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Bad Girl, Bad Seed, Give Her Those Shoes Leroy
Oct. 04, 2010 Updated August 27, 2014
But She Looks So Innocent...
Rhoda Is A Bad Seed
When it comes to the scariest Monsters of all time, I list little Rhoda Penmark . This psycho-thriller, The Bad Seed, was written in an earlier time. Life was simple, but becoming more complex, partially due to an increased awareness of Criminal Psychology.
An interesting Novel published April 6,1954. "The Bad Seed" was written by William March . William Campbell March was an interesting character himself, with a life that would also make an excellent novel. He was a poor Southern child. The oldest son born into a family of eleven children. They grew up in a lumber mill town, that did not afford educational opportunities. March did work in the mill office as a teen, and later worked in a law office.
William March enlisted in the Marines at the start of WW1 he got mustard gas poisoning from soil that had previously been saturated, while he was searching firewood. At the end of his prestigious military career from which he earned medals for bravery and heroism, he continued his education, that included Creative Writing classes. He published "Company K", in 1933. "The Looking Glass" was published in 1943, and "The Bad Seed" was the last novel he published. It came out on April 6, 1954, and he passed May 15, 1954.
Sadly, he did not live long enough for him realize the fame and recognition that came with the showing of the Movie: The Bad Seed. The Screenplay was written by Maxwell Anderson, and this televised play is Directed by Mervyn LeRoy debuted in 1956..
Sigmund Freud was a mover and shaker in the 'psych' fields during the early 1900s. He was talking openly about S-e-x. He introduced the theory that little girls or women may suffer from penis envy, and that there is much sexual undercurrent in every aspect of a person's life.
The Ego! The Id, Americans were not as often looking to some 'heavenly home', but inside to what makes people tick. Society began to understand that children were affected by more than their environment. Ground was being broken to link heredity with criminal behavior. Dr. Freud's theories intrigued author William March, who wrote the original novel, 'The Bad Seed."
The psychopath was not fully understood, but there was finally recognition they existed, and the ideas of criminals coming from 'low bred' families was more palatable when citing the blessed American Dream offered for a simple combination of behaviors.
This was a time where a standard was held; that If you are a good wife, make your husband happy, keep the home decent, keep yourself "dressed" at all times, willing to entertain any jerk or a-hole with grace, keep the kids clean, and pressed, your life should be "A-Okay", every step you take should keep you on that golden path with a white picket fence, and 0 divorce rate. Everyone was operating under the mistaken belief that people and life can be "perfect".
"The Bad Seed" shows odd familial relationships throughout the entire story. The 10,000 line poem William March completed when he was 12, wasn't gone, just transformed, The Bad Seed has many good "one liners" that to me are volumes crying out for notice. There are some lines posted, others have been left in the movie.
From The Bad Seed, played by Patty McCormack - "Rhoda Penmark..."
"I have the prettiest Mother" , "I want to play the way we used to, will you play with me...?"
"...I hit him with the shoes, I hit him with the shoes, what else could I do?...he wouldn't give me the medal like I told him to, that's all...he kept on crying, and I was afraid someone would hear him, so I Hit him again! I hit him harder, and he fell in the water..."
"Why would I tell and get killed?"
"...I slipped and fell against her...I slipped on purpose..."
"You bring them back!", "You bring them back!"
"LeRoy, you Give me back my shoes!..."
...At the ripe age of 8, she has at least 3 bodies to her credit, and shows no sign of stopping...
The Original Trailer Owned by Warner Brothers Renewed Lic.
Rhoda's Mom, Christine, is Kenneth's wife, and Richard Bravo's adopted father, and the daughter of B Dunker, mass murderer
facts about Rhoda's activities and personality are becoming too drastic to ignore, or press away. Christine Penmark is holding her family together, taking care of everyone. She is getting a lot of assistance with Rhoda, from their landlord and frequent neighbor, Mrs. Breedlove. Christine's husband is in Washington, D.C., while they are I think in Florida.
Christine's Father has come by for a visit, he travels, and is a reporter, that used to do crime reporting, until he absconded Christine (Engle Danker), and he and his wife "adopted her." She is trying to keep it all together, but she is coming close to the breaking point.
Instead of her Dad, Mr. Bravo, just telling her the truth, he plays this quiz game to get her to come to the truth about her origin, then acts as if all of these lies he told her all of her life, are something she should be able to absorb, and go on with her duties. Mr. Bravo has outdated ideas about Criminal Psychology, or maybe he doesn't he is just lying to himself.
This is Mrs. Penmark's liners of her conversation with her "Daddy", asking him if she is adopted, and where did she really originate?
Her "Daddy", Mr. Bravo says, what is bothering you?
"...I was afraid my mommy wasn't really my mother, and the daddy that I love isn't really mine"
"...my little girl Rhoda...I am afraid for her...I'm afraid what she may have inherited from me...please don't lie to me...the time is past when that will help...are you really my father?"
"I'm sorry, I won't ask any more questions..."
"...you found me somewhere...I know the place...I must've dreamed it...I dream of a bedroom in a farmhouse...my mother's voice calling me in the distance...Ingle...Ingle Danker. Oh, Daddy, you've kept this from me all these years..."
"...whose child am I?"
"...are you my Father?"
"...for Rhoda's sake and my sake, I must know..."
"...besides, I know the answer now...yes..."
"...you found me somewhere..."
"...I know the place...I am alone in the room, I get out the window...I begin to eat the yellow pippens that fall from the trees...I hear my Mother calling my name...'Engle, Engle DANKER!"
Leroy, Give Me Those Shoes!
If there are any killers or perverts in the Bad Seed, LeRoy would have been voted #1, in the 1930s. He probably fiddles with kids and ladies underwear, but realizes he is walking on a thin line with the likes of Widow Breedlove as his benevolent parole officer or sponsor.
He is mean, and to coin a southern colloquialism; he acts like a short dog in tall grass - shady. He is from the low side of the tracks socially, but identifies with Rhoda.
He crosses as many boundaries as he can. His society, or the women he 'takes care of', because he is a predominate character, the only "Male" figure always around. He is a Family Man, with an invisible family.
He is that sinister Sam, whispering asides of evil rumblings and proposed actions to female members within his reach. He should not have had access to an 8 year old little girl, in a very short dress. This eight year old, can take care of herself.
"I ain't supposed to talk to Little Ms Perfect"
"...there may not be a 'stick bloodhound', but they will find a stick'
"...have you ever heard the sound an 'lectric chair makes?...oh, yea. they got a little blue chair for boys, and they got a Pink chair for little gals..."
"...you didn't hit that little boy with no stick, I think you used them shoes..."
"...at first I was kiddin' around, but I think you did it!, I think you killed that little boy with them shoes..."
"...how come I got them shoes then?"
"...spose I heard them shoes coming down the incinerator...they're scorched, but plenty left to show you used them shoes..."
Kenneth - Rhoda's Absentee Father - Mrs. Penmark's Absentee Husband
Mrs. Penmark, Rhoda's mother, has learned in a very short time that her "loving Father" is not really her Father. He removed her from a Crime Scene, and claimed Christine, for his own gold.
She is trying to get to the Truth of her own origin, and some explanation as to why her beautiful daughter is a psychopath.
Her adoptive Father, Mr. Bravo, tells her, she has made Kenneth very happy, her house is clean, she is able to hold down the fort while her husband is off making big money, and only home to endow his 'good girls' with gifts.
Kenneth is transferred to Washington D.C. finally shows up at the end of the movie, but he seems mostly useless.
"Just a Little Girl"- Patty McCormack - The Bad Seed - Owned by Warner Brothers
Richard Bravo - Christine's Adoptive Father
When I first saw this movie in the 1960s, it left an impression on me for life. It scared the dickens out of me. Not monsters climbing from the swamp, or swallowing a diner, but people who present one thing and are another. You never know...
This time around, I am analyzing the 'liners' of Richard Bravo, and I see this in a new way. Words mean what they mean. Perhaps in the 30s, 40's and 50's the language used was so much more different, but to me these conversations, these 'lines' are loaded!
"...am I looking too close, or is there something weighing heavy on your mind?"
"...at writing? she doesn't even know how to spell..."
"...well, its nice to be alone again with my girl..."
"...what could she possibly have inherited..."
"...what has Rhoda done?"
"...all this inheritance stuff is pure rubbish..."
"...right darling, lets just close the book."
"...hadn't been for you becoming part of my life..."
"...you were magic for me"
"...yes, in a very strange place..." "I don't think you could have, you were under 2 years old"
"...what name did she call you?" "you remember that name?"
"...the neighbors found you before your mother disappeared"
"...we couldn't resist" "it was the neighbors who found you and saved you, would you rather have stayed with them?"
"...you did a magic for me, I'd always wanted a little girl, and you were everything lovely a little girl could be for her dad."
Monica Breedlove - Psychoanalyst Neighbor
Monica - a property owner, well educated, a "large woman". She is an amateur psychologist, if she had been male instead, she would perhaps been an actual psychologist. She has met Sigmund Freud, and been analyzed by another famous shrink of the time. The mentions Freud a lot, so she is interested in others, and she is drawn to Rhoda ~ The Bad Seed...Is this because she suspects Rhoda may be a psychopath? She seems to have a girl-crush on her, but Whenever she gives her lines, there are always sexual overtones.
"He told me I was drawn to marriage by the images of the name Breedlove. Of course love is romance and ..., and I don't have to tell you about the other...(Breed).
"...please tell me what it is...you'll feel better now..."
"...what has she done?"
"...come Rhoda, come up with me for ..."
"...I have a locket I am going to give you"
From the Mental Health Community
- A Neuroscientist Uncovers A Dark Secret : NPR
For nearly 20 years, neuroscientist Jim Fallon has studied the brains of psychopaths. After learning that his ancestry included alleged murderers, he decided to study his own brain. He was shocked at what he discovered.
- A Psychoanalytic View of the Psychopath
- A Natural Little Girl: Reproduction and Naturalism in The Bad Seed as Novel, Play, and Film Adaptat
© 2010 Lori J Latimer