By Naomi Serviss / New York City
Being quarantined wasn’t all bad.
Maybe 79% bad.
The remaining 21% was tolerable.
Mostly because I indulged in a favorite activity,
Sometimes I’d watch virtually with my daughter
whose tastes sync with mine,
except for her horror proclivities.
Reading Stephen King’s It when she was 10
tipped me off what to expect from my drama queen.
Which is ironic, since Emmy signed a pledge
not to ever watch scary movies
after one particularly nightmare-producing flick
freaked her out.
So it goes.
Coincidentally, around the same time,
a plethora of cable sign-up promotions
diabolically appeared on my laptop,
designed to lure the likes of me.
I signed up for as many free trial subscriptions
as I could wrangle
for access to even more flicks!
Of course, it helps to cancel
said subscriptions before being charged
the regular price.
Easier said than remembered.
Even when placed on the calendar.
Nearly all genres were in the mix:
indies, noir, international,
psychological thrillers and comedy.
Plenty of comedy.
Notice there was no mention of horror.
Saw my fill as a child, not by choice.
My oldest brother thought it would be appropriate
to bring his 10-year-old sister
to a matinee of Blood Beach.
Feel free to visualize that epic.
Psychological thrillers are more my speed.
Especially Hitchcock movies with
Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman.
I’m still charmed by Twilight Zone episodes
involving old-timers discovering the pleasures
of childhood games like Kick the Can.
Or stepping off the train
into the old-fashioned town named Willoughby.
But the thriller that still packs a campy wallop
is an unforgettable, 1956 black-and-white film
you may know:
The Bad Seed, about a sociopathic, murderous
On a mission.
Adapted from a smash Broadway play
with the original cast,
the film starred the adorable psychopath Rhoda Penmark,
portrayed by Patty McCormack,
and her long-suffering mother,
played by Nancy Kelly.
When I learned that Patricia McCormack was appearing
in an off-Broadway production
of Paul Osborne’s play, Morning’s at Seven,
the die was cast.
I knew we had to connect.
Unfortunately, one of the principals, Judith Ivey, was injured
and the opening was pushed back.
So I wasn’t able to attend a performance
before chatting with Patricia.
McCormack’s storied career has spanned decades
since she first terrified millions
in her star-turn role.
She’s been on Playhouse 90,
worked with the likes of
Ossie Davis, Teresa Wright, William Shatner,
was the Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,
and featured in scores of
familiar television series and movies.
McCormack was a precious nugget
During the Golden Age of Television.
Now she hears audiences laugh instead of gasp.
The unanticipated opportunity to play off-Broadway
came along because her fellow actor/friend
Dan Luria suggested her for the part.
“I swear it was a surprise,”
McCormack said in a recent phone interview.
“I’ve lived in L.A. for a long time
And not been on a New York stage for a while.
“Dan said they were looking for somebody
and he threw my name in.”
The opportunity came
Towards the tail end of the quarantine.
“I’m not young,” she laughed.
“When is this going to happen again?”
Four sisters and significant (or insignificant) others
squabble, compete with and eventually
come to terms with…no spoilers here!
The schedule is intense, tough on everyone’s
body clocks, McCormack added,
regardless of age.
The play is an uplift,
Especially valued in this age of
Covid uncertainty, she said.
Her favorite Manhattan activities
(when she has a breather)
include browsing Macy’s and
mindfully appreciating her New York moment.
She credits her family of origin with
easing her navigation through early fame.
“I’ve always had a positive outlook,
and got lucky with having
a really grounded upbringing,” she said.
The Bad Seed was mistakenly categorized
as a horror movie.
When first seen, the movie shocks.
Subsequent viewings have provide ample
to notice foreshadowing.
If you haven’t had the pleasure, it’s a
must-see for cinephiles.
The Bad Seed may not have
as many Rocky Horror quotable moments,
but what it has is choice.
Naomi Serviss is a New York-based award-winning journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Highroads (AAA magazine), in-flight publications, spa and travel magazines and websites, including BroadwayWorld.com