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These Three

These Three(1936)

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In Lillian Hellman's original play, and in all written material on the film, the character of the young doctor is "Joseph Cardin." In the film itself, however, the character played by Joel McCrea is called "Bill Cardin" in scenes at the beginning of the film. No explanation, other than continuity error, has been found for this change. This film was the first of eight pictures that William Wyler directed for Samuel Goldwyn during the 1930s and 1940s. Hellman's play was partially inspired by an actual case in Scotland in 1810 which resulted in a ten-year libel suit brought by the teachers involved. On screen credit does not mention the play on which the film was based. According to contemporary news items and information contained in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the play was not to be mentioned on screen or in any publicity materials prepared for the film by agreement among Hellman, Goldwyn, and the Hays Office. An inter office memo to Will H. Hays, dated January 6, 1935, notes that a news item had been broadcast on radio station WMCA that Dorothy and Lillian Gish were reportedly going to Hollywood to appear in a film version of The Children's Hour. The memo indicates that Joseph I. Breen, director of studio relations for the Hays Office in Hollywood, did not know of such a project and "in fact it is his understanding that they are all skeptical about its picture possibilities." No other information about a film version of the play to star the Gish sisters has been located, and it is possible that the radio item was supposition.
       Hellman's play, which modern sources state was purchased for $50,000, follows the same basic story as the film, but the gossip that is spread about the teachers in the play concerns their lesbian relationship rather than an implied mnage a trois. Because the Production Code would not even allow even an accusation of lesbianism on screen, the title and central issue was altered. A news item in Hollywood Reporter on August 17, 1935 noted that when the play was purchased the main characters would have to be changed from two women to a man and a woman, however, the two women characters remained in the final version of the story. Once the final version of the screenplay was submitted to the Hays Office, very little was deemed problematic. requested that the word "damn" be deleted from one of Karen's speeches; it was not in the completed film. Subsequent to the film's preview for the Hays Office, Goldwyn was informed that "These Three has turned out to be an outstanding picture. The questionable elements in the original stage play have been entirely eliminated." The picture was issued a Purity Seal and was approved without eliminations in most states and foreign territories. According to Hellman's autobiographical works, she was happy with the film and felt that the malicious result of false accusation and gossip was the central issue of the story rather than the nature of the gossip.
       Portions of the film were shot on location at UCLA and in Franklyn Canyon, both in Los Angeles, according to news items. A news item also notes that Helen Laughlin, who acted as a technical advisor on the film was the Dean of Women at UCLA. Modern sources include Frank McGlynn, Anya Taranda, and Jerry Larkin as additional cast members. Barbara Stanwyck and Errol Flynn performed on a Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the story on December 6, 1937. A remake of the film, also directed by William Wyler, was made in 1962 under the title The Children's Hour, and starred Shirley MacLaine, Audrey Hepburn, and James Garner. Miriam Hopkins played the part of the aunt in that production, which retained the accusation of lesbianism theme from the play, although the word was never actually used.