Though this is before he became the great director that everyone know today, it is still possible to see some genuine Wilder touches in Bad Seed. The same biting truth and style of character shine through. The dialogue is not at the level that he ultimately reached and it feels a little lost in translation. But the things that are noticed in the film could only ever be noticed and delivered by Billy Wilder.
A pleasant jazz-era entertainment, rocked by a great score that plays throughout and full of the giddiness and abandonment that would end with the Great War. Wilder's directorial debut contains his clever humor and loose definition of crime and punishment -- the car thief takes the pretty girl to Casablanca at the end (some punishment). Danielle Darrieux has aged as well as the movie, still going strong at age 99.
Mr. Wilder would of course go on to make some seriously polished Hollywood movies; white glimmering elephants. But here! Lo and behold! Some honest-to-goodness termite art! In fact, as for the ragged stuff of the Nouvelle Vague - the stuff pried roughly from on location, the playful jokes and antic formal business - we find a true predecessor here. This thing is out in the streets, wildly unkempt, on a spirited lark.