Director Billy Wilder salutes his idol, Ernst Lubitsch, with this comedy about a middle-aged playboy fascinated by the daughter of a private detective who has been hired to entrap him with the wife of a client.
Karen Wright and Martha Dobie are best friends since college and they own the boarding school Wright and Dobie School for Girls with twenty students. They are working hard as headmistresses and teachers to grow the school and make it profitable. Karen is engaged with the local doctor Joe Cardin, who is the nephew of the powerful and influent Mrs. Amelia Tilford. While the spiteful and liar Mary, who is Amelia's granddaughter and a bad influence to the other girls, is punished by Karen after telling a lie, Martha has an argument with her snoopy aunt Lily Mortar in another room. Lily accuses Martha of being jealous and having an unnatural relationship with Karen. Mary's roommate Rosalie Wells overhears the shouting and tells Mary what Mrs. Mortar had said about her niece. The malicious Mary accuses Karen and Martha of being lesbians 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 ... Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
William Wyler cut several scenes hinting at Martha's homosexuality for fear of not receiving the seal of approval from the Motion Picture Production Code. At the time, any story about homosexuality was forbidden by the production code. See more »
When Mary is confronted by her grandmother, Mary's arm positions jump from outstretched, limp at her side, and clutching the staircase. She also moves up and down the staircase suddenly. See more »
Mrs. Amelia Tilford:
I don't believe this talk of jealousy between Miss Dobie and Miss Wright.
But I didn't say she was jealous of Miss Wright. I said that Mrs. Mortar said that Miss Dobie was jealous of cousin Joe.
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I've seen the Hays Code version of the 30s movie with Miriam Hopkins and Merle Oberon... and now the 1961 version ... I'm glad Wyler had a chance to bring out more of the theme. I've read some comments.... this is not at all dated if one knows the perils gay people have to teach.... and remember this was also a boarding school..... with the society moving toward anti-gay bashing again.... the reaction of a potential gay teacher at a school WOULD indeed raise eyebrows. For some reason society looks on gays as the sicko perverts that kill these poor little ones that are kidnapped out here ( oddly look at some recently...there are pedophiles... but not gay). Anyway the film is acted incredibly well. Shirley MacLaine gives a tour-de-force dramatic acting job in the film. I've rarely ever seen anything Hepburn was in that isn't interesting and leaves one with a curious scratching of the head to figure out the individual at the end ... her scene walking away at the end sparks a curiosity...might she have repressed a love beyond girl-hood friendship for MacLaine in the film. Fay Bainter, to me, though produces one of the best supporting roles in a movie to date. She was totally believable as the homophobic rich grandmother.... not unlike so many in society today ...... unless you are gay people... you have no idea of the Society disapproval and she is so right on. Miriam Hopkins captures the aunt in a far more tawdry, sleazy way than the original actress in the 30s version. Unfortunately if this movie is ever made again.... in my age, it will still be sanitized for Hollywood and ironically the 1961 version will probably be the truest to the original story. Garner is very innocent in his role as the love interest and very believable. The little grandchild reminds me of the girl -- in the Bad Seed...... if the 2 of them matched wits ... they'd be on Wide World of Wrestling -- Evil Children's star edition." This movie is excellent cinema, an actors' movie. A true classic.
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