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This first film version of "The Children's Hour" uses a heterosexual triangle rather than the play's lesbian theme. The plot concerns schoolteachers Karen Wright and Martha Dobie, both of whom are in love with Dr. Joe Cardin. The malicious lie of one of their students involves all three in a scandal which disrupts all their lives. Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <email@example.com>
Three innocent people have their lives shattered by malicious gossip.
THESE THREE is a vividly acted, excruciatingly dramatic look at how unrequited love & evil lies can undermine relationships and destroy reputations. Lillian Hellman authored the script (and altered the emotional bias) from her original play, The Children's Hour and director William Wyler created a film which never lets up in its emotional intensity. The viewer feels terribly for the three protagonists as they suffer unjustly and equally powerless to do anything about it.
Teachers Miriam Hopkins & Merle Oberon both love doctor Joel McCrea. One will win him, the other will hurt quietly. All three act at a perfect pitch, each performer complementing and supporting the other two, most especially when their characters experience the devastation created by a wicked student (played with chilling persuasion by Bonita Granville).
Two fine character actresses now in danger of being forgotten have important supporting roles. Catherine Doucet plays Hopkins' silly, vindictive aunt, a vain woman completely capable of doing the wrong thing every time. Alma Kruger plays Granville's wealthy grandmother, proud & patrician, she is seduced into doing much harm through her unwise love.
In a small role, Walter Brennan is a joy as a rustic taxi driver. Marcia Mae Jones is quite compelling as a child struggling against enormous iniquity. Marvelous Margaret Hamilton, as Kruger's no-nonsense hatchet-faced housekeeper, gets to deliver one of cinema's most satisfying face slaps.
Movie mavens will recognize an uncredited Greta Meyer as a Viennese waitress.
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