The Children's Hour (1961)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama  |  19 December 1961 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 9,778 users  
Reviews: 107 user | 39 critic

A troublemaking student at a girls' school accuses two teachers of being lesbians.



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Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 1 win & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Fay Bainter ...
Karen Balkin ...
Mimi Gibson ...
Debbie Moldow
Diane Mountford
William Mims ...
Mr. Burton
Sally Brophy ...
Rosalie's Mother (as Sallie Brophy)


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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Because of the adult nature of its theme - this motion picture is not recommended for children. See more »




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

19 December 1961 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Infamous!  »

Box Office


$3,600,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The original stage-play was partly inspired by an actual case in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1810. A pupil named Jane Cumming falsely accused her schoolmistresses, Jane Pirie and Marianne Woods, of having an affair. Dame Cumming Gordon, the accuser's influential grandmother, advised her friends to remove their daughters from the boarding school. Within days the school was deserted and the two women had lost their livelihood. Pirie and Woods sued and eventually won, both in court and on appeal, but given the damage done to their lives, their victory was considered hollow. See more »


At 25:41 the books the girl on the left is holding changes. See more »


Mrs. Lily Mortar: [about Mary] Oh, what happened? Did she fall?
Karen: No, I was disciplining her.
Mrs. Lily Mortar: And you finally hit her?
See more »


Referenced in St. Elsewhere: The Children's Hour (1984) See more »


Loch Lomond
Traditional Scots-Gaelic song first published in 1841
Included in piano medley
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User Reviews

A child's lie destroys lives, a parable for the present
7 March 1999 | by (Alabama) – See all my reviews

In this remarkable film, a child's malicious lie destroys the lives of two young teachers. The child lies to avoid school because "everyone there hates me." The lie is believed because it is compounded by idle ramblings. Then it is upheld by a girl who is lying only to protect herself. This piece plays remarkably well today as it shows that children do lie even when they don't really know what they are talking about. Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine are remarkable in this work as they show the emotional upheaval that a simple lie can cause.

36 of 42 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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