The Children's Hour Overview:

The Children's Hour (1961) was a Drama - Black-and-white Film directed by William Wyler and produced by William Wyler and Robert Wyler.

Academy Awards 1961 --- Ceremony Number 34 (source: AMPAS)

AwardRecipientResult
Best Supporting ActressFay BainterNominated
Best Art DirectionArt Direction: Fernando Carrere; Set Decoration: Edward G. BoyleNominated
Best CinematographyFranz F. PlanerNominated
Best Costume DesignDorothy JeakinsNominated
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Quotes from

Mrs. Lily Mortar: God will punish you.
Martha: He's doing all right.


Martha: There's always been something wrong. Always, just as long as I can remember. But I never knew what it was until all this happened.
Karen: Stop it Martha! Stop this crazy talk!
Martha: You're afraid of hearing it, but I'm more afraid that you.
Karen: I won't listen to you!
Martha: No! You've got to know. I've got to tell you. I can't keep it to myself any longer. I'm guilty!
Karen: You're guilty of nothing!
Martha: I've been telling myself that since the night I heard the child say it. I lie in bed night after night praying that it isn't true. But I know about it now. It's there. I don't know how, I don't know why. But I did love you! I do love you! I resented your plans to marry. Maybe because I wanted you. Maybe I've wanted you all these years. I couldn't call it by name before, but maybe it's been there since I first knew you.
Karen: But it's not the truth, not a word of it is true! We've never thought of each other that way.
Martha: No, of course you didn't. But who's to say I didn't. I'd never felt that way about anybody before you. I've never loved a man. I never knew why before, maybe it's that.
Karen: You're tired and worn out.
Martha: It's funny. It's all mixed up. There's something in you, and you don't know anything about it because you don't know it's there. And then suddenly, one night a little girl gets bored and tells a lie, and there, for the first time, you see it. Then you say to yourself, did she see it? Did she sense it?
Karen: But you know it could have been any lie. She was looking for anything to...
Martha: But why this lie? She found the lie with the ounce of truth. Don't you see? I can't stand to have you touch me! I can't stand to have you look at me! Oh, it's all my fault. I have ruined your life and I have ruined my own. I swear I didn't know it! I didn't mean it! Oh, I feel so damn sick and dirty I can't stand it anymore!


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Facts about

The Broadway production of "The Children's Hour" by Lillian Hellman opened at the Maxine Elliott's Theatre on November 20, 1934 and ran for 691 performances.
The film gets its name from a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Shirley MacLaine, in the documentary The Celluloid Closet, said that nobody on the set of The Children's Hour discussed the ramifications of the issues regarding homosexuality that are implied, but never spoken about outright, in the film. She said, "none of us were really aware. We might have been forerunners, but we weren't really, because we didn't do the picture right. We were in the mindset of not understanding what we were basically doing. These days, there would be a tremendous outcry, as well there should be. Why would Martha break down and say, 'Oh my god, what's wrong with me, I'm so polluted, I've ruined you.' She would fight! She would fight for her budding preference. And when you look at it, to have Martha play that scene - and no one questioned it - what that meant, or what the alternatives could have been underneath the dialog, it's mind boggling. The profundity of this subject was not in the lexicon of our rehearsal period. Audrey and I never talked about this. Isn't that amazing. Truly amazing."
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Best Supporting Actress Oscar 1961






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Also directed by William Wyler




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Also produced by William Wyler




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Also released in 1961




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