The Children's Hour


Action / Drama / Romance

Plot summary

Uploaded by: OTTO

Top cast

Audrey Hepburn Photo
Audrey Hepburn as Karen Wright
Shirley MacLaine Photo
Shirley MacLaine as Martha Dobie
James Garner Photo
James Garner as Dr. Joe Cardin
Mimi Gibson Photo
Mimi Gibson as Evelyn
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
810.45 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 48 min
P/S 0 / 1
1.64 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 48 min
P/S 1 / 2

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by gavin69428 / 10

An Underrated, Under-appreciated Classic

A trouble-making student at a girls' school accuses two teachers of being lesbians.

Audrey Hepburn is probably best known for her lighter fare, and stuff that is typically shown in color. This is not light, and it is not in color. In fact, it deals with some rather modern themes, because it is hard to imagine William Wyler making a film about lesbians, and yet this is (sort of) what we have here.

Kids are treacherous. You cannot help but believe the, but if you get a lying student, he or she can cause a lot of issues and pain. The kid here is the worst. If it were not wrong to do so, this is the sort of child you would want to slap. She is almost pure evil.

Reviewed by MartinHafer9 / 10

Nearly perfect and it manages to be better than the original...

Normally I hate remakes....absolutely hate them. However, in the case of "These Three" we have a peculiar situation. While this original film was wonderful (I gave it a 9 in my review),the film was incredibly sanitized because of the very restrictive Production Code. All hints at lesbianism were removed from the script and the film was purely about the way a lie snowballs and hurts many people. It was exceptional...but completely missed the gay angle. Well, by 1961, the Production Code was still in place (barely) but standards had changed and so had the enforcement of the Code. For example, in "The Apartment" (also with Shirley MacLain but made the year before),the main theme was adultery--something that NEVER would have been approved back in the 1930s when "These Three" was made...and if they wouldn't allow a theme involving adultery, they certainly would NOT have allowed even a hint of lesbianism. Now this is NOT to say that "The Children's Hour" doesn't also hold back (after all, the words 'lesbian' or 'homosexual' are never used),it strongly implies so much and goes so far as to say that the two women were being accused of being lovers--a very modern theme! Now I am sure some today may hate the film--as it could be construed as either pro- or anti-gay---I just admire its frankness for 1961.

Audrey Hepburn and MacLaine play best friends who co-run a small boarding school for rich young ladies. MacLaine's aunt (Miriam Hopkins--who starred in the original film) works for them and is frankly of no help at all--she's self-centered and very histrionic. In this school there is one girl in particular who is a budding sociopath--she lies, is vicious and shows no evidence of any conscience. One day, after being caught and rebuked for lying, she then concocts a vicious lie and tells it rather masterfully to her gullible grandmother (Fay Bainter). The grandmother investigates and talks with Hopkins--who says many unwise things that are misconstrued by the grandmother as confirmation of her granddaughter's story. In response, she contacts all the parents who then remove all the kids from the school because of the accusations. No one even has the decency to ask the two teachers if it is true--they just sanctimoniously remove their kids (wow, that's enlightened!).

When the child is confronted for her lies, she continues lying and manages to make her grandmother side with her when the girl blackmails another child to confirm her crazy accusations about the teachers kissing and carrying on an affair in front of the students. When the teachers sue, the selfish Aunt doesn't even bother to show up to court and the judgment goes against them. As a result, Helburn's relationship with her fiancé (James Garner) is a mess--as is her relationship with her friend (MacLaine). This leads to a conclusion with MANY great twists--but I won't say them here because it really would spoil the film. However, I loved how the film did NOT stop where "These Three" stopped but had a very emotional and tragic finale that, frankly, made it a better film. I'd score them both 9 (I can't give "The Children's Hour" a 10 because it still pulled a few punches).

Some standouts in the film were MacLaine and Hopkins. Now I am NOT saying Hepburn was bad, but her part didn't give her as much chance to show off her acting abilities--it was very straight-forward and less complex. MacLaine, however, was brilliant. Her facial expressions and body language were great and she said a lot in many scenes where she actually said nothing out loud. Also, Hopkins managed to play a lady who was so easy to hate--she managed to play a self-centered and highly affected lady so well. I hate to say this, but I saw a documentary in which cast from the film talked about making this movie and apparently Hopkins pretty much played herself! Seriously. By the time the film was complete, everyone apparently hated her and the experience was NOT a positive one. But it also brought out some terrific tension in the film.

Another standout was the masterful director, William Wyler. He directed both versions, but I liked the slow and deliberate way it was filmed (it could have been about 15 minutes shorter with another director) and I loved the composition. A lovely film from start to finish--and one well worth seeing. And, I must say, that I'd love to see this incredible Lillian Hellman story redone one final time--as nowadays you could say and do ANYTHING in the film! Heck, you could even add necrophilia or cannibalism if you'd like!

Reviewed by bkoganbing10 / 10

The Love That Dare Not Even Be Thought About

The big screen finally got to see The Children's Hour as Lillian Hellman meant for it to be seen, a searing drama on the power of self hate of one's sexuality.

This Pre-Stonewall gay drama is about two teachers who run a select school for wealthy young adolescent girls. One of them, Audrey Hepburn, has been engaged for a couple of years to Doctor James Garner, but she never quite gets around to getting married. The business of running the school with her friend and business partner Shirley MacLaine consumes all the time for both of them.

A really bad seed of a kid, Karen Balkin, gets disciplined once to often as she sees it by Hepburn. The young girl concocts a story about seeing the two of them in a sex act and tells her guardian and grandmother Fay Bainter. Bainter does her own 'investigation' and confirms it in her eyes. The word spreads and the kids are withdrawn from the school rather than be tainted by being around those horrific lesbians.

The Code was coming down. Though the word lesbian is never used in the film, that's what it's all about. Back in the day, Samuel Goldwyn took this story and made it a straight triangle story with Merle Oberon, Miriam Hopkins, and Joel McCrea. Back in the day the Code said that homosexuality could not even be discussed let alone dramatized. Now we're seeing what was a landmark drama about gay people, Lillian Hellman's vision as it really was.

Just denying it isn't enough because there's a grain of truth to it. Repressed sexuality is a terrible thing and it's taking a strain on both of them. Shirley MacLaine finally cracks under it and admits that she's been crushing out on Hepburn ever since they first met in college. Remember that she lived in a society in the Thirties when The Children's Hour was first written where being gay was in some eyes worse than being an ax murderer. Finally coming out with it in the end was too much for her and it brings on terrible consequences for MacLaine.

Back in the day when I was a working investigator for New York State Crime Victims Board, I recall a case where a man killed someone and wounded two other people. The Assistant District Attorney told me after the case was over that it was because the perpetrator was involved sexually with the deceased and the deceased was not in the closet whereas our perpetrator was. The victim wanted to tell the world about what he thought was the new love of his life. The perpetrator flipped out at the mention of it and killed him and wounded two friends. Self hate, internalized homophobia can be an awfully evil thing. Hellman could easily have written her play that way as well.

Audrey Hepburn also, though she doesn't articulate it, wonders why is it she's stayed shut away in that school and doesn't commit to finally take the plunge and marry Garner. The Children's Hour is more than a play about the love that dare not speak its name, you can't even think it in the world of that time.

MacLaine and Hepburn give two of their best performances of their respective careers. Miriam Hopkins who was in These Three, plays MacLaine's aunt who's a silly creature and who betrays the two women rather than be thought she condones the alleged lesbianism. Fay Bainter gave her final big screen performance here and was nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

William Wyler who directed These Three back in the day finally got to do the version as Hellman wrote it. He does as well for Hellman here as he did in The Little Foxes. He gets some of the best work out of all the players involved, even James Garner who's playing a distinct third fiddle here in a woman's picture in every sense of the word.

The Children's Hour came to the screen in 1961. Brokeback Mountain which in many ways has the same themes as The Children's Hour for gay men was set originally in 1963. Both are great examples of the strides gay people have made in their quest for a place in the sunlight.

Yet that case I described from my working years took place in the early Nineties. The closet might be thought of as a refuge, but it's a terrible prison for too many.

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