7.8/10
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133 user 47 critic

The Children's Hour (1961)

Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 19 December 1961 (USA)
A troublemaking student at a girls' school accuses two teachers of being lesbians.

Director:

William Wyler

Writers:

Lillian Hellman (play), John Michael Hayes (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 1 win & 6 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Audrey Hepburn ... Karen Wright
Shirley MacLaine ... Martha Dobie
James Garner ... Dr. Joe Cardin
Miriam Hopkins ... Mrs. Lily Mortar
Fay Bainter ... Mrs. Amelia Tilford
Karen Balkin Karen Balkin ... Mary Tilford
Veronica Cartwright ... Rosalie Wells
Mimi Gibson ... Evelyn
Debbie Moldow Debbie Moldow ... Student
Diane Mountford Diane Mountford ... Student
William Mims William Mims ... Mr. Burton
Sally Brophy Sally Brophy ... Rosalie's Mother (as Sallie Brophy)
Hope Summers ... Agatha - the Tilford Maid
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Storyline

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 influential 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 ... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 December 1961 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Infamous See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,600,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Audrey Hepburn's final black and white film. See more »

Goofs

Starting at 55:24, Amelia's hand is fully on the piano when looking at her, but on the edge of the piano when seen from behind. This changes three times. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Joe Cardin: We can't go on like this. Everything I say is made to mean something else!
Karen: I guess every word has a new meaning. Child, love, friend, woman. There aren't many safe words anymore. Even 'marriage' doesn't have the same meaning anymore.
Dr. Joe Cardin: It does to me, and it should to you, if
[he pauses]
Karen: If what?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Rec: Uwasa no futari (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Comin' through the Rye
(uncredited)
Traditional Scottish children's song
Lyrics from a poem by Robert Burns (1782)
Included in piano medley
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
An excellent character and social study
6 August 2005 | by The_VoidSee all my reviews

Based on a stage play by Lillian Hellman, The Children's Hour is a story about taboo, the implications of lies and the naive and selfish mentality of children. Being based on a play, the film is as melodramatic as you'd expect; but as the cast is made up of such a talented bunch of actors, the melodrama never gets in the way of the plot, or point of the film. The Children's Hour stars two of it's days biggest female stars; Audrey Hepburn and Shirley Maclaine, who play teachers, and owners, of a private girls boarding school. Their lives fall into disarray when a spiteful student accuses the two women of having a lesbian relationship. Nowadays, we've moved on a bit so the women of this film's problem wouldn't be all that great today; but when put into the context of the film's setting and the moods at the time, it gives the film a very potent social commentary. The film balances this with a character study of it's main characters, and together these two elements blend into one very good film indeed. Add a brilliant script and some fine acting performances into the mix; and you've got a film that's damn near perfect.

Despite the fact that it stars two of the biggest stars of it's day in Audrey Hepburn and Shirley Maclaine; the standout performance of the film for me comes from the young Karen Balkin, in the role of the troublesome child at the centre of the scandal. Balkin steals every scene she's in, even when on screen with the two leads, and despite the fact that her character is repulsive; I always found myself waiting for her to come back on screen. It's a shame she only made one other film after this one. The film is really well written, and we delve into the character's nightmare; we get to learn more about them as people, as well as learning about the social implications of the scandal. The film balances these two elements perfectly, and this always ensures that the film has enough intrigue to keep the audience's interest. The central point of the implications of lies is very potent at all times, and this was the most interesting aspect of the movie to me. How so many people can form their opinions of someone on the words of a child is made more frightening by the fact that this sort of thing could, and most probably has, actually happened. On the whole; like most of Audrey Hepburn's work in the sixties - this is an excellent film and comes with high recommendations!


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