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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 13 Nov. 2006
By 
Amazon Customer (Bournemouth UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Children's Hour [DVD] (DVD)
This is a superb film where two teachers suspected of having a lesbian relationship loose everything, made in 1961 when censorship prevented any overt reference to the subject matter.

But that is what makes the wonderfully subtle screenplay realised in the superbly understated performances by Hepburn and MacLaine so effective, the censor restraints somehow make the plot more involving, it leaves so much to the imagination of the viewer.

Another unusual aspect of the film is the casting of children in the role of villains, 12 year old Karen Balkin gives a fine child performance as the malicious Mary Tilford whose lies are responsible for all the teachers' problems.

But as in real life nothing is exactly what it seems, and the subtle plot reveals deeper layers of suppressed emotion as it unfolds.

William Wyler filmed this controversial 1934 Hellman play twice, once in 1936 as "These Three" with Miriam Hopkins (the Aunt in this version) as Martha and Merle Oberon as Karen. In 1936 the lesbian aspects had to be replaced with a heterosexual triangle.

The 1961 version is a truly fascinating film gaining strength from the constraints of its time.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hepburn and McLaine at their best, 17 July 2004
By 
Miguel M. Santos "miguelmsantos" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Children's Hour [DVD] (DVD)
William Wyler had made film version of this story in 1936, but then he had to give in to the censors in some things. In 1961, enjoying a bit more freedom he decided to keep closer to Lilian Hellman's original. Although there is an outdated prespective on homosexuality in it, there was something about this film that made me really like it and it's still a powerful testemony of how mean gossip can ruin someone's life. Two friends (Audrey Hepburn and Shirley McLaine) have a girls' school and everything seems finally to be fine, when one of the girls accuses them of being lesbians. And every parent soon starts taking their children out of the school. The two actresses are great, and so are Miriam Hopkins and Fay Bainter.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 11 Aug. 2011
By 
GratuitousViolets "Ash" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Children's Hour [DVD] (DVD)
My Thoughts: "The Children's Hour" is a thought-proking film that gives you an insight into how the simplest of lies and rumours can escalate into ruining the professional reputations, relationships and essentially the lives of the undeserving and the well-intentioned. Here we have Shirley MacLaine in one of her most intense and prolific roles as a young woman who is unwillingly suffocated by her sexual identity and her best friend portrayed by Audrey Hepburn, as an innocent party who is eventually caught in the crossfire.

This film, a remake of a 1930's heavily censored adaption from a Broadway play, still manages to toe the line of the Hays production code yet jumps into realms of scandal and suggestion far more than the original was allowed. The dialogue is beautifully written and the mood of the film drags you into this spellbinding world of lies, rumours and bigotism in an age when homosexuality was still illegal.

Both Shirley Maclaine and Audrey Hepburn's performances were deep and intense, the electricity of their scenes is tangible and breathtaking. Audrey Hepburn's quiet grace and poise is perfectly set in contrast with Shirley MacLaine's fiery unreciprocated passion. It's no surprise that MacLaine was nominated for a Golden Globe for her work in this film (she should have won it!). This should be on every "100 movies to see before you die" list. If anything, it'll make you think twice the next time you tell someone about a rumour you've heard.

The Plot: Karen Wright and Martha Dobie have been close friends since the age of seventeen and now are working colleagues at a modest all-girls boarding school they are also independently running with the help of Martha's Aunt Lily. When Karen reveals she and her fiance of two years, Joe Cardin, have set a date, Martha's angst-ridden reaction leads Aunt Lily to determining that Martha's feelings for Karen may be "unnatural" and more than platonic.

Bad girl Mary, the granddaughter of a wealthy financer of the school and also the cousin of Karen's fiance, learns through a string of observations and second-hand observations that certain suggestions have been made to the two teachers relationship, and when she is continually antagonised by the teachers for her less-than-stellar behaviour, she lashes out by implying to her grandmother that Miss Wright and Miss Dobie have been lovers.

Soon, all involved find their lives thrown out of balance as the school is relieved of all students, and the livelihood that Karen and Martha have depended on is swept from beneath their feet. The relationship between the two women suffers, as does Karen's relationship with Joe, and the three will soon discover how a lie can destroy the lives of everyone around it. Especially if there is a chance the lie just may partially be true.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the lies we tell...., 20 Jan. 2008
By 
RD - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Children's Hour [DVD] (DVD)
A brilliant but lesser known/talked about Hepburn movie that I decided to watch after lots of deliberation. I'm glad I did get it as I was surprised to find she was joined by James Garner as well as Shirley Mclaine. The three of them come together to make 'The Children's Hour' an interesting movie that unveils the far reaching effects of gossip, especially the malicious type.

Hepburn (Karen) and Mclaine (Martha) play two life-long friends who have started up an all girls boarding school which is just starting to find its feet. Unfortunately, one of their problem children comes up with a plan to get out of the school for good. She tells her grandmother that the two teachers have an 'unnatural' relationship and she has seen and heard things in the night. All of this is complete rubbish of course but because of half-truths, plain lies and words taken out of context the news of their affair soon travels through to all the other parents and soon the school is empty.
Karen and Martha's life falls apart compltely as they can't even leave the house without being harassed which soon takes a toll on all those involved. The ending is very sad and made me cry but also serves to highlight the point of the movie and is well chosen and filmed.

Quite different from Audrey Hepburn's most famous romantic comedy type stuff but well worth watching.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Subtitles, 11 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: The Children's Hour [DVD] (DVD)
For anyone interested: English, French, Dutch, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Danish and Greek subtitles are included (ordered my copy in Nov 2012).
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Breath Taking Film of Apparent Unnatural Love, 22 Oct. 2012
By 
Michelle Carline "~*Mickie *~" (Doncaster, South Yorkshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Children's Hour [DVD] (DVD)
I found this film 'Children's Hour' (1961) by accident. I was looking at 1950s pulp fiction book cover posters that were lesbian related and a film poster for a 1936 for a film called 'These Three.' the 1936 film was an edited version, i.e no lesbian connotations at all, and was instead based around a love triangle of the heterosexual nature. But, when I looked up 'These Three' I discovered the original nature of the story and in turn this fabulous 1961 version.

And WHAT an amazing film it is. I've always been a fan of Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine in this incredibly daring film adaptation of Lillian Hellman's play about the headmistresses of a girls school who are accused of 'unnatural relations'. Their acting in this drama is breath taking as is James Garners (who normally did comedy), as is the film itself. Although 'lesbian' is never once said it makes no bones about what the implied accusations are about, accusations that come from the mouth of a mealy mouthed and frankly evil child, lies that have tragic consciousnesses. Although there is also a twist to the story too.

And please do not assume this is the usual 'gay love story,' this is far from that....very very far...The one thing you do realise is that if you were gay or were outed as gay, if it was untrue, your life was hell!
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars one of Hollywoods' best, 16 Aug. 2004
By A Customer
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This review is from: The Children's Hour [DVD] (DVD)
Audrey Hepburn and Shirly Maclaine have done it again. The film is based on the play by Lillian Hellman and the film was also made before in the thirties with Miriam Hpkins who also co-stars in this film. Titled 'these three' it did recieve more success and this film has been put down quite a lot. Halliwels onle gave it one star which is a big disapointment.
I think the story of this film was exelent and all the actors were at thier best. The story was all about how two women Karen Wright (Hepburn) and Martha Dobie(Maclaine)own an exclusive girls school which is closed after a rumour is spread of the women having a lesbian relationship. The story ends in a dramatic way and makes you think of the consoquensis of rumours.
This film is another Hollywood great in exellent condition, a defenite two thumbs up.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful performances in gorgeous black and white, 31 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: The Children's Hour [DVD] (DVD)
I love Audrey Hepburn in everything, but this small and quiet film is something quite special I think. Many of her films are great in a number of different ways, but not all of the them deal with a subject as urgent as this. Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine plays two close friends running and teaching at a boarding school for girls. They are accused by one of the girls of being in an "inappropriate" relationship with one another and this immediately has severe consequences on their lives. It's wonderfully acted and the photography is amazing. Although the term homophobia is never used, I feel that the film discusses the issue in a delicate and poignant way. It's well worth watching!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A very good adaptation of the theatre play., 16 April 2011
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This review is from: The Children's Hour [DVD] (DVD)
Audrey Hepburn at her sweetest and loveliest, with beautiful expressive doe eyes, narrow fragile wrists, long aristocratic hands, a huge Victorian bun on top of a slender, graceful swan-like neck, and a neat, petite, frail frame. The camera just loves her.
To play her role, Shirley MacLaine manages to look plain and dowdish. The range of expressions she has to display is really wide, and the dark, brooding moods of her character are particularly well carried across. You can see that she was trained in the theatre. One of her best performances.
Very good supporting child actors.
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5.0 out of 5 stars the childrens hour, 9 Jun. 2008
By 
joanrocks (east yorkshire) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Children's Hour [DVD] (DVD)
i first saw this film on tv (well the last halfhour)and decided i had to see it from the begining it is very well acted by all.The story is about two friends who run a boarding school then a little girl spreads a nasty rumour that the women are lesbians and the parents remove the children from the school as their world falls apart one of the women realises her true feelings for the other this ends up a sad but thought provoking story.This is well worth seeing especially for maclaine's portrail of martha.
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The Children's Hour [DVD]
The Children's Hour [DVD] by William Wyler (DVD - 2004)
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