Are people born evil? I was reminded of that question watching the twist in the TV series “Secrets and Lies” which immediately brought to mind “The Bad Seed”, a book written in 1954 which in turn was made into an award winning play that same year and an acclaimed movie in 1956. In something very rarely done most of the original actors in the play also made the movie and it was a true version of the former except for a very silly ending which I will get to in a minute.
Are some murderers born without a conscious, without knowing the difference between good and bad, who commit crimes without giving them any thought? That was the premise of The Bad Seed and caused a lot of controversy at that time. Now, 60 years later, that question is brought up again in this TV series, in fact almost committing plagiarism by lifting the explanation for the murder practically word for word.
In the movie, because of the ’Hollywood movie code’ at the time, they changed the more than shocking ending of the book and play and also added a laugh out loud because it was so ridiculous introduction of the cast during the ending credits. Granted the acting by Nancy Kelly, Patty McCormick and Eileen Heckart, all Oscar nominated, was first rate and believable but did they really have to tell the audience these were actors playing a role?
“The Bad Seed” is a riveting movie, available on YouTube, that was remade for TV in 1985 in a forgettable version, that is mostly forgotten now though the question it asks is still being discussed.
1956 “The Bad Seed” Trailer
2015 “Secret and Lies” trailer