These Three (1936) Poster

(1936)

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10/10
Love & Lies
Ron Oliver16 August 2003
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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I cannot tell a lie--brilliant!!
Doylenf11 January 2003
This version of Lillian Hellman's play "The Children's Hour" is by far more satisfying than the Audrey Hepburn-Shirley MacLaine remake in the 1960s which retained the lesbianism theme while revolving around a child's lie.

Instead, this earlier William Wyler version changes the slanderous lie to a heterosexual one--and none of the power is lost in the telling of a tale about a manipulative young girl's lie that destroys the lives of three innocent people.

The acting is all on an extraordinarily high level here--everyone, from Merle Oberon to Miriam Hopkins to Joel McCrea and especially little Bonita Granville (as a liar who even stoops to blackmail to keep her lie afloat). As the terrorized girl, Marcia Mae Jones is every bit as adept as the others in making the entire story a convincing one.

The power of a lie to destroy others has never been more effectively played out than it is here. Under William Wyler's direction, the screenplay has been expanded with enough outdoor scenes to keep the film from seeming like a filmed stage play.

Joel McCrea has never been more effective in a sympathetic role. He and Merle Oberon are impressive and wholly believable as the young lovers. Miriam Hopkins has a difficult role and she handles it brilliantly. Bonita Granville fully deserved her Oscar nomination as the monstrous girl, sparing nothing to make her one of the most hateful brats in screen history.

Well worth watching for some brilliant performances and a compelling story.
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8/10
Powerful, beautifully acted film
blanche-224 August 2005
"These Three" is an absorbing film that somehow manages to retain its integrity despite being different from the play, "The Children's Hour," on which it is based. Having seen the later film, "The Children's Hour," about two teachers accused of lesbianism, I wondered how the 1936 film would measure up. The answer: Brilliantly.

Part of the reason for this is, as Lilliam Hellman, the playwright herself stated - the play isn't really about lesbianism, it's about a children's lie. And the vicious, destructive lie of a child is still central here, though now it concerns the supposed affair of Miriam Hopkins and Joel McCrea, who is engaged to marry Merle Oberon, Hopkins' partner in a girls school. Another reason for the film's success is the flawless direction by William Wyler, and last but not least, a sympathetic trio. Hopkins is a standout with her strong, passionate performance.

Bonita Granville, the bad seed, is such an evil, blackmailing brat, that I'm sure when 1936 audiences saw Margaret Hamilton slap her, they broke into applause. I nearly did, and I was watching it alone! It's an unrelenting performance, though she's such a walking horror show, it's remarkable anyone believed her in her "earnest" moments, which were calculated, as only a monster's can be! Highly recommended.
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10/10
A chilling look at what a lie can do
Southpaw-912 August 1999
"These Three" is an extremely effective look at the damage a lie can cause. Bonita Granville gives a tour-de-force performance as Mary Tilford, a vicious student who ruins the lives of her two schoolteachers (Merle Oberon and Miriam Hopkins) by telling a lie about their private lives. Based on a play by Lillian Hellman (whose original plot dealt with lesbianism, which was changed for the film version to get past the censors), "These Three" is still a very good film. Miriam Hopkins also stands out as one of the victimized teachers. All in all, one well-acted and well-directed drama.
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A Scottish Source
theowinthrop16 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
In 1931 the noted Scots Criminologist, William Roughead, published a volume of his great essays on famous crimes entitled BAD COMPANIONS. One of the essays was called "The Great Drumshleugh Case". Set in Edinburgh in 1811 it told the story of two women running a school for society girls in the Scots capital, and how a malicious little girl spread a rumor that ruined them and the school. The little brat told everyone that the two women were secret lovers. The book was read by Lillian Hellman, who took the story and fashioned the story of her play, THE CHILDREN'S HOUR from it, only changing it to America and putting a man (a doctor) into the picture as the third part of the "triangle" in the child's lie.

There have been two film versions of the story: this 1936 version (with Merle Oberon, Miriam Hopkins, and Joel McCrae) where the two women are made into heterosexuals, and a 1962 version (with Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine, and James Garner) where MacLaine admits that she did love Hepburn but commits suicide. The later version is closer to the Hellman play. In the play there is no "comeuppence scene", where the little brat gets hers. However, the scene where Margaret Hamilton slaps Bonita Granville is justifiably among the most satisfying "comeuppence scenes" in Hollywood film (ranking up there with George Sanders tearing into the lies of Anne Baxter in ALL ABOUT EVE). Indeed, the slap Ms Hamilton administers to Ms Granville makes up for anything the wicked Witch of the West tried to do to Dorothy Gail in THE WIZARD OF OZ.

Although Mr. Roughead's essay is a good place to start one's study into the background of the incident (which, in 1811 was a possibly deadly one to be involved in - that same year, in England, two male homosexuals were executed for sodomy), a full length study was published in 1983 - SCOTCH VERDICT by Lillian Faderman. Ms Faderman does not excuse the young girl from her malicious attack, but she does produce some evidence that the two ladies may have been having an affair, and she shows that the young girl herself would end up being victimized by the publicity. The girl, Jane Cumming, was an illegitimate granddaughter to Lady Cumming Gordon, and her birth did not endear her to the grandmother or her family. Despised for that reason her attitude of defiance and dislike (leading to lashing out against her teachers) is partly understandable. But Jane Pirrie, one of the two teachers, brought a series of expensive legal actions against the grandmother, which ended in displaying ALL the dirty linen (including Jane Cumming's birth). As a result, when Lady Cumming Gordon finished paying the expenses (she lost the final case) Jane was even more disliked than before, and banished from contact with the family. Not a happy result at all.
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9/10
Powerful Version of the Hellman Play.
nycritic23 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The power of a girl's lie is at the heart of the story involving two school teachers and one man.

Lillian Hellman's THE CHILDREN'S HOUR was a play about lesbianism, reportedly based on an occurrence in a Scotland school in the 1800s in which two teachers were the focus of a rumor in which they were involved in a too-close-for-comfort affair, a scandal for the times. The fact that William Wyler in 1936 decided -- because of the Code's policies of the time -- to drop the lesbianism and instead opt for emphasizing the issue of gossip (regardless of what kind of gossip) as per one of the more malicious girls only emphasizes the themes of the movie version. And the fact that Oscar nominated Bonita Granville plays her sheer nastiness with so much relish only makes it the more disturbing when she resorts to blackmail to force Marcia Mae Jones (equally brilliant) to keep up with her lie, because even in the face of truth she will not let up, until of course she is humiliated by Agatha (played by the future Wicked Witch of the West, Margaret Hamilton) and will have to face the consequences of her actions.

A great story that only vaguely hints at lesbian overtones, THESE THREE is very moving and for once Miriam Hopkins plays a truly likable character, as she was mainly known for having a rather icy presence. Her character thankfully does not kill herself as the play would have it, and her final scene as she walks out in triumph makes for a strong exit in the face of slander. Merle Oberon and Joel McCrea both acquit themselves in their roles though would be more known for future films, and overall, an intense movie-viewing experience.
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8/10
Cruel and Heartbreaking Story about the Destructive Power of a Lie
claudio_carvalho12 June 2014
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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10/10
Like Great Classic Films? View This Great FILM !
whpratt13 October 2003
Anyone who loves great Classic films and great veteran actors of the real silver screen, view this film and see acting at its very best. Bonita Granville (Mary Tilford)"Nancy Drew Films" made you despise and hate her horrible role as a real BRAT! Merle Oberon, "The Lodger" '45 gave a great supporting role with Joel McCrea(Dr. Joseph Cardin) "The Virginian" '46. Miriam Hopkins(Martha Dobie) "Wise Girl"'37 showed her great beauty and charm as a love sick woman. If you look real close, you will see Margaret Hamilton (Agatha) "Wizard of Oz"'39 as a wise old housemaid who gets after the Brat (Mary Tilford). Last but not least, you can catch Walter Brennan(Taxi Drive)"Sea of Lost Ships"'54, driving a bomb of a cab in the very beginning of this great film classic. Enjoy this great FILM.
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7/10
reworked Children's Hour
SnoopyStyle17 August 2018
Best friends Karen Wright and Martha Dobie graduates from college. They decide to turn Karen's late grandmother's farm into a girls' boarding school. They are shocked to find the rundown farmhouse and they work to fix it up. Karen is dating amiable local doctor Joe Cardin although Martha does have a crush on him. Martha is confronted by her flighty aunt about her crush and one night with Joe in her room. After Karen punishes troublesome student Mary Tilford, she brings it all to a boil after running back to her grandma and spreading some ugly gossip.

Lillian Hellman reworks her 1934 play The Children's Hour into something just as juicy. The lesbian rumor could never be brought to the big screen at the time. While it's not quite the same, it still packs a punch in this emotional drama. Mary's cruelty is as devastating as ever. The last act gets reworked and it struggles to find the happy ending. There are a few stumbles in that last act as it rushes to wrap up. It should have ended with the three leaving the home behind without getting their vindication. That would have been a solid eight.
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9/10
Here's the secret
fussyfreddy21 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
(Semi-spoiler below)

There is one reason why this "sham" is better than the more literal 1962 remake of "The Children's Hour": Lillian Hellman. At least producer Sam Goldwyn had the taste and foresight to hire her to bowdlerize her own story!

Perhaps sensing a potential disaster, Hellman reached deep inside for a do-over that would preserve the integrity of her play.

She succeeded in part by playing up the romantic tension to the hilt against the morals of the day. Although "These Three" is as heterosexual as it gets, its details are quite sordid according to its dated upper-middle-class standards.

The adult performances are fine; Miriam Hopkins is indeed the best, but director William Wyler even makes a solid performance of Merle Oberon's haughty reserve. Here, it only reinforces the taboo proceedings.

Hellman really shines in her reconception of the evil child, one of the most disturbing, if infrequent characters in the history of storytelling. She does so more unflinchingly than Hollywood would again attempt until the (inferior) "The Bad Seed" (1956).

Hellman makes the bargain foolproof by way of a unique pathology: the worse things get for Bonita Granville's character, the smoother and more damaging are her lies. This is her unforgettable talent.

"These Three" is not quite a great movie; it's an excellent filming of a stage play. Still, as played by Bonita Granville, Hellman presents one of the most brilliant characters I've ever seen on the silver screen. Can you imagine how much better so many movies would have been with such simple yet ingenious insurance against plot holes?

Of course, extraordinary directing and acting are needed to make such a gambit pay off. Wyler and young Bonita deliver, as others have stated.
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10/10
Spellbinding performances and timeless situations.
sultana-124 May 2001
Bonita Granville, in a remarkable performance, spreads vicious gossip and malicious rumors while never losing the affect of childhood innocence. Hopkins is 100% believable as the defiant teacher on the spot and Oberon complements her lead with a rather understated performance. Alma Kruger is wonderful as Granville's mother. In an amusing irony, the teachers finally find peace and self-respect in 1936 Germany !!! Nevertheless, this is an excellent film all around.
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8/10
So Much Better Than "The Children's Hour"
glmoritz4 August 2005
I have seen "The Children's Hour" with Shirley MacLaine, Audrey Hepburn and James Garner a couple of times, and I realize that it is truer to the original play and had a definite shock value in 1961. But "These Three" is far more engaging. Miriam Hopkins (generally not one of my favorites), Merle Oberon and McCrae are far more appealing and the performances of Bonita Granville and Marcia Mae Jones are among the best child performances I've ever seen. Granville, who was also good as Bette Davis' thoughtless niece in "Now, Voyager" a few years later, makes a better young villainess than Patricia McCormack in "The Bad Seed."
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6/10
A Different 30's Film
dhansen2k20 September 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I knew nothing about this movie until it came on at 5:00 am the other morning. I had no idea that it was a William Wyler film. It seemed a little slow in starting and usually if I'm not intrigued in the first 30 minutes, I'll change the channel. But then I became intrigued. Things started happening and all the charters seemed to jell. The screaming and yelling of the children was like chalk on a blackboard at first. Then I understood the brilliance of it, you were supposed to react that way (as we do in real life.) No one likes to hear a child cry. But they do, and that's one of the things that makes this film real. Great acting by the two main child actors (Bonita Granville as the loathed Mary Tilford and Marcia Mae Jones with a breathtaking role as the troubled Rosalie Wells.) ***Possible Spoiler*** It wasn't until bratty Mary was slapped by Mrs. Tilford's maid, (in a small roll, who would soon become an icon as the "Wicked Witch of the West") the fabulous Margaret Hamilton. At that moment I knew I had indeed seen this film as a child, and remember people cheering that slap. Quite a powerful moment that must have made an impression on me. If you're a William Wyler fan, this is a film you should see.
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6/10
Best Child Acting in Film, Hands Down
oceanchick21 August 2009
This comment may contain general spoilers.

I swear this has to be the BEST child acting i've ever seen in a classic film in years, and i watch so many classics it's ridiculous. Sure, Mickey Rooney was a capable actor but sometimes I feel he IS acting. With the children in These Three, I was dumbstruck. William Wyler had his hands full w/ child actors in this film and Kudos w/ a capital K to Bill for pulling the best out of everyone.

Bonita Granville as Mary Tilford does a mind-blowing job grasping a tremendously dramatic role and she did it so believably and without force that her blackmailing threat to Rosalie and the confrontation scene w/ grandmother, and bulk of cast, I got goosebumps. She carried the part very much like Bette Davis in Of Human Bondage in her famous "wipe my mouth" scene. She did the scene so delicately, so conniving, with such convincing facial expressions and tonal inflections that I was spellbound. Marcia Jones as Rosalie was quite good herself to the point it makes me wonder what the poor girl was threatened with before the scene was shot.

I must say, too, that it is great to see Merle Oberon using her face in a way that doesn't make her look demented such as in Wuthering Heights. It was great to see her more natural, less possessed looking w/ her eyes. In this movie, she definitely was reeled in quite a bit and i credit Wyler for that. Miriam Hopkins was as beautiful, soulful and sad as ever.

Overall, I believe the child actor Bonita Granville stole the entire film, but I could feel Marcia's fear of her secret being discovered and punishment to ensue. I could feel Miriam's longing and Merle's calm sense of decency. As I said before, William Wyler managed to get performances that were spot on for the film, keeping the tone, believability and atmosphere as convincing as films of the 30s could be.

The cinematography was done very well, and Gregg Toland, who had his life cut short at 44, was very much a master of lighting and unique camera angles. A feeling of intimacy was established in a lot of the scenes in ways I can say I've never seen shot before. The 3 leads, standing in Ms. Tilford's living room on the day they go to find out what the issue is, standing side by side, and Toland puts the camera behind them. That little subtle angle conveyed so much emotionally that i'm surprised it wasn't mimicked over and over by every DP worldwide. He went on to DP such greats as Intermezzo, Citizen Kane, Little Foxes, and more, where his influential yet extremely subtle camera and lighting from These Three was turned on it's head, showing his extreme versatility.

This is a great film, especially for it's era. I'm a harsh critic, so I give it a 6.
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Tribute to Wyler
leslieadams3 August 2005
For a film that opened in 1936, "These Three" manages to hold the attention seventy years later.

True, Lillian Helmann's heterosexual adaptation may seem a bit over-baked now; still, there are some compelling scenes which are touching.

Working with a top-notch cast and crew, Director William Wyler managed to coax some pretty heartfelt performances from his ensemble.

The whole thing looks like it may have been an extremely difficult shoot, especially for its principals. Word has it that Miriam Hopkins was very difficult to work with, and that Merle Oberon's normally meager talent was stretched beyond its capacity by the demanding director.

Yet, through probably endless retakes, the final result from the editing room is impressive. The child actors are quite good, without which the drama's effectiveness would have been considerably lessened. All the adult performers are strong, rendering commendable work.

Judging from the viewer's and critic's evaluation on IMDb, "These Three" is still very much appreciated.
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Sex, Lies and Childhood (*Slight Plot Spoilers*)
Hal-8311 September 2001
Warning: Spoilers
This adaptation of Hellman's play Children's Hour, is even more censored than the Hepburn/ Maclaine/ Garner starrer with changed plot points (changing the homosexual attraction to a regular straight crush as well as the ending) but both and the quality of the acting and the film itself, which is well paced, energetic and not stagy, is massively better than the newer version.

Two young women straight out of university fix up a house inherited by one of them to start up a girl's prep school. The pert and deadly dull Merle Oberon hooks up with local hunk surgeon and beekeeper played by Joel McCrea, whilst an excellent Miriam Hopkins observes with simmering heterosexual jealousy. An argument with her aunt regarding her attraction to McCrea is misinterpreted by resident conniving brat (spectacularly performed with enthusiastically malicious fervour by Bonita Granville). Hopkins is falsely accused by the scheming student of soliciting pre-marital adultery by means of a noisy, illicit romp on school grounds with her best friend's fiancée, and the future of their school in placed in jeopardy.
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9/10
Despite the changes to Miss Hellman's play, the movie is grand!
MartinHafer25 March 2007
In Lillian Hellman's original play, THE CHILDREN'S HOUR, the scandal involved lesbianism--certainly NOT a topic they were allowed to address in Hollywood in the strengthened Production Code era. Starting around 1935, Hollywood bowed to pressure to clean up the movies and feature more wholesome images. While today some see this as a totally negative thing, you must understand that nudity, violence, crudeness and very adult topics were frequently used in films and there was no rating system. So, kids might go to the theaters and see rather graphic nude swimming scenes (TARZAN AND HIS MATE and BIRD OF PARADISE are good examples) or Frank McHugh giving someone "the finger" (PARATROOPER). As a result, SOME sort of system needed to be created, though I will admit some of the resulting products from Hollywood were a bit bland. In regard to THE CHILDREN'S HOUR, there was no way the studios would be allowed to discuss homosexuality during this era, so they changed the allegations to promiscuity between a man and a woman. This did NOT appreciably alter the play nor its impact and reportedly Miss Hellman was happy with the film despite this minor change--minor in that it resulted in only minor alterations to the script and kept the overall message intact.

The resulting film, THESE THREE, was produced by David O. Selznick, directed by William Wyler and starred Miriam Hopkins, Merle Oberon and Joel McCrea. With this terrific combination of talents and the Hellman script, it certainly isn't much of a surprise that the film was excellent throughout--and one of the better pictures of the 1930s. About the only negative at all about the play was the performance of young Bonita Granville. While generally very good (earning her an Oscar nomination), it was at times also a tad over-the-top--and she acted so histrionic that you wonder what sane person would believe all of her lies!!! If this had been toned down just a bit (making her a little more subtle), the film would have earned a 10. As it is, it's still a terrific film with an original and wonderful script.
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5/10
Disappointing
daviddax19 August 2018
Warning: Spoilers
The girls' performances were so over the top that they were just annoying and hardly believable. And Merle Oberon's character, as well as Audrey Hepburn's in the later version lacked the strength and the ability to trust their male partners. On the other hand, Miriam Hopkins was terrific in this one.
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9/10
Hellman's brilliance as a writer shines through ...
bethelagcy27 September 2006
Everyone told Sam Goldwyn that he had to be crazy to buy the film rights to this one. At the time (1930s), the lesbian theme of the play would have made a film version impossible to release. But, Goldwyn and Lillian Hellman came up with a version that kept intact the other central theme (the vicious lie told by Mary Tilford, the young girl played by Bonita Granville and the resulting damage to "These Three" lives). Of interest to trivia buffs is the fact that Miriam Hopkins (known by many as a "difficult" actress in her Hollywood years), who played Martha in this version, was brought back to play Martha's aunt (Lily Mortar) in the later (1960s) William Wyler version, which reverted to the original title of THE CHILDREN'S HOUR, and starred Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine. That version also was graced by the brilliant performance of Fay Bainter, who played Mary Tilford's grandmother. Watch her especially closely as she exits, after making her (rejected)apology and offer of restitution. Want a real treat? Read Hellman's script for the Broadway play ... and then watch both film versions, in either order.
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7/10
Liar, liar - lives on fire!
CinemaSerf27 July 2020
Rarely, if ever, do I rate the child as the star of a film, but Bonita Granville is very, very good as the odious, obnoxious, hateful, spiteful, spoiled "Mary" in this story of two teachers - Merle Oberon and Miriam Hopkins - who fall for the doctor - Joel McCrea. When these old friends try to discipline the ghastly child for persistent lateness, she flees to her wealthy grandmother and concocts a story designed to destroy their careers and their happiness. It's a simple story, well told, that conveys clearly the perils of telling lies. The lead performances are super, and well supported by Catherine Doucet; Alma Kruger as the doting grandmother and "Miss Gulch" herself - Margaret Hamilton - as the maid who sees through the child right from the outset. There are some fairly hefty alterations to Lillian Hellman's original play; the relationship between the women is entirely platonic in the film which was not the case on stage, but that's no great surprise given the commercial necessities of the time and it is still well worth a watch.
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6/10
Rumor, Ante-Internet.
rmax30482325 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This version of Lillian Hellman's play ("passed by the Board of National Review") is full of anguish, malice, self torture, heartbreak, stupidity, unrequited love, economic ruin, utter misery, and has a happy ending.

It's filled with stereotypes. There are the two young ladies, eager to establish a boarding school for girls, though they must start with virtually nothing. There is the doctor who is also handy around the house and lends them his aid. The zymic, lying brat who dominates everyone around her through falsehoods and manipulation. The bubble-headed, hystrionic auntie who lives in the school, never stops talking, and gets everyone in trouble, only to disappear when she has a chance to rectify matters. The haughty aristocrat who is the catalyst of doom.

The best role is that of the spoiled brat, Bonita Granville. Boy, is she mean. Of course she overacts, but then everyone overacts except maybe Joel McCrea as the doctor, who is his usual pleasant but earnest self throughout.

I was interested in seeing how a movie made in 1936 would handle the lesbian subtext of the play. It does so rather neatly. Instead of two dykes making out, Bonita Granville claims she peeked through a key hole and saw Miriam Hopkins getting it on with McCrea, the fiancé of Merle Oberon. Shocking enough, I suppose, at the time.

But Hellman's story is almost as manipulative and goal-oriented as Bonita Granville's brat. The stupidity runs riot throughout the script. A story that could avoid a calamity with a frank five-minute conversation, avoids the conversation instead. A remorseful old lady who begs forgiveness from the offended trio, is repulsed with a sneer and a curse. Everyone deserts everyone else for reasons that it would take second sight to discern.

Still, the story was a shocker in its time and I can enjoy seeing these formulaic elements unreeled. There's something reassuring about a vision of life that sees nothing in it but rot -- and yet ends with two lovers in a clinch while triumphant music swells in the background.
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8/10
Brilliant performance from Granville
gbill-7487727 March 2019
With Miriam Hopkins, Merle Oberon, and Joel McCrea in the leading roles, I wasn't expecting to find them all upstaged by a brilliant performance from 13-year-old Bonita Granville. I knew very little about the film going in, and that was a good thing, as the film went off in an interesting direction. The setup is that Hopkins and Oberon play a couple of friends who start up a school in rural Massachusetts after graduating from college, and McCrea is a doctor who falls for Oberon. Granville's character is one of the challenges they have; she's spoiled, manipulative, a bully, and overall troublemaker in the school. Another is Hopkins' aunt (Catherine Doucet), a featherbrained leech who imposes herself on them. I won't describe the plot further, except to say that there's just enough of an inkling of truth about a rumor that is whispered about - or in the seeds of a possible truth - that it gives the story nuance, and helps enable a deceitfulness which is as clever and realistic as it is maddening (and it is quite maddening). William Wyler exercises the right amount of restraint as director - letting the events and emotions come to us (if that makes any sense), avoiding mundane tedium such as the details of a courtroom scene, and letting a deep cast deliver fine performances, another of which is from 12-year-old Marcia Mae Jones. It really makes me want to seek out 'The Children's Hour' (1961).
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9/10
COMPROMISED BUT STILL COMPELLING...!
masonfisk26 March 2019
A hot button film from 1936 starring Merle Oberon, Miriam Hopkins & Joel McCrea. 2 recently graduated women decide to try their hand at opening an all girls school at a venue where one of the girl's owns a piece of property. When they go to inspect the house they encounter an eccentric doctor who is making repairs to it, thinking it had been long since abandoned. All three hit it off & they begin taking in student clientele but one of the problematic students, whose rich grandmother lives in town & has some sway in the town's comings & goings, starts trouble for the female duo by insinuating they're sharing their bed w/the kindly doctor which prompts the school's enrollment to evaporate after unsuccessfully suing the dowager for libel. Written by prominent playwright Lillian Hellman & one of William Wyler's first big hits, the original subject matter had to be toned down for this version (when one of the women starts courting the doctor, the other woman is jealous of him rather than her since she had an attraction for her schoolmate in the first place) which Wyler tried to rectify by refilming the movie in 1962 (now called The Children's Hour & starring Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine & James Garner) & placing the sexual politics where they belonged but being the film industry was timidly dipping a toe into the waters of homosexuality, the same sex infatuation was never realized & was looked down upon as an aberration which the character had to be punished for. That being said, the original does engage w/fine work by the actors, particularly Bonita Granville as the spirited student whose evil knows no bounds. Look for Margaret Hamilton (the Wicked Witch of the West) in an early performance.
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7/10
Ill effects of gossip
bkoganbing26 April 2015
I'm sure that Lillian Hellman when she sold the screen rights for The Children's Hour she had to know that her play about lesbianism would be totally changed by Hollywood. The Code was firmly in place now and even a subject that might be just hinted at would be forbidden now. For the three decades homosexuality could at most be discreetly hinted at.

Bearing that in mind These Three now changed to be just a heterosexual triangle with Merle Oberon, Joel McCrea, and Miriam Hopkins was a decent drama about the ill effects of gossip. And the gossiper received an Oscar nomination.

Oberon and Hopkins are teachers at a girl's school and Oberon is keeping company with Doctor Joel McCrea. But one night quite innocently McCrea is seen with Hopkins where they live by one of the girls. Bonita Granville had been chastised earlier on so now the evil little teen starts some gossip and as a result These Three have to defend themselves against something non-existent. That's usually the worst thing you ever have to defend yourself against, something totally made up.

William Wyler directed this one with sensitivity and taste. And he lived long enough to direct the real version of The Children's Hour in the Sixties. Miriam Hopkins appears in both in different roles.

Bonita Granville got an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress in the first year Supporting players were categories. But she lost to Gale Sondergaard playing a wicked adult in Anthony Adverse.

It's a good film but not as good as The Children's Hour. How could it be?
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