Select Page

Book Vs. Movie: The Bad Seed 

The 1954 Novel Vs the1956 Film

The Margos finish out the month of October with our final scary book & movie for the season–The Bad Seed. Written by William March and published in 1954 shortly before his death by a heart attack at the age of 60. The first adaptation was a play in the same year the book was published and starred Nancy Kelly (who won the Tony in 1955 for Best Actress,) Patty McCormack, and Eileen Heckert who would all go on to play their same parts in the film version in 1956. 

The story of Rhoda Penmark, an eight-year-old child who just happens to possess murderous impulses, and her mother who may or may not be the “reason” she is a sociopath was a HUGE publishing hit and nominated for the National Book Award for Fiction.  Part of it was the psychology used to try and find out why Christine is so afraid of her daughter and why she feels responsible due to her own serial killer parent. (If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother!)  

The film earned Kelly, Heckert, and McCormack Academy Award nominations for their performances and earned $4 million at the box office. The ending changed dramatically from the original version to the film due to the Hays Code but it still delivers scares after all of these years. 

So, between the novel and the movie–which did we prefer? 

In this ep the Margos discuss:

  • The life of writer William March
  • How psychology was used blatantly in movies in the 1950s. 
  • The main differences between the novel & film. 
  • Starring: Nancy Kelly (Christine Penmark,) Patty McCormack (Rhoda Penmark,) Henry Jones (Leroy Jessup,) Eileen Heckert (Hortense Daigle,) Evelyn Varden (Monica Breedlove,) Willam Hopper (Kenneth Penmark,) and Paul Fix as Richard Bravo. 

Clips used:

  • Leroy taunts Rhoda
  • The Bad Seed  trailer
  • Rhoda burns Leroy
  • Monica and crew talk about psychology and murder
  • Christine talks about being adopted 
  • Music by Alex North

Book Vs. Movie is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. Find more podcasts you will love Frolic.Media/podcasts


Join our Patreon page to help support the show! 

Book Vs. Movie podcast

Twitter @bookversusmovie

Email us at [email protected]

Margo D. @BrooklynFitChik [email protected]

Margo P. @ShesNachoMama 

Our logo was designed by Madeleine Gainey/Studio 39 Marketing Follow on Instagram @Studio39Marketing & @musicalmadeleine 

Check out this NEW episode of Book Vs. Movie!