The Children's Hour - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Children's Hour Reviews

Page 1 of 23
Super Reviewer
August 30, 2017
Lillian Hellman, when she mounted the New York play of her work, noted that the piece was more about the damning power of gossip, and the undercurrent of that idea can certainly be seen here, but thanks to a bravura performance by Shirley MacLaine the main topic at hand is never quite off the table or forgotten. Audrey Hepburn shines as well (as does Garner), but then they have little else to do but to pick and play from the handbook of those unrighteously condemned, whereas MacLaine has self-loathing to contend with in spades. The child actress has a mountain to cross as well, convincing the audience of her latent evil intent, and often borrows too heavily from the Nicolas Cage handbook of overdoing it, but all in all the production makes it point, and is resonant.
August 10, 2017
No doubt one of Audrey Hepburn's most underrated roles & showcased her incredible talent for drama.

The story of two women who run a girls school who are accused of being lesbian by one of the most troublesome students.

This naturally becomes a major issue & destroy their professional career & reputation. Incredible acting from Hepburn & Shirley MacLaine...a film simply ahead of its years.
½ May 9, 2017
A serious drama about how a lie can ruin people's lives.
May 7, 2017
Sensitive and evocative performances, esp. Shirley Maclaine.
January 8, 2017
Very good movie. Insight into social mores and norms of the time and how things have changed. Good performances.
December 7, 2016
The movie, itself, is 2.5 stars worth, but I give half additional a star because of interpretations and employement of music and shots to get a more dramatic tense about this social issue.
Super Reviewer
November 24, 2016
From a moral point of view, this is a terribly outdated drama (even if daring for then) that serves as a portrait of an ugly time when it would be considered a danger for children to be "exposed" to lesbian teachers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."
½ May 10, 2016
Well-acted, albeit dated treatment of a then-taboo topic.
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 May 4, 2014
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.
March 2, 2014
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).
Page 1 of 23