The Children's Hour - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Children's Hour Reviews

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Super Reviewer
September 5, 2015
From a moral point of view, this is a terribly outdated drama (even if daring for then) that serves as a portrait of an ugly time when it would be considered a danger for children to be "exposed" to lesbian teachers - which the film sometimes also seems to agree as being "unnatural".
August 25, 2015
How did Shirley MacLaine not get an Oscar nod for this?
January 2, 2015
Very heavy drama with some heavyweight acting by Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine, and James Garner. Set in a school for girls with the two leads as the teachers. Deals with some pretty risqué subject matter for 1961. It explores all the complications and fallout from it in a very honest way. Gripping drama that even fifty years later has you angry at the circumstances these characters find themselves in.
September 14, 2014
Okay little potboiler about a troublemaker student at a private girls school who accuses two teachers of being lesbians. I haven't seen the original version of the film, which was also directed by William Wyler and based upon the Lillian Hellman play, but that version is supposed to be better, even if it had to be more subtle in it's references to lesbianism. Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine plays the teachers and James Garner plays a would be suitor. Veronica Cartwright plays one of the
September 8, 2014
I love the melodrama, and of course I love the actors. It is interesting to see how the subject matter was presented in 1961, it seems ahead of it's time and dated at the same time. It's so sad that this is still an issue in some areas today, but also it is good to realize how far we have come. As a movie, this is highly entertaining.
August 22, 2014
What kind of a fool would believe such a story? Outside of a complete dystopian fantasy would the person passing scrutiny have the one of the two girls dragooning the other with her competing strutting and fretting during the climactic scene. Moreover, it is beneath even the Twilight Zone's standards to feature a series of leading questions from the accused women, as the director did, quite bizarrely. If you want a real "molestation" thriller, watch Doubt. Even with all of the credibility issues throughout this film, Shirley McLaine acting is ageless and timeless, and Audrey Hepburn kicks a** .
½ July 5, 2009
Una gran forma de tratar el tema de la lesbiandad en un tiempo en el que estaba prohibido... así también, de cómo las mentiras pueden destruir vidas.
April 24, 2014
A bit outdated in terms of shock value, but equally relevant today as it was then. Fantastic acting all around.
June 27, 2009
Oh the wonderful way they danced around the topic of homosexuality....makes this movie better than any that say it flat out. Shirley gets honors for her gut wrenching confession.
½ January 15, 2014
Fine performances all around, but this one hasn't aged very well. It's very dated and very melodramatic.
½ December 26, 2013
What telling lies about another person can do.
½ December 20, 2013
Wyler's second filmic adaption of Lillian Hellman's controversial play THE CHILDREN'S HOUR, the first attempt is THESE THREE (1936), 25 years later, he marshals his favorite girl Hepburn with the blossoming MacLaine to lead the pack and recounts the taboo lesbian tale with a more provocative approach.

As an indoor drama with flourishes of false accusations, venomous manipulations, fierce rejoinders, highfalutin buffooneries and affecting confessions among its players, a somewhat gnawing touch of agitation originates from the setup of an evil child (Balkin), whose performance and mien is fiendishly maddening, perhaps it is an intentional option to cast an unappealing girl to magnify the dark side of a child, but if the utter repulsion is the aim, it absolutely scores the bullseye.

Unlike in the sensational BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S (1961, 7/10) of the same year, Hepburn strips down to an unostentatious skeleton to portray a woman with unsullied discretion and devoted commitment to her friend, but her pride is too demanding for her spunky fiancé (Garner) to respect, the woman of independence theme runs gloriously in the ending where Hepburn's textbook smile and dignified swanking are emitting gratifying signals both on and off screen. Nevertheless, the obvious and more taxing work is from MacLaine, a closeted lesbian at that time, whose darkest secret has been catalyzed by a contumacious girl's fallacious slander, her confession scenes is one heck of a sensation which persists to impress audiences from generations on. Shamefully, the only acting nomination from the Academy is for the venerable Bainter, who is in every way deserves it and even the win as the moral yardstick at then to reprimand the "unspeakable sin" and becomes the victim of her own (and her granddaughter's) deeds, one may wonder, what will she act if ever she finds out the truth of the story, it's a vivid rendition full of nuances and certainly upgrades her role's credibility from a one-note slant. While Miriam Hopkins is a complete laughingstock here and it is also the big screen debut for the freckle-faced Veronica Cartwright, who can effortlessly give Balkin a good run for her money.

In conclusion, Wyler and the team pluckily open the Pandora's box and lay bare the elephant in the room with calculated cautions, THE CHILDREN'S HOUR is a significantly edifying allegory should be seen by as many as us possible, and an essential prerequisite is if you can fast-forward all those scenes with Karen Balken in it (there are quite a few close-ups which overstay their welcome).
Super Reviewer
August 8, 2010
Thrillers like this, with this amount of tension and political incorrectness, don't get made anymore. Maybe it's because the subject matter is so intense, polarizing, and prejudicial, but sadly, this film still has impact and social significance even fifty years later. Even though it's dealing with homosexuality in a negative light, it is the closest thing to an iconic gay film up to that point. The story deals with a school, run by former college friends, who are working towards the goal of taking on more girls and having a flourishing business. They are very close, and Martha (MacLaine) becomes jealous when Karen (Hepburn) finally sets a date for her wedding to Joe (Garner). A comment, a look, and a shadow lead to a lie, perpetrated by an arrogant child, and leads to both the women being singled out as gay. They lose a libel trial and every one of their students. It's not a story about two women overcoming the lies of a small child, but the destruction that gossip and lies have on the lives of the innocent. Though there are hints that Martha actually is gay, the story deals far more with their descent into bankruptcy, ruin, and depression. It's definitely an actor's film. Hepburn is cool and collected throughout the ordeal, which you can believe because she is the first lady of austere resoluteness. MacLaine acts her younger age, by being emotionally uninhibited at all times. Martha doesn't think through her words before speaking them, and nearly has temper tantrums when the news breaks that she and Karen have been accused of being lesbians. Garner gives his regular stone stiff performance, which works for the film. The real joy to watch in this film is child actor Karen Balkin as Mary, the one who tells the lie. The cunning maneuvers she pulls in blackmailing another little girl to keep perpetuating the lie, can be linked to Salieri bringing down Mozart in the third act of "Amadeus". Though lesbianism isn't given any positive light in this film, it's still a terse thriller that holds up even now.
July 26, 2013
Audrey and Shirley did an amazing job. Great film.
June 10, 2013
I honestly don't know why this play is not taught and this film shown more in high schools and generic college classrooms. Well-acted! If you do not know this story, you really MUST see this adaptation that Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine shine in.
July 9, 2013
As someone who hates repetitive and "on the nose" scenes, I liked the economy of this film. I liked the casting and the score was not too sentimental. That said, I could do with fewer repeated beats with Miriam Hopkins. While I love Hopkins for "Trouble in Paradise" and for having attended my undergrad school, her character was irritating with a capital I.
June 9, 2013
Its not very often a movie makes me sit with my mouth open in sudden disbelief as to what I've witnessed, so you could guess this movie had a massive impact on me.

I'd definitely watch this again soon, and its quite interesting to see how society has changed its views on lesbian and gay interaction since the 1960's
April 4, 2013
William Wyler gives a strong movie with a perfect perfomance by McLaine.
March 25, 2013
What happens when a child mistakes tough love for bullying? tragedy. Among the best performances by each of the 3 leads.
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