The Children’s Hour (1961)


“God will punish you.” – Mrs. Lily Mortar

“He’s doing all right.” – Martha

Number of Times Seen – 1 (22 May 2019)

Brief Synopsis – A child in a girl’s boarding school accuses two of her female teachers of being lovers which causes much backlash in the town.

My Take on it – This is another film that I knew absolutely nothing about before coming across it in my quest to watch all films that have had Oscar nominated performances in them.

The title intrigued me and I was quite surprised by the premise which deals with issues that were not openly dealt with at the time.

They are able to take such a lofty subject and deal with it quite delicately while still managing to keep things intriguing and interesting throughout.

The cast of this film is superb and the trio of leads played by Audrey Hepburn, James Garner and Shirley MacClaine are all amazing in these roles because they make us believe that they are playing real people dealing with real world problems.

The story is moved along at a great pace and I really loved the way that they decided to keep much of the story quite ambiguous up until the very end since it helps make the viewer form an opinion about what is truly going on and seeing that thru.

The dialogue of this film is written extremely well and it allows us to get an even deeper understanding of everything that is going on in the story.

This is accentuated by the fact that they use colorful metaphors to describe and discuss much of the subject matter which was taboo to discuss openly at that time.

Fay Bainter also does a wonderful job in a small yet pivotal role yet she allows us to see her acting range by her performance since her character changes her attitude and opinions numerous times throughout the film.

She was very desrvingly nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her work here.

Bottom Line – Excellent film that is able to deal with such a lofty subject in a very appropriate way despite the fact that it discusses issues that were not discussed at the time. The cast is superb and all three leads make us believe that they are real characters dealing with a real problem. The story moves at a great pace and I loved the way that they manage to keep so much of the plot ambiguous throughout most of the film because it allows the viewer to form their own opinion as to what should be believed. The dialogue is superbly written and it allows us to get an even deeper understanding of things especially given the way that things are described and discussed.  Bainter is also excellent in her small yet pivotal role and we get to see the character’s range and attitudes that constantly changes during the course of the film.  She was deservingly nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her work here. Highly Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Veronica Cartwright (Rosalie) said in an interview that her and the other children were told not to hang around with Shirley MacLaine on set because she “cursed a lot”. They all did, however, because they thought she was “cool” and “very generous”. She also became Cartwright’s mentor throughout the making of the film. (From IMDB)

Rating – Oscar Worthy (9/10)

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5 thoughts on “The Children’s Hour (1961)

  1. I didn’t like it as much as you. Garner is rather bland and the politics are dated. The original film version, These Three, substitutes the play’s lesbian accusation with a heterosexual one and is much better. Miriam Hopkins was in both. It’s based on an incident that took place in Scotland in the 1800’s.

    Liked by 1 person

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