We are watching The Bad Seed, a DVD of one of our favorite cheesy movies. Spoiler Alert: I’m going to give away major plot points to this movie, if not the ending. I don’t know if I’ll give away the ending and I know that by the time I finish the post I shall be far too lazy to go back and edit this paragraph. In my defense, it is Wrist to Forehead Sunday. If you will not accept this defense, I will explain, shut up.
The Bad Seed, for the uninitiated is a movie made in 1956 about Rhoda, a little girl who kills people, and the devastating effect this has on her mother, Christine. It was considered very shocking at the time, first as a novel, then as a Broadway play. Who could believe that a sweet little girl was a murderer? And that she had inherited the murderous gene from her grandmother? Apparently her mother was just a carrier. Well, I guess a lot of things skip a generation.
Steven’s biggest problem with the movie is that Rhoda right away seems like the kind of bad-tempered brat that might kill people. She is supposed to be the perfect little girl. She wears dresses, she keeps her room clean, she makes perfect curtsies at appropriate times. The busybody landlady wishes she had “just such a little girl.” We’re all supposed to buy into it too, apparently, and be shocked as we slowly realize what she is really like. Steven does not see how it can even be a mild surprise much less a shock. I have to agree.
My biggest problem, though, is that she never really cops to being a a murder. Everything is, “But it wasn’t my fault!” If Claude Dagel hadn’t said he was going to tell on her, she wouldn’t have had to kill him! If he would have just quietly drowned when she pushed him off the dock, she wouldn’t have had to hit him with her shoe. At least that would have been manslaughter, although this point is not thoroughly hashed out in the dialogue.
Steven is also bothered by the close-mindedness of Rhoda’s grandfather, Christine’s adoptive father, who pours self-righteous cold water on the theory of the “bad seed.” Christine, who has been chewing up the scenery ever since little Claude’s death was announced on the radio (providentially, as it often is in movies, as soon as the characters just happen to turn it on), is horrified when she realizes her biological mother was a beautiful murderess.
The high points of the movie are the two scenes with Eileen Heckert as the drunken mother of the murdered little boy. What a piece of acting! She lift the movie temporarily above the melodramatic abyss.
I probably could do a much better write-up for this movie, and perhaps I will sometime. I’m pretty sure I have mentioned the movie before, although a quick search of my posts did not show it. I say, no matter. It is Wrist to Forehead Sunday, and I have written something. Have a lovely rest of your weekend.