed her career over the years. I was so impressed by what she put on screen at such a young age. Eileen Heckart's performance was very touching. This movie is now 55 years old, but I am very fascinated with it. I am a child of the 50's and possibly somewhat biased, but I feel that some of the best movies came out of that era. The Bad Seed is indeed one of the best examples of movies of that time.

    • 6/17/11

  • Excellent 50s time capsule

    • Jack T.
    • 6/17/11

    Although this film has been a crowd favorite throughout the years, many criticisms have been hurled at it for its theatricality and over the top performances esp. from Ms. Kelly. However, these are the very things that I find so mesmerizing about this movie. Stylistically, it is a very realistic representation of the period in which it was made: the 1950s. Everything was more formal: manners, mannerisms, conversations, daily dress (women in skirts and gloves and men with ties and fedoras) and this picture captures the era perfectly. It was a much simpler time when everything was black and white (just as this film have made it in color would have been wrong). Therefore the plot follows a somewhat simplistic logic but it is its unusual execution that drives this story forward. As for the performances, I revel in the scenery chewing excess not as camp but as a device that suits the style of the movie perfectly. This is a movie that might not sit well with today's movie going public but if you want to see a film that moves along briskly albeit with a lot of dialogue and is something of a time capsule of the 50s, then I highly recommed THE BAD SEED to you. And by the way, the ending has been criticized because it had to be altered to suit the censorship code back then I truly love the altered ending. It always seemed to me like a stroke of writing genius!

  • performance

    • jackie
    • 4/30/11

    I love the whole cast of acting skills. the grieving mother was excellent u don't see many acting as a mother would really be, with the lost of their child. I listen to words the movements the whole under tone of expressions in face and voice. I like the acting and the story line.

  • terrific acting

    • bkny
    • 2/21/11

    the performances by all in this cast are terrific; but eileen heckert's brings tears to my eyes every time. patty mccormack is scary good; and nancy kelly is heartbreaking to watch coming to terms that her daughter is a murderer. i try to catch it every time tcm plays it.

  • Great Film!

    • moviebuff8
    • 4/25/10

    Top notch, fabulous performances from Nancy Kelly and Patty McCormack which totally avoid caricature. Supporting players, especially Evelyn Varden as Monica Breedlove, Eileen Heckart as Hortense Daigle and Henry Jones as LeRoy are superlative. A riveting, chilling, film, even with the Hollywood happy ending added on. I saw it as a youngster and never forgot it.

  • Ahead of its time! A top suspense thriller!

    • Mavin Edwards
    • 10/30/09

    This film has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid, a has to be my favorite in the genre. It was intelligently written and the approach to the subject matter of psychotic behavior I found to be quite absorbing. None other could have played Rhoda but Patty McCormack. She delivered like an old pro. There's a lot going on than just knowledge of a murder. Patty's interchanges with Henry Jones (Leroy) bring a stellar level of breadth to the story, highlighting how Rhoda's manner alternates in certain circles which is the crux of the disorder. The musical, physical and verbal displays of Rhoda's nervous "ticks" and bouts with self-control as part of this mental disorder are carried out with genius, as is her mother's own metamorphosis in her self-discovery, brilliantly played by Nancy Kelly. And, of course, the role of Hortense was tailor-made for Eileen Heckart. A superb project that rivals many psycho-thrillers made today.

  • That little girl was sort of scary.

    • Tobin
    • 6/20/09

    Top to bottom this movie is great; supporting cast, the music, direction. Think about it, 1950's was when this came out. This is perhaps my favorite movie.

  • It's morbidly fun to watch

    • Michael Sullivan
    • 6/20/09

    I love this movie! Patricia McCormick ranks within the top 5 of 'evil' females in moviedom! The melodrama admittedly is 'over the top' but necessary! We think of the 'innocence' of children. That's not the case here. Manipulator she is; and the 'dumb' characters are the adults! Finally the credits at the end of the movie are worth watching too!

  • The Bad Seed (1956)

    • Jay
    • 6/14/09

    The cast does an incredible job, even down to the smallest roles. Superb story, rather shocking. Very well written and directed. Very engrossing throughout, a remarkable film.

  • Horrified at 6

    • Karen
    • 2/26/09

    I was allowed to watch this movie (at a friend's house) for the first time when I was 6 - it disturbed me beyond what I could measure at the time. In fact, it became the definition of terror for me. Seeing it as an adult, I can certainly appreciate the excellent acting and the well-written story line. However, back then, as now - it is an horrific thought that a child could be a murderer. In 1956, it seemed beyond far-fetched. Unfortunately, in 2009, the concept of a young child killing is not unbelievable. I would not let a child under the age of 13 see this movie.

  • The Bad Seed

    • Pammer
    • 2/1/08

    Outstanding movie, one that stirs the soul to think about the human mind, how delicate it is... how conducive our thought process can be to emote different things, such as denial, anger, lies..and many many others.. Great movie

  • bad seed

    • stella smith
    • 12/21/07

    I think each cast member should have gotten an Oscar, they all had powerful parts, the mother, when she found out the secrets of who her mother really was, is the most touching scene, I cry everytime that scenes is shown, please play that again Sam.....

  • Suspensful thriller!

    • Nicole
    • 8/13/07

    This movie will always keep you on your toes! At the time it was released (1956), the thought of a child murderess was unheard of, and shocked its audiences! Today, we see it as a classic that's been around throughout the decades. Patty McCormack did such a fabulous job as Rhoda, it's easy to typecast her. Eileen Heckart should have gotten an Oscar for her performance as Mrs. Daigel. She did an outstanding job. I highly reccommend this'll never forget it.

  • A very poignant Production!

    • FrankieCee
    • 12/19/06

    I don't know if she did, but Eileen Heckart (Mrs. Daigle) should have won an Academy Award for her brief yet poignant performance. Her acting is flawless and impeccable and she portrays the drunk and overly distraught, now childless Mother, to the summit. Although she has only two scenes, to me, her performance "steals the show". This film is a very disturbing portrayal of the foibles and emotional turbulence inherent in "unchecked" mental illness. This film will keep you "riveted" to your seat.

  • The Bad Seed

    • Wendy Winkler
    • 12/19/06

    Nancy Kelly gives a heartwrenching performance in this movie. This could be just another horror movie. But Ms. Kelly's performance makes it much more. The way she uses her voice and the gestures that she makes while her world is falling apart is powerful.

  • One of my top 10 favorites!

    • jodi
    • 9/25/06

    This movie gives you the chills without being visually graphic. The sounds and suggestions are whatever your imagination conjures up. The first time I saw it I couldn't wait to see it again.I enjoy recommending it to people. They are always surprised as it is hard to describe the feeling of the movie.


    • Priscilla
    • 9/12/06

    Is evil genetic or environmental? This movie explores those theories through the character of a little girl named Rhoda. It is well written and the acting is superb. You will be captivated from the very beginning. I have recommended this movie to all of my friends. YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!! And the ending?? I won't tell.

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