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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>
Lillian Hellman was satisfied with changes she had to make in the play for the film, since she felt the central issue of the play was the malicious result of the gossip rather than the gossip itself. See more »
Before Mrs. Tilford's maid slaps Mary (Bonita Granville) in one of the final scenes of the film, she grabs the girl and says, "Bonita, come here." See more »
Yours, your very own. To live with the rest of your life. There won't be a move she makes or a thing she says that won't frighten you.
Mrs. Amelia Tilford:
Yes. And that will be my punishment.
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Cruel and Heartbreaking Story about the Destructive Power of a Lie
Karen Wright (Merle Oberon) and Martha Dobie (Miriam Hopkins) are best friends since college. When they graduate, they decide to move to Lancet to the farm that Karen has inherited from her grandmother to build a boarding school for girls. On the arrival, they meet Dr. Joseph Cardin (Joel McCrea) and he helps them to restore the farmhouse working hard. One day Karen meets the influent Mrs. Amelia Tilford (Alma Kruger) that helps them to get students including her spoiled granddaughter Mary Tilford (Bonita Granville). Out of the blue, Martha's arrogant aunt Lily Mortar (Catharine Doucet) arrives at the school and offers to give classes. Meanwhile Joseph proposes Karen and they are engaged to each other.
When the spiteful and compulsive liar Mary, who is a bad influence to the other girls, is punished by Karen after telling a lie, Martha has an argument with her snoopy aunt Lily in another room. Lily accuses Martha of being in love with Joseph and having encountered him in her room. Mary's roommate Rosalie Wells (Marcia Mae Jones) overhears the argument and tells Mary what Mrs. Mortar had said about her niece. The malicious Mary accuses Martha of being the lover of Joseph to her grandmother and Amelia spreads the gossip to the parents of the students that withdraw them from the school. Karen and Martha lose a lawsuit against Amelia and have their lives disrupted with the scandal. Further, Karen calls off her engagement with Joe since she is not sure that he is telling the truth.
"These Three" is a cruel and heartbreaking story that shows how destructive the power of a lie may be. William Wyler is among my favorite directors and this film is a little gem with a magnificent screenplay. In 1961, he remade this movie changing the title to "The Children's Hour" and using the theme of lesbianism instead of a triangle of love, and a tragic ending. Both movies are worthwhile watching and it is hard to pointy out which version is the better. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "Infâmia 1936" ("Infamy 1936")
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