Oscar History

The Film Experience™ was created by亚博主页Nathaniel R.Gemini,Cinephile,Actressexual.All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member ofour teamas noted.

Powered by Squarespace
Don't Miss This!
Comment Fun

Oscar doubles- trivia on all the two-timers

"Winslet could easily wins a second one in the right project/role.Think about how close she comes for Steve Jobs. The other one is Viola Davis in Lead.I think everyone in Hollywood would vote if she is nomed again."-Patrick

"Still mystified why Jodie and Jessica won two and then … television (Jessica) or nothing much else (Jodie)." -Faye

Keep TFE Strong

We're looking for500...no461 Patron Saints!If you read us daily,please be one.Your suscription dimes make an enormous difference.Consider...

I ♥ The Film Experience亚博主页



Directors ofFor Sama

Lulu Wang(The Farewell)
Ritesh Batra(Photograph)
Schmidt & Abrantes(Diamantino)
Wanuri Kahiu(Rafiki)
Jia Zhang-ke(Ash is Purest White)

What'cha Looking For?
« Instagram Battles: Which Celebrity Gave Best Costume?| Main| Beauty vs Beast: The Princesses of Borovnia »
Oct 31 2016

Oscar Horrors: Patty McCormack is "The Bad Seed"

Boo!It's the "Oscar Horrors"finale withabstew

With her blonde pigtails,pinafore dress,spotless Mary Janes,and armed with an elegant curtsy,little 8-year-old Rhoda Penmark is hardly the most intimidating figure.But beneath that childish visage lies the heart of a cold-blooded killer!One that shocked audiences in the 1950s.The Bad Seedpreyed on the idea that evil wasn't some devil or mythical monster,but that it lived next door in the most unassuming of places.And worst of all,that evil was a hereditary trait that could be passed on,with no control over your assigned nature.The evil child has now become a staple of the horror genre,from the towheaded Children of the Corn to the twins fromThe Shining,but one of the first to make her mark (literally - watch out for those deadly shoes!) was bad seed,Rhoda Penmark,brought to life by Best Supporting Actress nominee,Patty McCormack.

I was about Rhoda's age when I first sawThe Bad Seedat my friend Vicky's house...

Vicky's parents didn't monitor what she watched as much as my parents did,so I seemed to have gotten my education on 'edgier"films at Vicky's.I was also introduced toRocky Horror Picture ShowandHeatherson visits to her home. I remember being fascinated by Rhoda and her heartless killing.And being drawn to the campy acting (especially from Nancy Kelly as her concerned mother).But I'm not the only one that little Rhoda seems to have made an impression on.The title "Bad Seed"has entered the cultural lexicon to describe a troubled child.And director John Waters name checks Rhoda Penmark in his bookRole Modelsas one of the people he wanted to be growing up.He is even friends in real-life now with the adult Patty McCormack.

Watching the film now probably loses some of its bite,especially where gratuitous violence is found on basic cable.Warner Bros.was so worried that the film might be too much for audiences to handle that they advertised the film as "Adults Only".And the Motion Picture Production Code was worried about portraying a killer that gets away with murder (as Rhoda does in the play),so added not only an ending with her demise by thunderbolt,but a theatrical curtain call in which Kelly spanks McCormack,as if to say,don't worry everyone,it was all just pretend!

But even playing pretend,McCormack's portrayl of Rhoda is a calculated work of a consumate professional.She knows just when to give the perfect look that sends shivers down your spin.And she's especially great in her confession scene,when she reveals jusy how unfeeling she was in the murder of a fellow student that won a penmanship award over her.When the boy won't give her the medal she takes it by force.And her cool demeanor breaks into a fit of hysterics as she describes beating him to death with her shoes.It's a rare moment where Rhoda shows emotion,breaking down like the child she is and reminding us that despite being a killer at heart,she really is still a little girl.

One of the youngest acting nominees of all time (5th youngest in Supporting Actress),McCormack was 11 when she brought Rhoda to the big screen,but had already been acting for most of her young life.The Bad Seedhad been with her for years as she previously had originated the role on Broadway in the original 1954 production.Despite protests from Warner Bros.who wanted big name stars for the film adaption,director Mervyn LeRoy was successfully able to bring most of the cast when it transferred to film,including Nancy Kelly (the role had previously won her a Tony) and Eileen Heckart as the alcoholic mother of one of Rhoda's victims.Both actresses also received Oscar nominations along with McCormack.Although McCormack and Heckart lost in their category to Dorothy Malone inWritten on the Wind.Something I'm sure Rhoda Penmark would not be happy about...

Season 3 Oscar Horrors is a Wrap
The Bad Seed- Supporting Actress
Bram Stoker's Dracula- Makeup
Dr Jekyll & Mr Mouse-Animated Short
Flatliners- Sound Editing
Fatal Attraction- Film Editing
Kwaidan- Foreign Film
Misery- Actress
Pan's Labyrinth- Production Design
The Sixth Sense- Picture
Sleepy Hollow- Production Design
Sweeney Todd- Best Actor
The Uninvited- Cinematography
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?- Cinematography

Season 2
Season 1

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (12)

Oh,if only Joan Crawford had played the mother;)

October 31,2016 | Unregistered Commenterrick gould

I've lobbied many a school I work for to do The Bad Seed play and the answer is always the same: it's too damn dark with the original ending.I tell them that's the point.My revenge is always slipping advanced students cuttings of the play for scene studies and audition monologues and watching their directors and teachers slowly realize who is starting the push for The Bad Seed in their classroom.

The film is good for what it is (stupid code),but the acting is phenomenal.I can almost forgive that one two punch of ending/post credits scene for the quality of acting.Almost.The real ending is better.

Shame they so rarely let the original actors who have lived in the role for years transfer the performance to the big screen as an ensemble anymore.It always makes a big difference,especially with odd work like this.Imagine Polanski's Carnage with the original cast of God of Carnage or Doubt with the Broadway cast intact.

October 31,2016 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Patty McCormack gives one of the best Child actor performances ever..Chilling!
She recently played Pat Nixon in Frost/Nixon

October 31,2016 | Unregistered CommenterDO

Any discussion of evil children on the screen should include twins Chris and Martin Udvarnoky in "The Other"and Macaulay Culkin (starring with Elijah Wood) in "The Good Sun".BTW,Eileen Heckart was memorable in "The Bad Seed".

October 31,2016 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

The movie is somewhat clunky today but still effective.Nancy Kelly is so over the top giving what I assume was the same performance as she did on stage.Odd since she had a feature career in the 30's and should have understood how to bring it down for the cameras.Both Bette Davis and Rosalind Russell were seriously considered for the role before the decision was made to use the stage cast.Both would have been fascinating to see but so different in execution.

Patty McCormick is deeply chilling as Rhoda but one of those child performers that just couldn't make the leap to adult stardom though she's had a long respectable career.The problem is she changed so much as she matured her specialness faded away,with the few who make that jump,for example Natalie Wood or Elizabeth Taylor,a vestige of the child performer remains in adulthood.With McCormick,as it was with Margaret O'Brien,there's no connection between the younger and older selves.Still it an incredibly memorable performance.

October 31,2016 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

She's so astounding in that movie,and in the trickiest role of the cast.Especially with Kelly raving in one corner and Heckart mugging with the gardener in the other (though I love all of them,and Varden).It's the most cray cray part in the whole set,yet it feels the least histrionic,and heroically so.I always kind of lump her with Haley Joel Osment in the "child actors in horror who own roles their movies would die without but didn't win shit for it."(I'd count Blair if she hadn't won the Globe).I mean,I'm probably in the Dorothy Malone camp anyways but still.Patty's got chops,and she uses them pretty damn well.

November 1,2016 | Unregistered CommenterNick T

I agree with all the praise of McCormack.She's simply stunning.But Kelly is downright embarrassing.There's not a shred of credible acting by her.LeRoy was a seasoned director.Why didn't he stop this.Sigh.

November 1,2016 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

RobertG - I get that studios want "stars"to sell a film,but it is so much better when the stage actors get to recreate their roles to live forever on film.But the God of Carnage cast is especially confusing because all the actors form the Broadway production were already "names".Marcia Gay Harden,James Gandolfini,Hope Davis,and Jeff Daniels aren't recognizable enough?!

I might be in the minority,but I kinda love how stagey and over-the-top Nancy Kelly is in this - especially that insane moment when she starts beating her uterus...It's a camp classic for a reason!

November 1,2016 | Unregistered Commenterabstew

Every time I watch "The Bad Seed"I never cease to be amazed at the incredible talent of Patty McCormack.Her performance was absolutely stunning.She should have won every award available that season,and should have been flooded with scripts after this movie.Why she never achieved the level of fame that other child stars went on to I will never know.My guess is she was TOO amazing for the marginal talents flooding Hollywood,and probably didn't indulge in the casting couch so she wasn't as well recognized as lesser talents.

July 2,2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarilyn Reynolds

Each time I see this film-which I loved as a child the 1st time I watched it and still do today-I am struck by the realism lent to it by 2actors who never seem to get the credit due them,today: Paul Fix(always a great actor) who played the Dad to Nancy Kelly's character and the actress(sorry,for not coming up with her name) who played,'Aunt' Monica whom I absolutely,loved in this film!

July 31,2017 | Unregistered CommenterLina T.

Each time I see this film-which I loved as a child the 1st time I watched it and still do today-I am struck by the realism lent to it by 2actors who never seem to get the credit due them,today: Paul Fix(always a great actor) who played the Dad to Nancy Kelly's character and the actress(sorry,for not coming up with her name) who played,'Aunt' Monica whom I absolutely,loved in this film!

July 31,2017 | Unregistered CommenterLina T.

I love this film as the psychological question that is raised about what makes a criminal mind?DNA or a loving,stable environment?This question puzzles us to this very day.As far as I'm concerned the gardener,Edward Jones,deserves greater credit and I'm sorry folks but Nancy Kelly was to histrionic and was annoying for me.In my opinion she was over acting the director should have asked her to tone it down a bit which was mentioned above.Mc Cormick,what can I say amazing!

November 25,2017 | Unregistered CommenterBonnie B.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: