Late Sunday afternoon I watched again the last part of "The Bad Seed" a 1956 movie about, how should I say it, a bad precocious, little girl. Indeed she is bad! No, pathological and she is played brilliantly by the actress who takes the role.
But even in the mid 1950's Hollywood had strict standards for movies and censorship. Why, because many in the film industry as well as in society in general had moral standards and a deep concern for the common good. It wasn't just about money, although that is why films are made, there was a sense of responsibility for building a moral society or at least not contributing to the delinquency of society. It was a part of our Judeo-Christian heritage!
Thus for a movie like "The Bad Seed" the following was in place:
"Although the novel and play had the mother dying of suicide and the evil child surviving, the Hays Code
did not allow for "crime to pay." The ending of the film thus has it
the other way around, with Christine's life being saved by the local
hospital and Rhoda being struck down by lightning while trying to
retrieve the penmanship medal from the lake which belonged to a little boy she had murdered.
In another move to appease the censors, Warner Bros. added an "adults only" tag to the film's advertising."
But in the 1950's for a movie to have a pathological little, precocious murdering child was pushing the envelope too, although I am sure the audience at the movie would have applauded and cheered the little girl's gruesome death!
So after the little girl is reduced to ashes before the audience's eyes in the last scene at the lake when a bolt of lightening (poetic justice) strikes her, this is what the audience sees as a kind of a Broadway Curtain Call. It reduced the shock of what had just occurred and let everyone know it was just a movie!