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125 user 45 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.

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(play), (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:
... Karen Wright
... Martha Dobie
... Dr. Joe Cardin
... Mrs. Lily Mortar
... Mrs. Amelia Tilford
Karen Balkin ... Mary Tilford
... Rosalie Wells
Mimi Gibson ... Evelyn
Debbie Moldow
Diane Mountford
William Mims ... Mr. Burton
Sally Brophy ... Rosalie's Mother (as Sallie Brophy)
... 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 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:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

19 December 1961 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Infamous!  »

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Box Office

Budget:

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

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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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

At 48:10, the position of the bracelet on the finger changes, then changes back. See more »

Quotes

Mrs. Lily Mortar: God will punish you.
Martha: He's doing all right.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Homo Promo (1991) 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

 
Cruel and Heartbreaking Story about the Destructive Power of a Lie
20 February 2011 | by See all my reviews

Karen Wright (Audrey Hepburn) and Martha Dobie (Shirley MacLaine) 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 (James Garner), who is the nephew of the powerful and influent Mrs. Amelia Tilford (Fay Bainter). While the spiteful and liar Mary (Karen Balkin), 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 (Miriam Hopkins) in another room. Lily accuses Martha of being jealous and having an unnatural relationship with Karen. Mary's roommate Rosalie Wells (Veronica Cartwright) 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 Amelia and have their lives destroyed. Further, Karen calls off her engagement with Joe when he asks her if what was said about Martha and she was true. The lie ends in a tragedy.

"The Children's Hour" is a cruel and heartbreaking story that shows how destructive power of a lie may be. William Wyler is among my favorite directors and this film is a little gem with a magnificent screenplay. Shirley MacLaine has awesome performance in the role of a woman that does not accept her (homo) sexual preference and the girl Karen Balkin is amazing in the role of one of the meanest characters I have ever seen. In the mid 90's, in São Paulo, Brazil, the owners of the Escola Base were falsely accused of pedophilia in a national scandal and had their lives destroyed. Years later, it was proved that they were innocent, in a case of life copycatting fiction. My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): "Infâmia" ("Infamy")


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