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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sowing the seeds of evil.
The Bad Seed is directed by Mervyn LeRoy and adapted to screenplay by Maxwell Anderson from the novel of the same name written by William March. Anderson had also adapted for the stage play as well. It stars Nancy Kelly, William Hopper, Patty McCormack, Henry Jones, Eileen Heckart and Evelyn Varden. Music is by Alex North and cinematography by Harold Rossen.

Is...
Published 12 months ago by Spike Owen

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 5 star film, but 2 star Blu Ray
For some strange reason Warners have decided to release this Blu Ray as a cropped 16:9 edition while their earlier 4:3 DVD retains the "original theatrical" ratio. Subsequently the image on the Blu Ray release is missing information from the top and bottom of the screen and the picture is rather soft and lacking in definition.

This is all rather frustrating as...
Published 20 months ago by cocteautwin


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sowing the seeds of evil., 16 Nov 2013
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Bad Seed [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
The Bad Seed is directed by Mervyn LeRoy and adapted to screenplay by Maxwell Anderson from the novel of the same name written by William March. Anderson had also adapted for the stage play as well. It stars Nancy Kelly, William Hopper, Patty McCormack, Henry Jones, Eileen Heckart and Evelyn Varden. Music is by Alex North and cinematography by Harold Rossen.

Is there such a thing as Bad Seed? Where I grew up there was a violent family of four brothers, each one would think nothing of doing a Begbie on you. It was the first time I heard the saying Bad Seed, with the conversation basically saying that their father was a psychopath and the four lads just inherited the violent tendencies by way of Pops. It's this theory that drives LeRoy's movie, only here it's a young "butter-wouldn't-melt-in-her-mouth" girl who has murderous leanings courtesy of her Nana's iffy genetics.

The theatre origins are very much evident, there is no hiding this fact, with the acting (some of the actors are held over from the play here) very much as if playing to an open auditorium, while at over two hours in length there's an over stretching of the talk heavy material. However, this is a very engrossing piece of horror cinema, pulsing unpleasantness and mood oppressive by way of black and white photography and a musical score that underlines the blending of sweet innocence and sinister evil.

McCormack as the Devil Child is outstanding, likewise Jones as the simpleton handyman who recognises evil when he sees it. Kelly, Heckart, McCormack and Rossen were all Academy Award nominated for their respective work in the film. As for the much discussed finale? Personally I have no problem with what transpires as regards mother and child. Oh for sure the ending to both the novel and play is far darker and dramatic, but there's a campy bizarreness in this Production Code influenced denouement that befits the whole production. Though the end credits curtain calls by the cast members is pushing it too far... 7.5/10
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great and effective 1950's thriller., 22 Mar 2013
This review is from: Bad Seed [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
The Bad Seed is a great black and white thriller cult classic from the 50's, with great performances especially by Patty McCormak as the wicked and evil child Rhoda, also Nancy Kelly and Patty McCormack reprised their stage roles in this film. A single mother discovers that within her seemingly angelic daughter beats the heart of a cold-blooded serial murderer. One woman must make a terrible decision about the daughter she loves and desperately wants to protect in this classic thriller. Patty McCormack plays Rhoda Penmark, a seemingly sweet, beautiful, smart grade school girl who is in attendance at a school picnic in which a classmate dies. No one suspects that the accident was the result of murder except for Rhoda's apartment building janitor, a simpleton named LeRoy (Henry Jones). But when Rhoda's mother, Christine Penmark (Nancy Kelly), finds out that her real mother is a cold-blooded killer, she begins to suspect her own daughter. Her fears of what Rhoda might do conflict with her protective instincts as a mother, forcing Christina to make terrible decisions--decisions that themselves might be too late. This film comes highly recommended as it started the whole killer kids genre, it was definitely one of my favorites. Some might see the acting as being over the top but then again that's how most actors were like in the 50's before actors like Marlon Brando changed everything.

DVD Extras :- Audio Commentary by Patty McCormack and Charles Busch, basically questions Patty as the film plays and she does a bang up job informing us on all that went on with not only the movie, but also the play on which it was based (in which she and many of the cast appeared). It's really odd to hear Patty speaking as a woman in her late fifties after just having seen her as a psychopathic pigtailed 8-year old, but you'll definitely find out all you want to know about the film and its stars, many of whom have long since passed away.

New Making-Of Documentary - Enfant Terrible: A Conversation with Patty McCormack: A 15-minute long conversation in which Patty expands on her experience doing the play and film versions of THE BAD SEED as well as the working relationships she had with her co-stars. It's interesting to see what the horrible little girl in the film looks like today and McCormack's fond recollections make this a feature definitely worth looking into. There's also a theatrical trailer.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than the blu ray!, 20 April 2013
By 
Adrian Drew (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Bad Seed [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Ironically this DVD is better visual quality than the new Warner's blu ray release and displays much better contrast ratios and definition. Undoubtedly a shocker on its original release in 1956 and despite having been changed for censorship reasons from Maxwell Anderson's highly successful stage play source - the film, directed by Mervyn Leroy, still packs a ferocious punch in its portrayal of a murderous infant and is brilliantly played by many of the actors from the actual Broadway cast. Although the changed ending does not have the chilling horror of Anderson's stage version it still has a pleasant feeling of just retribution although the ultimate moment when all the cast reappear to take their "bow" seems a misjudgement clearly required to demonstrate to audiences that they have only been watching a movie. Oh, such innocent times!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 5 star film, but 2 star Blu Ray, 24 Mar 2013
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For some strange reason Warners have decided to release this Blu Ray as a cropped 16:9 edition while their earlier 4:3 DVD retains the "original theatrical" ratio. Subsequently the image on the Blu Ray release is missing information from the top and bottom of the screen and the picture is rather soft and lacking in definition.

This is all rather frustrating as I anticipated that by upgrading to the Blu Ray release I would be gaining and not losing something. I do love the actual film but Warners have missed the opportunity to make this Blu Ray a 5 star release. My advice would be to stick with the DVD!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great entertainment even today, 9 Jan 2007
By 
A. Griffiths "Adrian" (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bad Seed [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
"The Bad Seed" holds a unique place in cinema history for daring (in 1956) to show a small child as being a wilful and calculating evil killer. I can only imagine the impact it must have had on it's release in the 1950's when portraying such cold-blooded behaviour in children would be unprecedented. But as a viewer today, I can only review it based on my own impressions, and whether it lives up to it's reputation and still works today.

The story is not complicated, it revolves simply around an eight year old girl named Rhoda and her family. Rhoda appears to be the perfect daughter, all plaits and smiles and frilly dresses, but unbeknown to her mother she is a skilled troublemaker, and has no compunction or guilt in "removing" obstacles that stand in the way of her getting what she wants. Most notably, the action centres on a school handwriting competition that sees Rhoda denied first place. The prize goes to another classmate who is subsequently found drowned...is it possible that rivalry among a class of kids this young could lead to murder? And how could it possibly be the ultra-cute Rhoda with her cute manners and sunny demeanor? It's left up to Rhoda's mother, Christine, to face up to the terrible truth behind her daughter's perfect facade.

What works the best is undoubtedly Patty McCormack's performance as Rhoda. Without her portrayal the film would not be half of what is is here. Totally relaxed and confident, McCormack brings the character beautifully to life. Her delivery, ranging from petulant, suger-sweet, angry or cruel is spot on every time, and her facial expressions rival many adult actors in terms of ambiguity. It's easy to believe Rhoda has most adults in the palm of her hand with her disarming good manners and sweet behaviour, but it's equally easy to imagine the evil underneath when she is seen purposely covering up damning evidence or taunting the few brave souls that dare speak out against her. As long as Rhoda is on screen, the film is a joy to watch. But conversely, when she's not....oh dear. The film creaks to a slow crawl as the adult characters mill about with lots of hand-wringing and soul searching as they try and make sense of the bizarre goings on. The worst offender is Nancy Kelly in the pivotal role of Christine, Rhoda's anxious mother. Both Kelly and McCormack played the same characters in the original stage production, but unfortunately, unlike the serene McCormack, Kelly acts like she's still on stage, gesticulating with tremendously exaggerated movements and hammy histrionics at every one of Rhoda's misdemeanours which look far too over-the-top on celluloid. This weeping and wailing hampers the dramatic tension greatly, and a little firmer direction of her performance could have darkened the overall tone to even better effect.

Veracity is not further helped by some sadly very dated psycho-babble about the possible cause behind Rhoda's homicidal tendancies. Nancy Kelly's confession, when she reveals why she suspects Rhoda to be a "bad seed" is amusingly implausible, and presumably based on some kind of mid-1950's quack psychology, because it really sounds daft today. However, I will say though, that Nancy's final scene as Christine still has some potency, as she takes final measures to stop all the madness in the only way she can see how. Thanks to the tiresome Hays Code of the day, though, the film is famous for having a tacked on ending that follows Rhoda to her come-uppance (one which the stage version never meted out), and although many audiences have howled at the obvious "divine retribution" tone of it, if you watch it, it's actually not that bad as a plot continuation, although the actual depiction of it is rather ridiculous. What really fails, though, is the wildly inappropriate final curtain call which shows Christine enthusiastically spanking Rhoda as both giggle profusely. This 30 second shot, with no reason or relevance to ANYTHING that has gone before in the film, is the worst mistake of the whole affair, and should have been erased from as many releases as possible - it would have been a perfect DVD extra, no way should it still appear as the final shot of the movie.

Having said that, the whole film itself is a lot of fun. I woudl recommend it for an afternoon's entertainment, as long as you watch it with hindsight about restrictions that go with it's time, you can appreciate the plot pretty well. It does suffer from some stagy acting, and some stagy setpieces as well, with over-reliance on a few conversation-heavy sequences that take place in just one room. But Rhoda, the blond-plaited, frilly skirted, murderous poppet who has since become almost iconic in cinema visual language, saves the day. Well done to Patty MacCormack and director Mervyn LeRoy for creating this legacy.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "How long do love birds live?", 4 Nov 2008
By 
Kona (Emerald City) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Bad Seed [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Christine Penmark has a loving husband and a picture-perfect daughter named Rhoda. Christine knows that Rhoda can be stubborn and greedy and a bit of a kiss-up, but that's not all that worries her after a classmate dies at a school picnic...the boy had just won a medal that Rhoda wanted. A lot.

This movie was considered quite shocking when it was made in 1956; it was unheard of to suggest that a child could be a cold-blooded killer who inherited her evil from her mother. The cast came direct from the Broadway show and were comfortable in their roles. Nancy Kelly goes from contented housewife to hysterical lunatic and is believable all the way. Patty McCormack is perfect as the angelic little devil in crinolines and braids. She's tough gutsy and holds her own with the talented adults. Henry Jones, as the handy man, is really creepy and terrific.

While the actors are all great, the director chose to make a filmed play and it doesn't always work. The dialogue is all shouted and the actors politely take turns speaking, there's no overlap or hesitation; everything sounds too rehearsed. The action is mostly confined to a living room set where the actors do a LOT of talking with little action; they stand still and stare at whoever is speaking; this probably worked a lot better on stage.

The Extras include film commentary and a memories short with Patty McCormack and these are great fun. Despite it's staginess, the movie is exciting and intense and very enjoyable.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Half chilling psychological horror, Half dull melodrama, 17 May 2012
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This review is from: Bad Seed [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
The Bad Seed is original because it was the first horror to explore an evil child and relies more on psychological horror. The idea that someone seeming innocent is in fact evil is very original and more terrifying than any horrific looking monster. The evil behind the cutness is perfectly conveyed by Patty McCormack in one scene she says sweetly, "I'll give you a basket full of hugs, for a basket full of kisses" sends a chill down the spine. There is also some terrific scenes featuring the house keeper. The first half is chilling and gripping yet unfortunately and unexpectedly the film spends little screen time on the girl and more on the shocked mother who spends most of the film acting over-melodramatic and shocked and the film spends a lot of time about discussions regarding evil pasted on to the next generation, in other words it's all talk and no action. The films is also considerably weakened by the idiotic tacked on happy ending which was forced on by the censors as opposed to the original horrific ending of the play. The evil child theme is much better conveyed in the brilliant and shocking "The Omen (1976)"
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very...Very...Very Bad Little Girl, 15 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Bad Seed [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
This is a story of a very, very, very bad little girl. At the time this was made, the American film industry was not allowed to show evil triumphing over good, how the director overcame this is a wiz.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Film, 11 Dec 2013
By 
Patrick (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bad Seed [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
This old classic is well worth a look, as I love old movies I would have no problem ordering more classics from Amazon
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5.0 out of 5 stars ORIGINAL SIN, 4 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Bad Seed [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
sheer class
I dont know why modern film makers do it their way when there is genuine Art like this to learn from. And all the younger viewers I shared it with agree.
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Bad Seed [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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