"The girl! How much for the little girl?"
Jump for joy kiddies, BigRuta is back! Sorry it’s been two months since my last post, but I been on summer vacation. Yep, I been traveling around these here U S’s of A and I had a ball! Word of advice for those of you who may be trekking though the heartland of ‘Merica – stop in at Big Sal’s Truck Stop and Travel Emporium if you are near Marked Tree, Arkansas. I’ve never been anywhere like it! You can get some grub, fuel up, stay the night, play the slots, and watch bulls become steer (I almost fainted!). The owner is Sally Mae Cooter. She and her husband Bocefus will be right glad to see ya. Oh and be sure to say howdy to their daughter, the lovely Ida Sue Cooter. I went for a walk with her out back of the propane tanks and she showed me just how sexy webbed toes can be!
More about my summer of discovery in upcoming posts – now let’s get to the flick!
Today’s movie is The Bad Seed, Warner Brothers, 1956. The Bad Seed was originally a book by Maxwell Anderson that became a hit on Broadway. I chose to review this movie because it shows that what I refer to as “B-Movies” are not always the cheap silly drive-in kind of films that most people think of when they hear the phrase b-movie. Many films that are a bit odd or shocking or unsettling fall under my umbrella term b-movie. Most films that have become cult hits also belong in this category. The Bad Seed definitely qualifies!
The Penmarks are a typical upper middle class 50’s family. Dad is an army officer, Mom is a homemaker and their daughter, little Rhoda is a smart, sweet and very feminine girl. Strangely, people who upset Rhoda seem to end up dying in unpleasant ways.
Oh come on! Do you really need me to tell you?
The Bad Seed is a very well put together film. However, some modern viewers may find the pacing and dialog a bit odd. Because the Broadway play was such a success (Nancy Kelly who plays Rhoda’s mother Christine won a Tony) the producers of the film took no chances. What we see is basically the play but with the addition of some outdoor settings. Because this is simply a filmed play, most of the plot comes through as expository dialog. We know what has happened because we hear the characters talking about it. We don’t actually see any action. Most of the actors are the same ones who starred in the Broadway play, so they know their parts backward and forward. The dialog may seem a bit fast for normal conversation, but not as fast as some older British Shakespearean productions!
Okay so, we learn that Rhoda is a spoiled rotten little daddy’s girl. The Penmark’s landlady Monica gives Rhoda a ton of gifts and praises her every move. Rhoda’s father Kennith is almost a noncharacter. He is there to show that there is a dad involved and that this is a happy idyllic 1950’s family. Kennith is gone away in Washington for most of the movie. We do get to hear some rather disturbing dialog from Rhoda about her father: “You’re so big and strong!” and “I’ll miss your kisses Daddy!” Maybe I’m just a perv, but that stuff is creepy!
Rhoda’s mom Christine is a typical nervous nelly 1950’s mom. She wrings her hands and buries her face in her hands when upset and claps her hands when she wants Rhoda’s attention. Oh and she has always had the feeling that she does not belong, she often felt that she was adopted. One good thing about Christine is that she can and does see through Rhoda’s manipulation of others. Just a bit too late.
And then there is Leroy. Leroy is the Penmark’s handyman. Leroy is a great character, second only to Rhoda. He is kind of sleazy. He “likes” Christine – nudge, nudge. And he is the only one who understands, from the beginning, that Rhoda is a spoiled self-centered manipulator. His habit of goofing off and napping on a pallet of packing material he has made in the cellar will turn out bad for him in the end.
If you have been paying attention, you may have noticed that I give away the plots of the movies I think are fun but stupid. I do this so that you can enjoy the silly stuff without necessarily sitting through the actual flick. Call it a public service. You’re welcome. But I do not give away the stories of the movies I think you should watch. I just try to give you a taste, a little idea of what the film is about and why I think it may be worth your time. I gave you a rather big taste of “The Abominable Dr. Phibes.” But in this case, I think I should hold back. So…
Rhoda is a sociopath. She cares nothing for anyone but herself. She might have some feelings for her parents, but they seem contrived. No one seems to understand this, except for Leroy but he learns that it is dangerous to underestimate this little girl. Christine starts to put the clues together, but refuses to believe that Rhoda could be evil. Then she learns a family secret from her father – can you guess? With this knowledge she finally confronts Rhoda. Ultimately, Christine does what she feels she must, and that is the end of the story.
Unfortunately, that is not the end of the film. Well, it was the 1950’s and Christine’s solution simply could not be seen as being endorsed by the film makers, so they tag on a really rather hokey ending for the film. I think this was a mistake. The film should have ended with Christine’s final act of conscience. That would have been a powerful end. People would no doubt have been outraged, but so what. I would rather have a much more dramatic shocking ending then a clean stupid ending.
Rhoda’s comment’s about a schoolmate’s death, “I thought it was exciting!” and “Why should I feel sorry? It was Claude Daigle got drowned, not me”
Leroy about Rhoda, “She sees through me, but I see through her.” and “Ain’t scared of nuthin huh? I’ll find a way to scare you!”
Leroy to Rhoda, “That’s the thing about blood. You can wash and wash, but you can’t get it all off.”
In a great scene that is too long to quote, Leroy tells Rhoda about the electric chair!
The Bad Seed is a great little film that you should take the time to see. It has influenced many films that came after it. Oh and to further reinforce the fact that it was a play, the cast is introduced one-by-one at the end to take a bow.
And then Nancy Kelly (Christine) spanks Patty McCormack (Rhoda)!
Another Saturday night, another blonde.
While I watched The Bad Seed, I had myself a taste of another blond in pigtails – St. Pauli Girl Lager.
St. Pauli Girl Lager is brewed by St. Pauli Brauerei in Bremen, Germany. It is one of the three European lagers that achieved mass market distribution in the US in the 1970’s. Can you name the other two? Hint: one is from Holland and one is from Germany. Need another? Okay. Hint 2: they both come in green bottles. Still don’t know? Hint 3: their names start with H and B respectively. If you still can’t figure it out, then go drink some Thunderbird – you’re useless!
St. Pauli Girl Lager is a clear bright yellow brew with a fine bubbled semipersistent head. The aroma is very light and hoppy. ABV: 4.9% and IBU ~ 20.
The taste is crisp with a nice sour finish and aftertaste that lasts a while. St. Pauli Girl feels like a more robust beer, a lager with a slight bit of ale body to it.
Those who like American mass market lagers should try St. Pauli Girl. It may make you want to try more European beers, and that is always a good thing.
Well folks, that’s about it for now. Remember, questions, comments and requests are always welcome. See ya soon!
Okay! Okay! Heiniken and Becks. Jeez! What a bunch of babies!