The Bad Seed

Preteen television and Broadway vet Patty McCormack garnered Oscar and Golden Globe nods for her portrayal of pint-sized psychopath Rhoda Penmark in Mervyn LeRoy’s 1956 flick The Bad Seed. With her father off serving his country in a tight uniform and her melodramatic mother questioning her foundling lineage, towheaded Rhoda passes the time by working on puzzles, promising suggestively to exchange “baskets of kisses for baskets of hugs,” beating classmate Ralph Daigle almost to death with her tap shoes, and then drowning him when he fails to fork over a penmanship award that was clearly meant for her. What Rhoda wants, Rhoda gets! The Daigle drowning is actually Rhoda’s second kill, and before the movie ends, she disposes of her building’s meddling handyman. Think Schneider from One Day at a Time, sans pencil mustache and even perveier. Mother Penmark finally puts two and seven together, and realizes that not only was she adopted, she is also the daughter of some long-dead lady serial killer which, in turn, makes Rhoda the grandchild of the of the same long-dead lady serial killer. Crazy apples don’t fall far from the crazy killer tree, and Mother Penmark does what any mother in a similar situation would do after realizing she birthed a monster; she feeds Rhoda an overdose of sleeping pills, and shoots herself in the face. Sadly, murder/suicides are always foiled in movies, and the corpulent landlady who lives upstairs rescues Rhoda. Daddy comes back from war, or whatever gay bar he was frequenting in that tight uniform, and Rhoda sets out in a lightening storm across the Warner Brother’s back lot to reclaim that penmanship medal she beat and killed that stupid Daigle kid for. Quite frankly, she earned it in my book; however Mother Nature intervenes and delivers the swift justice Rhoda’s mother couldn’t muster.


  • Eileen Heckart’s slurred scenes as grieving mother Hortense Daigle
  • The two-tiered Penmark family bar cart. If Unkle Lancifer & I ever get married, I am sticking seven of those things on my registry. I want one for every room, even the bathroom
  • Rhoda’s “G-I-V-E-M-E-M-Y-S-H-O-E-S” confrontation under the arbor with handyman/perv Leroy Jessup
  • “They don’t put little girls in the electric chair!”
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15 years ago

the best part is the ending where all the characters come out and take a bow.They even had the same kinda ending in “Parents”

13 years ago

I really really cannot believe this movie is still mentioned, but it’s TOTALLY CREEPY and stayed with me for a long time after watching.  That little blonde is….EEK!  She’s just a sick little psycho and the poor mother….a great movie with tons of creepy moments!