Timothy Hutton won an Oscar for his film debut as a suicidal high schooler haunted by his older brother's accidental drowning. But the movie's true gut punch comes from the counterintuitive casting of sunshiny Mary Tyler Moore as the appearance-obsessed, feeling-phobic matriarch who can't tolerate the disintegration of her family after her favorite son's death: Here, she can turn the world off with denial.
KLEENEX MOMENT Hutton's agonized therapy session with Judd Hirsch over his guilt for surviving the sailing accident (Hirsch: ''What was the one thing wrong you did?'' Hutton: ''I hung on'').
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Rhoda Penmark (Patty McCormack) The Bad Seed (1956)
CHILD'S PLAY Rhoda efficiently dispatches anyone who keeps her from getting her own way. Nervous Mom (Nancy Kelly) senses that something in her own life is horribly wrong.
CHILLING MOMENT Having drowned a boy (offscreen) because he beat her in a penmanship contest, she says, ''Why should I feel sorry? It was Claude Daigle got drowned, not me.''
WHY SHE SCARES US The movie seems campy now, but in the comfy, conformist '50s, the notion of a remorselessly homicidal child was a shocker. McCormack, who had played the role in the hit Broadway play, brought Rhoda to the screen with unsettling glee, earning herself an Oscar nomination.