The Children's Hour ()

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A troublemaking student at a girls' school accuses two teachers of being lesbians.

  • Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 1 win & 6 nominations.
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Cast verified as complete

Karen Wright
Martha Dobie
Dr. Joe Cardin
Mrs. Lily Mortar
Mrs. Amelia Tilford
Karen Balkin ...
Mary Tilford
Rosalie Wells
Debbie Moldow ...
Diane Mountford ...
William Mims ...
Mr. Burton
Sally Brophy ...
Rosalie's Mother (as Sallie Brophy)
Agatha - the Tilford Maid
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jered Barclay ...
Grocery Boy (uncredited)
Paul Bradley ...
Parent at Piano Recital (uncredited)
Mourner (uncredited)
Mourner (uncredited)
Pete Kellett ...
Taxi Driver (uncredited)
Florence MacMichael ...
Undetermined Secondary Role (uncredited)
George Mayon ...
Parent at Piano Recital (uncredited)
Parent on Visitor's Day (uncredited)
Funeral Assistant (uncredited)
Head of Hospital (uncredited)
Parent at Piano Recital (uncredited)

Directed by

William Wyler

Written by

Lillian Hellman ... (play)
John Michael Hayes ... (screenplay)
Lillian Hellman ... (adaptation)

Produced by

Robert Wyler ... associate producer
William Wyler ... producer
Walter Mirisch ... executive producer (uncredited)

Music by

Alex North

Cinematography by

Franz Planer ... director of photography (as Franz F. Planer)

Film Editing by

Robert Swink

Editorial Department

Hal Ashby ... assistant film editor (as Wm. Hal Ashby)

Casting By

Lynn Stalmaster ... (uncredited)

Art Direction by

Fernando Carrere

Set Decoration by

Edward G. Boyle

Costume Design by

Dorothy Jeakins

Makeup Department

Emile LaVigne ... makeup artist
Frank McCoy ... makeup artist
Joan St. Oegger ... hair stylist

Production Management

Allen K. Wood ... production manager

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director

Robert E. Relyea ... assistant director
Jerome M. Siegel ... second assistant director

Art Department

Frank Agnone ... property

Sound Department

Don Hall ... sound editor (as Don Hall Jr.)
Fred Lau ... sound
Buddy Myers ... sound re-recordist
Gordon Sawyer ... sound (uncredited)

Camera and Electrical Department

Robert Willoughby ... special still photographer (uncredited)

Costume and Wardrobe Department

Irene Caine ... wardrobe
Bert Henrikson ... wardrobe
Ruth Stella ... wardrobe

Music Department

Richard C. Harris ... music editor
Alex North ... conductor
Victor Arno ... musician: violin (uncredited)
Israel Baker ... musician: violin (uncredited)
Frank Beach ... musician: trumpet (uncredited)
Herman Clebanoff ... musician: violin (uncredited)
John Clyman ... musician: trumpet (uncredited)
Don Cristlieb ... musician: bassoon (uncredited)
Ossip Giskin ... musician: cello (uncredited)
Louis Kaufman ... musician: violin solos (uncredited)
Alfred Lustgarten ... musician: violin (uncredited)
Edgar Lustgarten ... musician: cello (uncredited)
Peter Mercurio ... musician: bass (uncredited)
Abe Most ... musician: clarinet (uncredited)
Alex North ... orchestrator (uncredited)
Edward B. Powell ... orchestrator (uncredited)
Paul Shure ... musician: violin (uncredited)
Eleanor Slatkin ... musician: cello solos (uncredited)
Ann Stockton ... musician: harp (uncredited)
Urban Thielmann ... orchestra contractor (uncredited)
Raymond Turner ... musician: piano (uncredited)
Robert Van Eps ... musician: piano (uncredited)

Other crew

Leon Charles ... dialogue coach
John Franco ... script supervisor
Clarence Marks ... assistant to producer
Wayne Fitzgerald ... title designer (uncredited)
Jean-Étienne Siry ... poster designer (uncredited)
Crew believed to be complete

Production Companies




Special Effects


Other Companies



Plot Summary

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 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. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Keywords
Taglines One of Broadway's greatest hits...becomes powerful, adult screen drama! See more »
Parents Guide View content advisory »

Additional Details

Also Known As
  • The Infamous (United States)
  • Infamous! (United States)
  • The Loudest Whisper (United Kingdom)
  • La rumeur (France)
  • La calumnia (Spain)
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  • 108 min
Aspect Ratio
Sound Mix
Filming Locations

Box Office

Budget $3,600,000 (estimated)

Did You Know?

Trivia The original stage-play was partly inspired by an actual case in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1810. A pupil named Jane Cumming accused her schoolmistresses, Jane Pirie and Marianne Woods, of having an affair. Dame Cumming Gordon, the accuser's influential grandmother, advised her friends to remove their daughters from the boarding school. Within days the school was deserted and the two women had lost their livelihood. Pirie and Woods sued and eventually won, both in court and on appeal, but given the damage done to their lives, their victory was considered hollow. See more »
Goofs Upon learning that Mrs. Tilford is telling every in town she's a lesbian, Martha Dobie (a schoolteacher who should know the difference) threatens to sue her for libel (which pertains to printed defamation of character), rather than slander (oral defamation). However, later in the film, "slander" is used correctly. See more »
Movie Connections Featured in Homo Promo (1991). See more »
Soundtracks Loch Lomond 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 true. But I know about it now. It's there. I don't know how, I don't know why. But I did love you! I do love you! I resented your plans to marry. Maybe because I wanted you. Maybe I've wanted you all these years. I couldn't call it by name before, but maybe it's been there since I first knew you.
Karen: But it's not the truth, not a word of it is true! We've never thought of each other that way.
Martha: No, of course you didn't. But who's to say I didn't. I'd never felt that way about anybody before you. I've never loved a man. I never knew why before, maybe it's that.
Karen: You're tired and worn out.
Martha: It's funny. It's all mixed up. There's something in you, and you don't know anything about it because you don't know it's there. And then suddenly, one night a little girl gets bored and tells a lie, and there, for the first time, you see it. Then you say to yourself, did she see it? Did she sense it?
Karen: But you know it could have been any lie. She was looking for anything to...
Martha: But why this lie? She found the lie with the ounce of truth. Don't you see? I can't stand to have you touch me! I can't stand to have you look at me! Oh, it's all my fault. I have ruined your life and I have ruined my own. I swear I didn't know it! I didn't mean it! Oh, I feel so damn sick and dirty I can't stand it anymore!
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