Bad Seed, The (1956)

The Bad Seed (1956), directed by Mervyn LeRoy.

Eight-year-old Rhoda is perfectly sweet and smarmy to adults, but also has some type of genetic insanity which makes her a murderer. She's not positively evil, just totally amoral about getting what she wants, "as if she had been born blind."

Like many films adapted from stage plays it is talky and the characters declaim in playwright-speak. A lot of it is like a filmed play. Two hours nine minutes is way too long for this.

A good feature is the subplot with crazed handyman Henry Jones. He's on to Rhoda's game and they are at war, but she's too much for him.

It picks up towards the end and delivers some shocking developments:


Mom, discovering that Rhoda has killed three people, poisons her with sleeping pills and then shoots herself. Both survive.

Rhoda goes down to a boat dock to retrieve a stolen medal and is blown up by a lightning bolt.

The End.

Except... we have credits with a curtain call by all the players. Mom then takes Rhoda to the sofa and gives her a comical spanking.

To which I can only say: "Good grief".

Available on Blu-ray, but not from Netflix. I rented mine from ClassicFlix. The commentary track is a happy conversation with the adult Patty McCormack (Rhoda).