Saturday, October 24, 2009

Halfway House: Child Stars Are Demonic

Halfway through the day we stop a movie halfway through...

Oh, Christine. Gin and tonics won't help you forget your demon child!

Sixty-four minutes into The Bad Seed (1956) Christine Penmark (Nancy Kelly) tries to disguise her concerns about her daughter's malevolence under the pretense of research for a murder-mystery she's writing (Fail: She isn't even a writer!). Unfortunately family friend/criminologist expert Mr. Tasker (Gage Kelly) doesn't exactly allay her fears.
Bad Liar: The...uh... question that I wanted to ask you is a psychological one. I doubt that it's been asked or answered, if it has, until recently.

Oblivious Man:
Well, I may not know all the answers.

Bad Liar:
Well perhaps no one does. This...story that I'm thinking of writing made me wonder. Tell me, do children ever commit murders? Or is crime something that's learned gradually and grows as the criminal grows so that only adults do really dreadful things?

Oblivious Man:
Oh, yessss. Children often commit murders... and quite clever ones, too! Some murderers, particularly the distinguised ones who are going to make great names for themselves start amazingly young.

Bad Liar:
In childhood?!?
<--- Rhoda (Patty McCormack) is eeeevil. What is a mother to do?

This scene goes on and on and even repeats its exposition and thesis over again once a third adult character enters the room. 'As we were just saying...' Ha!

Stilted acting and underlined expository conversations are a true joy in the right context (i.e. old movies), aren't they? The american fascination with Psychology in the 1950s produced so many great and great/bad movie moments. I can't wait to see what StinkyLulu and crew say about this movie's two supporting actress nominees (Eileen Heckart and Patty McCormack) on Halloween weekend, can you?


Arlo said...

Ah this movie is so melodramatic. I love it. I especially love the slightly over the top work from Heckart. She was very good.

Am I the only one who was glad what happened to Leroy? He was the groundskeeper or something like that right? Either way, I couldn't stand him.

You can watch Heckart's performance here too:

One of my favorite drunken performances.

Arkaan said...

This movie is so insane. Remember the post credits spanking scene? Or Nancy Kelly clutching at her stomach in hysteria (oh the womb! The terrible womb!). Or Patty McCormack's temper tantrums. So much crazy.