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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 Mimi Gibson ... Evelyn
Debbie Moldow Debbie Moldow
Diane Mountford Diane Mountford
William Mims William Mims ... Mr. Burton
Sally Brophy Sally Brophy ... Rosalie's Mother (as Sallie Brophy)
Hope Summers ... Agatha (Tilford's 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:

Infamous! See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

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

Company Credits

Production Co:

The Mirisch Corporation See more »
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

The start of the movie implies that Mary gets the idea to "accuse" Karen and Martha of lesbianism from a forbidden book that gets passed around secretly among the school's students. Although this book is not identified by title in the movie, Hellman's play specifies that the book is Mademoiselle de Maupin by Théophile Gautier, a French novel published in 1835. The novel concerns a woman who disguises herself as a man and has both a woman and a man fall in love with her, so it did contain at least the concept of lesbianism and therefore answers the question of how Mary could have conceived of the charge she levels against Martha and Karen without ever actually seeing them engage in any romantic or sexual activity. See more »

Goofs

During the first scene you meet James Garner's character speaking to Shirley MacLaine, she finishes drying one older pot, then starts on a new pot. They cut away to a wide shot, and she is still drying the older pot, then, once again, starts on the new pot. 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 ...
[...]
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Connections

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Alien from L.A. (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

Loch Lomond
(uncredited)
Traditional Scots-Gaelic song first published in 1841
Included in piano medley
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Powerful and dated yet strangely timeless
2 November 2002 | by artrorabackSee all my reviews

The Children's Hour is a powerful film dealing with the effects of lies and discrimination. Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn give terrific performances as 2 girl school teachers accused of being lesbians. Their lives are ruined by an obnoxious little girl who spreads lies. The film is dated in that society today wouldn't bat an eyelash over such a sitation (in fact their school today would probably set attendance records) but you can substitute any minority or ethnic group for the 2 lead characters and see how people can suffer at the hand of discrimination. The movie is based upon the Lillian Hellman play and recommended for movie buffs of all ages.


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