Seed (1931 film)

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Seed 1931 film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn M. Stahl
Produced byCarl Laemmle Jr.
John M. Stahl
Written byGladys Lehman
Based on a story by Charles G. Norris
StarringJohn Boles
Lois Wilson
Genevieve Tobin
Bette Davis
Music byHeinz Roemheld
CinematographyJackson Rose
Edited byTed J. Kent
Arthur Tavares
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
May 14, 1931 (1931-05-14)
Running time
96 minutes
CountryUnited States

Seed is a 1931 American Pre-Code drama film directed by John M. Stahl. The screenplay by Gladys Lehman is based on a novel by Charles G. Norris.


Bart Carter has sacrificed a writing career so he can support his wife Peggy and their five children by working as a clerk in a New York City publishing house. When his former girlfriend Mildred Bronson, a literary agent who has been working in the Paris office, returns to the States, she arranges for Bart to draw his regular salary while working on a novel. Because his home life is so chaotic, Bart writes at Mildred's apartment during the day and frequently stays for dinner, and the two soon discover their old feelings for each other have been revived.

Bart's novel is published, and when Seed becomes a critical and commercial success, he abandons his family and moves to France with Mildred. Peggy opens a dress shop and lives with the children in an apartment above the store.

A decade later, the now-married Bart and Mildred return to New York. His grown children are delighted to see their father, who wishes to make amends for having left them. He suggests enrolling his daughter Margaret in finishing school, sending the twin boys to Harvard University, finding employment for his oldest son, and having the youngest boy live with him and Mildred. At her children's urging Peggy reluctantly agrees, although she feels she is losing them. Mildred assures her they will return to her one day, whereas she believes their renewed relationship with their father will place her own future with Bart in jeopardy.



Director John M. Stahl cast Bette Davis as Margaret Carter after seeing her in the studio commissary.[1] It proved to be the smallest role of her career, and in later years she recalled, ""If you blinked for a moment you would have missed me. I should have joined the extra's union."[2]

Critical reception[edit]

Mordaunt Hall of The New York Times felt the plot was "undoubtedly an interesting theme, but in the film it merely results in being an adult idea offered in adolescent form." He thought John Boles was "too placid to be convincing" and John M. Stahl's direction was "unimaginative." He concluded, "It is a lethargic and often dull production, in spite of the good acting by both Genevieve Tobin as Mildred and Miss Wilson as Peggy, Zazu Pitts as a servant and passable performances by some of the other players."[3]


  1. ^ Seed at Turner Classic Movies
  2. ^ Chandler, Charlotte, The Girl Who Walked Home Alone: Bette Davis, A Personal Biography. New York: Simon & Schuster 2006. ISBN 0-7432-6208-5, p. 69.
  3. ^ New York Times review

External links[edit]