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The Children's Hour

The Children's Hour(1961)

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  • if only !

    • victor
    • 12/2/17

    Doris Day, and Katherine Hepburn, were considered for this film. I think that it would have been just as good, and very good for Doris's career at that time

  • The Pilgrims Cower

    • Larry Welk
    • 5/8/17

    Negative grandma - stuck in her bourgoise sense of indecency; negative Mary - stuck in a desperate childish personality that wants nothing to do with living at school instead of at home; ordinary Joe - stuck in his hetero experience; poor Martha- stuck inside the box; autorighteous Karen- strutting off far from the mind contracted crowd! Pure Hellmanic biaslessness!

  • MacLaine Soars as Scorned and Shamed Headmistress

    • Tawny
    • 5/2/17

    Snotty-nosed rich brat tells rich grandma that her school's headmistresses--MacLaine and Hepburn--are lesbian lovers. Dumbo grandma buys the lie hook, line, and sinker, destroying the school and careers of two bright teachers. The two and Hepburn's doctor fiance (Garner) fight the lie, but in so doing a truth comes to light. Martha (MacLaine) reveals to Karen (Hepburn) that she really IS in love with her. As her character pleadingly asks, "Why did she (the child) pick the lie with a shread of truth in it?" For 1962 cinema, it's heady stuff as MacLaine comes to grips with her true feelings for Karen, while Karen tries to reconcile those feelings with their friendship, and Karen's fiance wonders if, in fact, the two really are lovers. The three of them try to rewind their relationships to the beginning once the rumor is proven to be false, but it won't work. MacLaine is brilliant here--as the third wheel in the relationship between Hepburn and Garner, seeming to be in love with both. As the shamed teacher fighting for her job and reputation. As the gutted woman confessing her love for another woman. Her character's subsequent suicide punctuates that perhaps the only thing worse than telling a lie is living a lie in fear of living one's truth. Good film. Good acting.

  • children's hour/these 3 comparison

    • kevin sellers
    • 12/30/15

    Sure was interesting to view these two films, based on Lillian Hellman's play, and directed by William Weyler, with a twenty five year hiatus, back to back. I liked both, but I'd have to give the edge to "Children's Hour" because I thought it more powerfully expressed what I feel is the theme of Hellman's play; the destructiveness of rumor and falsehood. A lot of the force of that theme is diluted by the earlier film's upbeat ending, where Hopkins, Oberon, and McRae live happily ever after, and Mary, the child liar, is slapped by Margaret Hamilton (playing a good witch, for a change!) If there is a "happy ever after" denouement then where is the corrosiveness of Mary's malice? Weyler, in his remake, takes care of that problem by dynamiting happiness with a suicide and a broken marriage. So, while I did not particularly care for the message sent in the 1961 film that homosexuality is a fatal disease, there is no denying that "Children's Hour" is properly bleak throughout, as befits the tone of Hellman's play, and which the Hays Office would not permit in 1936. And anytime you can spit in the eye of the censorship crowd you're living right. So, let's give "Children's Hour" an A minus and "These 3" a B. P.S. One thing you can not deny is the superiority of Bonita Granville's Mary in "These 3" to the generically lumpish brat in "Children's Hour." It's like comparing Stalin to Putin. And how about a tip of the ol acting cap to Miriam Hopkins who is in both films, in major roles, and is great in each. A most under appreciated actress.


    • Mary Bowles
    • 12/29/15

    Scotch Verdict: Miss Pirie and Miss Woods v. Dame Cumming Gordon (1983), by Lillian Faderman (author of Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers), recounts the historical incident[1] on which Hellman based her play.In 1810 in Edinburgh, Scotland, a pupil named Jane Cumming accused her schoolmistresses, Jane Pirie and Marianne Woods, of having an affair in the presence of their pupils. Dame Cumming Gordon, the accuser's influential grandmother, advised her friends to remove their daughters from the boarding school. Within days the school was deserted and the two women had lost their livelihood. Pirie and Woods sued and eventually won, both in court and on appeal, but given the damage done to their lives, their victory was considered hollow.

  • Classic

    • Kona Rose
    • 5/6/14

    Slander is a form of bullying, learned in childhood, perfected in adulthood. We have only recently exposed the reality of bullying in the schools. But what about the bullying in the workplace, in the home, everywhere? Still tolerated, looked at the other way, not confronted, and with no accountability for the serious damages, even loss of life as its consequences. I loved this movie since the first time I saw it. Would love to be able to see an enforceable law, without attorneys and courts involved, to hold loose lips and aggressive imaginations to equal disciplinarian action.

  • There's something about Mary

    • Phil
    • 1/15/14

    Though the story is not really about the bad little girl, it is the child who drives the story with her actions and motives and it is the child who deserves the scrutiny that most people bestow on the main characters and their unfortunate situation. Mary is an expert on 'naughty' and she is an expert at finding it in the world and people around her. Look at Mary and you'll discover a whole new story within a story.

  • The Children's Hour

    • John
    • 8/5/13

    Overall-4/5Lead Performers-4/5Supporting Cast-4/5Director-4/5Screenplay-5/5Cinematography-4/5Importance-3 1/2 out of 5Recommendation for fans of the genre-4/5

  • No Justice for the Victims

    • Howard Moses
    • 7/12/12

    As a retired teacher, I witnessed the consequences of malicious students' lies and insane gossip. This film is really about the damage those atrocities can do in any situation. If The Children's Hour (1961) is about lesbian love, it is about it in the unrequieted sense. Even if the truth comes out, oft times the victims are not restored to their positions, as that would mean that an administrator or parent was in error. Even worse, the self-esteem of the source of the lies is usually more important than the life of the victim. This movie is about a sickness that continues to the present which inexplicably makes people want to believe that which juicy and puriant, rather than what is plausible and what the evidence may actually support. It is an indicment of society as a whole. It is an idictment of people who should know better.

  • Exceptional...

    • Kate
    • 11/19/11

    An incredible capture of the angst and turmoil that is unfortunately still preset today. I can identify with this movie on all levels. Amazingly insightful, genuine, sad and raw. Someone said "ahead of its time" and that is spot on. It tugs at ever fiber if you're gay and you'll find yourself nodding, crying and filled with empathy.

  • LOVE this movie!!!

    • Angela H
    • 11/19/11

    This movie is great on so many levels... you have Shirley Mclane who is brilliant and Audrey Hepburn who is equally marvelous with a sprinkle of James Garner that makes the movie one of my essentials. Without giving the story away, the premise of having an evil lie from a child destroy the lives of obviously good people pulls at your emotions wanting good to trump evil. Until the verify end your hoping for vendication but... ok I wont spoil it but you won't be disappointed

  • Impossible to turn off...

    • David Patterson
    • 9/25/11

    Have you ever had the experience of seeing one of your favourite films come on the tube, and your reaction is "I've seen this two or three times recently, I don't think I'll bother watching it again". And then you turn it on for a moments glance, and you end up watching it through? That is what happened with The Children's Hour. It deals with a sensitive subject very subtly. Audrey Hepburn and Shirley Maclaine are perfectly balanced, and are two of the most "camera friendly" actresses in the business. James Garner is an under-rated actor, who was notably brilliant in The Americanization of Emily. The antagonists are brilliantly portrayed, and like all good stories, it is told with adequate complexity, enabling interest, but lucidly enough not to confuse. This movie is included in my Top 350 of All Time, via

  • THIS Is The Remake

    • Bruce Reber
    • 8/12/11

    The previous reviewer is incorrect - "The Children's Hour" (1961) is the remake of "These Three" (1936), not the other way around. In "These Three" strict PCA standards prohibited any depiction or mention of a lesbian love affair, and instead a love triangle between the two teachers and the doctor is shown. By 1961 the PCA standards had eased to the point that the subject of lesbian love could be somewhat (but still not fully) presented on screen in "The Children's Hour". William Wyler directed both versions, with Miriam Hopkins playing the role of teacher Martha Dobie in "These Three" that Shirley MacLaine played in "The Children's Hour", with Hopkins also starring playing the role of Martha's aunt Lily Mortar. "These Three" is the original, "The Children's Hour" is the remake. Know the difference classic film fans.

  • Excellent

    • Frances Todd
    • 3/7/11

    I fell in love with this movie when I was just a young child. I've always felt and been told I have an old spirit. I love all the old movies. They just don't make them like they used to. This movie was excellent, the characters and even the children at the time was way ahead of themselves. I appreciate the excellent acting and even though this movie was way ahead of my time and it's own, anyone who knows movies will have to honestly admit this was an incredible movie and all the actors/actresses were incredible for the genre of this movie. I used to wish that I had been born back at the time of the old movies. It seemed things were different. I also recall a remake called "These Three" which I have been trying to buy and hopefully TCM will show this version as well if it is still available.

  • A Lesbian Love Story Ahead of It's Time.

    • Frank Harris Horn
    • 7/30/10

    Oscar-winning director, William Wyler brings Lillian Hellman's (who co-wrote the adapted screenplay with John Michael Hayes) celebrated play to the silver screen surrounding the concept of lesbianism, a controversial subject that was never discussed openly in public back in the 1960s. Academy Award winners, Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine are the main characters as they play the headmistresses of an all girls' school, whose lives are being shattered by a sadistic little girl's (Karen Balkin) equally sadistic lie about her teachers' sexual relationship, which leads to slander with tragic consequences. A rather moody, highly-emotional drama ahead of it's time, yet more explicit in it's various themes. Both Hepburn and MacLaine give controversial performances of two women being victimized by a sadistic little bitch! Also starring James Garner, Miriam Hopkins, Fay Bainter, Veronica Cartwright, William Mims, Sallie Brophy, Diane Mountford, Mimi Gibson & Hope Summers.

  • Wyler, Hepburn, MacLaine, Hopkins, Garner Excel

    • David Atkins
    • 7/23/10

    William Wyler has to be on everybody's list of to 10 Directors:Wuthering Heights, Jezebel, The Heiress, The Letter, Best Years of Our Lives, Ben Hur, Funny Girl, Mrs. Miniver, et al. An astounding body of work.William Wyler remade his 30's hit 'These Three' starred Miriam Hopkins- Merle Oberon- Joel McCrea with the emphasis now on the lesbian theme. Very daring for 1962! Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine play teachers accused of a lesbian attraction by a nasty student. Great black and white photography and set dressings, all the hallmark of a Wyler film. Masterful. The denouement is MacLaine's character was Lesbian...and the ending leaves us wondering...about Hepburn's KarenSplendid support by Miriam Hopkins, Fay Bainter, and Jim Garneras Audrey Hepburn's boyfriend.


    • 7/12/10

    Isn't it amazing that almost 50 years later, a film of this calibersurpasses anything produced today? Without computer generated assists and depending purely on good plot, acting and scenery this movie is far and above anything I have seen recently. Television and Theater has truly become the vast wasteland that we now have available to us. Sadly, only the movies made before 1980 are worth watching. Is anyone out there listening? Give us more of this kind of movie, and more of good TV instead of the Reality garbage and families like the awful Kardashians and the Gosslin's.

  • Reworking

    • Ncydious
    • 6/6/09

    The story in "These Three" (1936) is the same but with a man, Joel McCrea, in the scandal "angle." Both movies are very good; I prefer "These Three" though as I don't care for either McLaine or Hepburn. In both movies, the actresses that play Mary are equally amazing in their role.

  • Who says words can't hurt you?

    • Dean
    • 4/25/09

    Top notch acting throughout with a excellent realistic story thats so true to life and shows how a accusation or rumour can do irreversible and irreparable damage to a life or lives.Very powerful movie that gets better and better the whole way through.

  • The Children's Hour, Good Movie For It's Time

    • Jet
    • 2/1/09

    This movie was made when the subject of homosexuality, if talked about at all was done in a whisper. The main actresses are superb, they are both known for playing ground breaking roles.Unfortunately this movies ending is still something that happens all too frequently even in our 21st Century to gays and people who find themselves attracted to their own sex. God created human beings the way they are, to be ostracized and shut out of a family just because of sexual orientation is shameful and should not happen. Please don't do it to anyone in your family.

  • Ahead of Its Time!

    • Laura J
    • 1/18/09

    This movie was wonderful and so before its time for the subject. The cast was superb from the main stars down to the child actors. A must see. To see how THAT topic was such taboo back then and how hard it must have been if one did actually harbor such thoughts. How far we have come. Dont miss it!

  • i was suprised.

    • rick
    • 1/16/09

    this was good, very good. they both played their roles very well. the suprising thing is how much james garner was involved in film before the rockford files. ive seen him in quite a few films lately and he is an excellent actor and equally so in this movie. for 1961 i was suprised there wasnt great public uproar amongst the conservative groups, and to find this was released in an earlier version as a play many years before as these three 1936. my jaw dropped near the end ( i'm sure you can guess at which point ), i never saw it coming, the making of a good movie and good plot.

  • A sign of the times (1962)...

    • kimpunkrock
    • 6/28/06

    Watching this film blew me away...Gay Pride had just happened in seattle so this film played at a perfect time for some reflection on how the times have changed for gays and lesbeins..this film when it came out must have been controversial and for it's two leading ladies to make this film was a courageous thing. I can't imagine how hard it must have been to be gay back in those days and this film is a testament to this fact. This film is a gem that needs to be seen by alot more people. I especially enjoyed shirly mclaine's marvelous performance. Two thumbs up! Attention all lgbt's watch this movie. Thanks TCM for all the movies you show.

  • what is not seen is best rumored

    • mark tang
    • 3/27/06

    i usually prefer watching modernday filmmaking, but this is an exception. as a play adaptation, this is one of the best movies i have ever seen. i feel the director and screenwriter gave so much respect to the playwright. i believe the director and writers brought out the fine performances of Audrey Hepburn, Shirley Maclaine, James Garner and each supporting player. The conflictwas drawn between characters clearly, and the actors felt genuine. i thoroughly enjoyed watching this story evolve from beginning to end; altho, i would have ended the movie on a quieter, reflective musical note.

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