1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exploration into Deceit
William Wyler's THE CHILDREN'S HOUR is a multi-layered exploration into deceit and lies. The focus and origin of the deceit and lies is based on an accusation of lesbianism. Two schoolmistresses (Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine), as seen through the eyes of an affluent community, supposedly practiced this sexual deviation (circa 1961), at a girl's school. Initiated by...
Published on Nov. 26 2002 by hille2000
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What the loudest whisper can do...
What the maliciously whispered lies of one nasty little kid can do! What can it do? I recall Malcolm McDowell's character in if... saying how one bullet in the right place could change the world. Well, something similar happens here, only the world that is shattered results in the discrediting of three innocent people.
Mary is an aggressive troublemaker at the...
Published on June 23 2004 by Daniel J. Hamlow
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good film with inconsistencies,
This review is from: Children's Hour (Widescreen) (DVD)Children's Hour is a superb black and white film with an outstanding cast, but one can see that there were difficulties with script and direction, and the subsequent struggle in the editing room, which prevent the film from having it's full impact. But what an impact it still has!
Fans of Hepburn, MacLaine, and James Garner will find rich rewards in the performances of these well known actors, and the supporting cast is also excellent, especially Karen Balkin and Rosalie Wells, the young female students at the center of the scandal.
The deceptively named "Children's Hour" neatly camouflages the real story behind the happy schoolhouse, which makes for compelling and surprising drama, to say the least, and unique topical material.
As far as editing is concerned, the numerous jump cuts within scenes either indicated an incompetent editor, or that director William Wyler didn't give himself enough coverage on many scenes. But these difficulties only foreshadowed other structural problems. A MAJOR portion of the drama is missing: the courtroom drama was completely circumvented! And then the doting and melodramatic ending, the loss of love, and the peculiar depression of the characters even in the face of their ultimate victory...I don't buy it. The ending seemed to drag awkwardly on and on, and Martha Dobie's (MacLaine) final act was not justified under the circumstances. If it was justified, her performance didn't convince me that it was.
Above all, the enormous period taboo against homosexuality stretched the ending to what I think we today would agree is an unreasonable and quite excessive conclusion.
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and Thought Provoking,
This review is from: Children's Hour (Widescreen) (DVD)Highly recommended Audrey Hepburn and Shirley Maclaine drama. Maclaine gives an amazing performance in this. James Garner is also in top form here. Hepburn's performance is subtle and well played throughout. Extremely well directed by William Wyler(Ben Hur). Great score! Be warned though...The ending is VERY depressing.
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Film, FIVE STARS,
This review is from: Children's Hour (Widescreen) (DVD)Whenever one hears the name Audrey Hepburn, they often think of Sabrina, My Fair Lady, or Breakfast At Tiffany's. THIS film is one of Hepburn's greatest, and even as one of her biggest fans, I never heard of this movie...until I saw it at blockbuster.
At first, my mom didn't want me to see it. She claimed that the themes were too mature and about "women loving women." About a month or two later, I saw The Hours. I think I was ready for this 1961 movie.
I began The Children's Hour automatically thinking that Audrey Hepburn would be my favorite character. I was wrong. I'd never seen Shirley MacLaine in a film before, and now, not only do I suspect that she's Renee Zellweger's mother, but I believe she is an amazing actress of the screen.
I was also quite impressed with the performance of Veronica Cartwright, who played Rosalie (is she the sister of Nancy Cartwright, who played Brigita or someone in the Sound of Music?? they look exactly alike!!). The girl who played Mary was also a good little actress, I was just bugged by her "confused" and "scared" looks. They cracked me up, because they were so bad.
Sure, it's kinda cheesy that since they can't say the word "lesbian" on screen they have to whisper it, or say it behind a door or something. But that's what you have to respect. Nowadays, you can just SAY something in a movie, and everyone knows what you're talking about. Back then, there were certain words that couldn't be said. Words that you had to express through acting. And Shirley MacLaine did an unbelievable job at it.
Fay Bainter was nominated for her role as the evil grandma (not really evil; mary is, but whatever). What I want to know is why Shirley MacLaine didn't get nominated!! She was excellent!! Amazing!! Her performance blew me away and had me sobbing SO hard at the end of the movie!! (WAAAAAAAH!!!)
Shocking, twisted, captivating and an unbelievable achievement for one of Hollywood's very first movies about lesbians, The Children's Hour is something you really don't want to miss.
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking even for a teenager,
By A Customer
This review is from: Children's Hour (Widescreen) (DVD)I saw this movie when I was a young teenager. Although I didn't understand 100% the rumor about the two protagonists, I recall the impact the movie had on me when I saw Shirley Mac Laine in her final scene. I was stunned by the possible ramifications of idol gossip. Because of the movie's impact on me, I would recommend this to a teenage crowd, which today is a lot more sophisticated than I was in the late sixties.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Childerns Hour,
This review is from: Children's Hour (Widescreen) (DVD)A Great, Great movie always a big fan of Audrey's also Shirley's and James Garner. Being a child of the thirty's I love this kind of a movie. Very bold for it's day.
4.0 out of 5 stars Still Packs a Punch...Hepburn is terrific,
This review is from: Children's Hour (Widescreen) (DVD)I just bought this after seeing it again (after many years) on Turner Classic Movies, in letterbox. I have never been a big Audrey Hepburn fan, but found her performance poignant and beautifully understated. I actually cried at the end. Shirley McLaine, Fay Bainter and Karen Balkin are all excellent in their roles, as well.
The black and white photography has a wistful and dream-like quality (especially the opening scene), making the ugly lie that destroys everyone all that more disturbing.
3.0 out of 5 stars Whispers, murmurs and lies ....,
By A Customer
This review is from: Children's Hour (Widescreen) (DVD)ORIGINALLY released as "The Loudest Whisper" this one neatly counterpoints the 'hinted' relationships of "The Haunting" .... although this fairly timely warhorse by Lillian Hellman still works very well on stage.
Originally filmed in the thirties with Mirian Hopkins ~ there was no hint of the lesbian implied romance, this one is somewhat bold for 1961 and provides excellent acting chops from both Miss Hepburn and Miss MacLaine - both performances are quite timeless - especially Maclaine's gradual and shatering breakdown - and the wordless conclusion between Miss Hepburn and fiancee .......
Touching, sad and unforgettable....
4.0 out of 5 stars A Child's Lie,
This review is from: Children's Hour (Widescreen) (DVD)"The Children's Hour," based on the play by Lillian Hellman, is for anyone who appreciates quality filmmaking. Expertly directed by William Wilder, the film is a multi-layered, richly textured morality tale regarding a simple lie and it's devastating consequences. Considered quite controversial upon it's initial release, the film seems rather tame by today's standards.
As headmistresses of the exclusive Wright-Dobie School for Girls, Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine deliver stand-out performances, acting as teachers, disciplinarians, and den-mothers to a brood of twenty girls under their charge. After Mary (Karen Balkin) a deceitful, lying little bully who is black-mailing one of her fellow classmates, is punished by Karen (Hepburn) and Martha (MacLaine), she takes revenge by twisting an overheard comment between the two women and turns it into a vicious falsehood against her teachers, intimating that the two are lovers. She relates this lie to her overly trusting grandmother (Acadamy Award nominee Fay Bainter) who soon spreads the gossip to the parents of the other girls and to the community at large. The resulting furor threatens the future of the school and ostracizes the two women as outcasts.
Unfortunately, the lie also forces a guilt-ridden Martha to examine her feelings for her friend and confront her own repressed homosexuality, which leads to disasterous results.
Although the homosexual aspect of the story has taken the focus (complete with the gay character being punished for her "perversion".......a norm in films of the time which featured a gay character), the film's core is actually about the utter destruction that can be caused by innuendo and half-truths and the power of the spoken word.
Hepburn and MacLaine are backed up with equally powerful perfomances from Bainter, Miriam Hopkins as Martha's somewhat daffy Aunt Lillian and James Garner as Karen's frustrated but ever loyal fiance. Angela Cartwright (of "Lost In Space" fame) has a smaller role as the kleptomaniac student being blackmailed by Mary. The film is beautifully photographed in black and white which actually enhances the tone of the film. The peaceful and serene country setting of the picture mirrors the opening scenes of happiness, hope and contentment but soon stands in stark contrast to the turmoil which soon takes place within it's idyllic confines.
The DVD version provides excellent picture and sound quality but alas, offers no extras except for a theatrical trailer, thereby excluding it from a full 5-star rating.
5.0 out of 5 stars Important, Impressive, Inspiring!!!!!!!!!!!,
This review is from: Children's Hour (Widescreen) (DVD)I definitely remember seeing this movie as a youngster, well before I had come out to friends and family, and it left an indelible impression on me and actually provided me with survival tools, all people, regardless of their differences would invariably need to effectively deal with societal intolerance. The performances are spellbinding, most notably, Audrey Hepburn and Shirley McClaine. It was indeed ahead of its time and quite frankly I am surprised it has not been re-done. But on second thought, regardless of cast, there would be very little that a remake could lend. This would be a classic example of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The original version does exactly what it intended to do: open up a dialogue. It is uncomprimising and tastefully done with wrenching performances and is just as timely today as when it was first produced. I heartily recommend it as a though-provoking and important film.
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece Movie,
This review is from: Children's Hour (Widescreen) (DVD)Once upon a time, when I was a teenager filled with angst and rebellion, I decided to skip school one day and mope around the house contemplating my life's direction... or lack of. It was snowing outside and I knew sooner or later there would be school closings announced, so I turned on the tv and flipped thru the channels.... an advertisement came on announcing that an old Shirley MacClaine movie was comming up next, so I popped in a blank videotape and started taping what would turn out to be my absolute favorite B&W movie of all time- "The Children's Hour". I still have that old tape and every now and then I watch it... complete with a total of EIGHT weather alert interruptions, and SIX continuous running banners on the bottom of the screen announcing multiple local school closings due to the sudden unbearable snow storms.... and I'm talking the loud BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! LOOKEY HERE! LOOKEY HERE! WE'RE GONNA RUIN YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE WITH THESE TOTALLY OBNOXIOUS INTERRUPTIONS!! HA! HA! YOU SHOULD HAVE WENT TO SCHOOL TODAY BONEHEAD!, kind of messages. SO, it was a wonderful experience to watch this masterpiece on dvd and see the absolutely brilliant clarity and charm that only a B&W movie can show. I got the dvd version off ebay from a seller in Cheshire, United Kingdom and so I beat y'all to the U.S. December 3rd, 2002 release. Ahhh.... I think I'll call in sick to work tomorrow and watch this movie in bed... I heard there's suppose to a snow storm tomorrow. : )
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Children's Hour (Widescreen) by William Wyler (DVD - 2003)