The Children's Hour

( 4 )

Overview

Based on the 1934 play by Lillian Hellman, The Children's Hour is set at an exclusive girl's school managed by best friends Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine. When student Karen Balkin is punished for one of her many misdeeds, the mean-spirited youngster rushes to her wealthy aunt Fay Bainter, and, randomly choosing a phrase she has undoubtedly read in some magazine, accuses Hepburn and MacLaine of having an "unnatural relationship." As Balkin's lies grow in viciousness, the student's parents withdraw their ...
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Overview

Based on the 1934 play by Lillian Hellman, The Children's Hour is set at an exclusive girl's school managed by best friends Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine. When student Karen Balkin is punished for one of her many misdeeds, the mean-spirited youngster rushes to her wealthy aunt Fay Bainter, and, randomly choosing a phrase she has undoubtedly read in some magazine, accuses Hepburn and MacLaine of having an "unnatural relationship." As Balkin's lies grow in viciousness, the student's parents withdraw their children from the school. Hepburn and MacLaine sue Bainter for libel, only to lose their case when MacLaine's aunt Miriam Hopkins refuses to testify as a character witness. The trial takes its toll on the relationship between Hepburn and her boyfriend James Garner. When Bainter discovers that her niece has been lying, she tries to make amends, but it is too late. Director William Wyler had also helmed the first film version of Children's Hour, 1936's These Three, which due to censorship restrictions of the time did without the lesbian angle the little girl's accusations involved a supposed romantic triangle between the two ladies and a male friend. Miriam Hopkins, who plays a supporting role in The Children's Hour, originally essayed the Shirley MacLaine role in These Three.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Apart from their notorious personal relationship, the literary intersection of longtime lovers Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett was a fascinating one. Just as Hammett's bright but brief career was coming to a close, Hellman's was beginning. Interestingly, it was Hammett who gave Hellman the original topic for her first play, 1934's The Children's Hour, and coached her through the many rewrites. The work dealt with an accusation of lesbianism in a private school for girls, and while controversial for the times, the play brought her to the forefront of American playwrights. Though denied consideration for a Pulitzer Prize due to the subject matter, Hellman would work with director William Wyler to bring the story to the screen two years later as These Three. Due to the play's notoriety, the title, the lesbian element and one of the main character's suicides had to be altered to meet the standards of the Hollywood Production Code. The movie turned out quite well regardless of the changes, but a full quarter of a century later, Wyler decided to remake These Three true to its original text. Even in 1962, acknowledging lesbianism as a sexual identity in a movie was hardly commonplace -- only a scant few had, including the excellent German film M├Ądchen in Uniform and 1950's Caged. Wyler and his two female leads, Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn, do an admirable job of staying true to the material without diminishing its impact.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/12/2014
  • UPC: 738329135829
  • Original Release: 1961
  • Rating:

  • Source: Kl Studio Classics
  • Region Code: A
  • Time: 1:47:00
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Sales rank: 35,266

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Audrey Hepburn Karen Wright
Shirley MacLaine Martha Dobie
James Garner Dr. Joe Cardin
Miriam Hopkins Mrs. Lily Mortar
Fay Bainter Amelia Tilford
Karen Balkin Mary Tilford
Veronica Cartwright Rosalie
William Mims
Florence MacMichael
Jered Barclay Grocery Boy
Mimi Gibson Student
Hope Summers Old Lady
Technical Credits
William Wyler Director, Producer
Edward Boyle Set Decoration/Design
Fernando Carrere Art Director
John Michael Hayes Screenwriter
Dorothy Jeakins Costumes/Costume Designer
Fred Lau Sound/Sound Designer
Emile LaVigne Makeup
Alex North Score Composer
Franz Planer Cinematographer
Robert E. Relyea Asst. Director
Robert Swink Editor
Robert Wyler Producer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(2)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Veronica Cartwright's Breakthrough Performance; I Want To Be Mary!!!!!!

    Veronica Cartwright made a career for herself with her portrayal of Rosalie in this film. No one before or since has done screen hysteria quite as genuinely as she, and she has been doing variations on it for the last 40 years. That said, 'The Children's Hour' holds up remarkably well for a film. The times may have changed, but the issues are still out there, and those who do not think so are fooling themselves. I first discovered this film at 12, latching onto it for its demonstration of the power children can sometimes have over adults; nearly 40 years later I now understand how consequential that power can be if used destructively. Which is what 'The Children's Hour' is actually about, its labeling today as a 'lesbian play' to the contrary. For years one thing has always bothered me about the film--and that is Karen Balkin, who plays Mary. Now I can understand her casting. There are several moments early on where Mary comes off as appealing, like when she first sees her Grandmother on visitor's day. She has an innocent visage which as her viciousness becomes more and more apparent makes her appear even more frightening. Contrast this with Bonita Granville in 'These Three,' who the minute she came on screen scared the viewer to death. Mary should not be scary--at first. That she turns out to be is what makes 'The Children's Hour' work and Miss Balkin does achieve this effect. Hepburn and Maclaine give two of their strongest performances ever; watch the latter in her speech about 'the lie with the oucne of truth.' Hepburn's walk at the end is the most elegant snub in screen history. Miriam Hopkins is a hoot as Mrs. Mortar, yet manages to make the character human in both positive and negative terms. Faye Bainter is simply magnificent as Mrs. Tilford, who despite her righteousness is a tragic and sympathetic figure. The cinematography won as Oscar and adds some wonderful atmosphere, as does Alex North's music score. If like me you have been away from 'The Children's Hour' too long, give it another look. You will be remarkably surprised.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    SUPERB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The Childrens Hour was an excellent movie! The acting was superb. It is amazing how the times have changed when it comes to certain subjects. I recommend this movie to everyone, especially if you are an old movie watcher.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews