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.


Wyler remade his own screen adaptation of Hellman's play about two teachers accused of lesbianism at a private girls' school. The fomenter of the scandal is a mean-spirited and mentally unstable girl who convinces her grandmother that she and the other students have been exposed to unspeakable depravity. The younger and more emotionally vulnerable of the two teachers watches her relationship with her fiance collapse while her alleged lover must come to terms with her own hidden desires.

(Source: available at Amazon AMC Classic Movie Companion).


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

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.
Doris Day was considered to play one of two female leads.
William Wyler cut several scenes hinting at Martha's homosexuality for fear of not receiving the seal of approval from the Motion Picture Production Code. At the time, any story about homosexuality was forbidden by the production code.
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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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