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 ... See full summary »
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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I saw (the movie of) "The Children's Hour," and had also read the play long before seeing "These Three." So I approached this film, when I was finally able to see it, with trepidation. After all, I knew that Lillian Hellman's Broadway smash (which centers on an allegation of lesbianism) had been altered and softened for more middle-American audiences.
Imagine my happy surprise to discover that the central conflict, the poison of a child's vindictive lie, remained compelling and believable even though the allegation was now pre-marital adultery instead of lesbian. When the play was filmed intact, again by William Wyler, the new movie had less to answer for to the original play than it did to this stunning early version.
See the two movies side by side, and you'll see how prudery and fear of censorship can produce a work that triumphs over the bluenoses.
I feel that "These Three" is in many ways the superior film. It is not as dark as "The Children," and only at the end does the lighter mood become suspect. It is also a more energetic film and feels less like a filmed stage play then "The Children's Hour" which treads the boards more theatrically, more obviously more stagily, and more talkily than it could every have been on stage.
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