Community Film Picks: The Bad Seed
Fri, Mar 17, 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm


For March 2023’s Community Film Picks, Bushel is pleased to present The Bad Seed, directed by Mervyn LeRoy, and released in 1956. See trailer here. Doors at 6:45 pm; screening begins at 7 pm. This program is free to attend. There is seating for 30; attendance is mask optional. Many thanks to Anne Elizabeth Moore for picking this film! She will lead a post-screening discussion.


The Bad Seed
directed by Mervyn LeRoy, 1956.

An allegedly proto-feminist, truly shocking horror film that somehow contains no gore or even on-screen death, The Bad Seed—the 1956 original—famously relays the story of an eight-year-old psychopath whose mother, over the course of the film, comes to understand her own complicity in her daughter’s increasingly violent crimes. Mervyn LeRoy’s translation of a popular stage play by Maxwell Anderson itself adapted from a bestselling novel by William March, The Bad Seed is a film forged by Hollywood censorship and the ravages of World War II that sought to shift public debate about who is to blame for violence and wrong-doing. Nominated for several Academy and Golden Globe Awards, and winning one of the latter, the film was remade for television in 1985, inspired the Off-Broadway show Ruthless! in 1992, was the basis for the 1993 filmThe Good Son, and was remade for television again by Rob Lowe in 2017, now for Lifetime. A sequel is in post-production now.

William March, the pen name of confirmed (and reclusive) bachelor William Campbell, died within months of the book’s release, well before he saw the success of his most celebrated work. A decorated US Marine, he sprinkled the story with compelling references to mid-century queer life but buried references to the war he fought and profited from in his later business enterprise. While the film’s you-go-girl veneer disguises a psychological argument against all women, The Bad Seed is nonetheless charming and hilarious, with an ending you will never forget.

—Anne Elizabeth Moore, September 2022


Anne Elizabeth Moore is based in the Catskills. Her recent book Gentrifier: A Memoir was an NPR Best Book of 2021. She teaches at SVA and is currently on assignment for The Guardian. Her 2017 book Body Horror: Capitalism, Fear, Misogyny, Jokes will be updated for the pandemic and rereleased by Feminist Press in April 2023. The Bad Seed is her favorite film, but she is probably not going to murder you if you win an award she thinks she deserves.


Community Film Picks is a once-a-month film night at Bushel taking place on third Fridays at 7 pm. Bushel invites the community to propose films for future screenings. For information please send us an email.