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

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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 mature nature of its theme - this motion picture is recommended for adults only. 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

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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

Veronica Cartwright (Rosalie) said in an interview that her and the other children were told not to hang around with Shirley MacLaine on set because she "cursed a lot". They all did, however, because they thought she was "cool" and "very generous". She also became Cartwright's mentor throughout the making of the film. See more »

Goofs

At 1:21:34 Karen moves her hands of Jack's back twice. See more »

Quotes

Martha: There's always been something wrong. Always, just as long as I can remember. But I never knew what it was until all this happened.
Karen: Stop it Martha! Stop this crazy talk!
Martha: You're afraid of hearing it, but I'm more afraid that you.
Karen: I won't listen to you!
Martha: No! You've got to know. I've got to tell you. I can't keep it to myself any longer. I'm guilty!
Karen: You're guilty of nothing!
Martha: I've been telling myself that since the night I heard the child say it. I lie in bed night after night praying that it isn't ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Version of These Three (1936) 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

 
Intelligent, Provocative, Atmospheric.
27 March 2006 | by PizzicatoFishCrouchSee all my reviews

William Wyler's atmospheric drama has two teachers (Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine) be accused of lesbianism by a guileful schoolgirl, and then have that rumour ruin their job, their lives and their friendship.

Somewhat of a taboo for the 60s, Wyler bravely tackles the subject with honesty and integrity, and his cast work well to bring the tense atmosphere to us. As the engaged, straight, Miss Wright, Audrey Hepburn suffers commendably, fighting always for the truth – as she sees it, and as a result, losing her fiancée. Shirley MacLaine is the more ambiguous character of the two. It is not on whether the allegations were true (it is clear from the off that they are just slander of the worst kind from a bored, vindictive little girl) that the mystery of the film lies, but in whether her character does secretly love Hepburns', as more than a friend.

The children are less apt in their roles. None of them have names worth remembering, but the main one who spreads the rumours does it with such exaggerated facial expressions that it is difficult at times of most intense drama not to laugh, and the other girl, who aids her in the spreading of lies, is also laughable in her "fear." However, if the intention was to make us dislike the children as much as possible, then they have succeeded.

But the message is clear – lies of such a powerful decree – even if they are spawned off what is guessed to be the truth, will damage others. It's a hefty topic, and one that lacks slightly, due to the censorship of the time, no doubt, but the behaviour and actions of the characters still ring true today – the hypocrisy of the kind aunt, the spreading of cruel lies just for fun, the boyfriend's abandonment, and how, at the end of the day, it is always the innocent that suffer, yet some, like Hepburn's character, are brave enough to walk out in the public, with their head held high in the air, because they know they were innocent.


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