Best Books of the Month Shop Men's Shoes Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon $5 Albums All-New Amazon Fire TV Grocery Amazon Gift Card Offer blacklist blacklist blacklist  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 Kindle Voyage Shop Now Learn more

The Children's Hour 1961 NR

(175) IMDb 7.8/10
Watch Trailer

In this provocatively daring film, an attention-seeking schoolgirl vengefully spreads rumors that her teachers (Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine) are lesbians.

Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine
1 hour, 49 minutes

Available to watch on supported devices.

By placing your order, you agree to our Terms of Use. Sold by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. Additional taxes may apply.

Product Details

Genres Drama
Director William Wyler
Starring Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine
Supporting actors James Garner, Miriam Hopkins, Fay Bainter, Karen Balkin, Veronica Cartwright, Mimi Gibson, Debbie Moldow, Diane Mountford, William Mims, Sally Brophy, Hope Summers, Jered Barclay, Florence MacMichael, Harold Miller, Ed Prentiss
Studio MGM
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Rental rights 24 hour viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

158 of 161 people found the following review helpful By Gary F. Taylor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 1, 2002
Format: DVD
Written and first staged in the 1930s, THE CHILDREN'S HOUR was master playwright Lillian Helman's first great success. It also provoked a scandal: the story concerned two women who run a school for girls--and who suffer scandal and personal tragedy when an unruly student accuses them of having a lesbian affair. The play was such a success that Hollywood wasted little time in buying the film rights, but the material was too hot for the 1930s film industry; the story was significantly rewritten into a fairly insipid love-triangle melodrama and was released under the title THESE THREE. It would be another thirty years before American film was ready to tackle the play head on.
Many critics have noted that THE CHILDREN'S HOUR is not about lesbianism, but about the power of a lie. There is some truth to this, for the entire plot rests on the child's lie and its devasting effect. But Helman was not a superficial writer: once the knife goes in, she twists it several times, first in a series of emotional revelations between the leading characters and finally in a portrait of society that attacks any one perceived as different in any way--even to the point of driving them to death. Some complain that this is merely another Hollywood stereotype in which the gay character has to be punished by the film's conclusion, but I disagree; if anything, Helman's point remains as unfortunately valid today as it was in the 1930s and again in the 1960s.
The cast ranges from solid to exceptional, and the supporting cast is exceptionally fine. Fay Bainter and Mirian Hopkins, both legendary actresses, give truly memorable performances in supporting roles; child actresses Karen Balkin and Veronica Cartwright also give remarkably powerful performances.
Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Kosmos on October 6, 1999
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
It is a very good movie that deals with a very difficult social issue in a very believable plot. It will keep you in suspense all the time. I felt a great deal of empathy for the leading ladies as they were falsely accused based on the lies of a wicked child. Lesbianism was the issue but, the way it was handled in the film, it would apply to any other delicate matter. Just imagine how difficult would be to prove wrong or attack the credibility of a child.

Excellent performances by all the actors, especially Ms. Hepburn who portrays one of her most dramatical roles. Pay special attention to the last scenes, the conclusion is superb, both in plot resolution and in cinematography. Observe Ms. Hepburn in the final shots, she is as graceful as ever with a black coat and a black beret, just in simple clothes.

William Wyler was excellent in directing this movie and he is able to show his special touch with a surprising ending as he did with Roman Holiday. Viewers are left with a wistful yearning. He is successful in portraying that unhappy endings are sometimes much better storywise and cinematically, and also to better reflect reality.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Raider Jack on December 19, 2002
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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. (As a matter of fact, being gay and African-American, an excellent companion piece to this film would be the original film production of "A Raisin in the Sun." This constitutes inspiration of the highest order!!)

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." This version does exactly what it was 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 thought-provoking and important film.
3 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Ellington VINE VOICE on September 15, 2008
Format: DVD
This is one of those movies I didn't expect to hit me the way that it did. I love Hepburn and MacLaine and so I was anticipating finally getting to sit down and watch this film, but I truly had no idea what to expect. Hepburn was such a wonderfully light actress, an actress who filtered in and out of breezy comedies with such effortless charisma, so I was expecting something a little less dramatic and little more entertaining. What I got instead was one of those films that socks you in the gut and leaves you pondering issues and consequences that never seem to leave your head afterward.

`The Children's Hour' is haunting.

The film tells the story of Karen Wright and Martha Dobie, two young women who run a boarding school for young girls. Little Mary Tilford is quite the troublemaker and is constantly finding herself in trouble, and this moves her to tell a little lie (or more like a major embellishment) in order to free herself of trouble. This lie spreads quickly and threatens to destroy the lives of Karen and Martha.

What is so amazing and in the end captivating about `The Children's Hour' is that it never becomes predictable but from beginning to end keeps the audience in anticipation. The relationship between Karen and Martha is a huge question mark to the audience, which helps with our understanding of the lie, and this also keeps us wondering how much validity there is to the accusation. This is a brilliant tactic used to keep the audience hooked, and it works on all levels.

Thanks to some brilliant acting as well, `The Children's Hour' skyrockets to the top of the pack, delivering a very heartfelt and moving drama about deception and regret.
Read more ›
14 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews