Top positive review
33 people found this helpful
on 13 November 2006
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.