Lillian Hellman’s study of the devastating effect of malicious slander and implied guilt comes to the screen for the second time in this crackling production of The Children’s Hour. William Wyler, who directed the 1936 production (These Three), which veered away from the touchier, more sensational aspects of Hellman’s Broadway play, this time has chosen to remain faithful to the original source.
Story deals with an irresponsible, neurotic child who spreads a slanderous rumor of a lesbian relationship between the two headmistresses of the private school for girls she attends.
Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine, in the leading roles, beautifully complement each other. Hepburn’s soft sensitivity, mar- velous projection and emotional understatement result in a memorable portrayal. MacLaine’s enactment is almost equally rich in depth and substance. James Garner is effective as Hepburn’s betrothed, and Fay Bainter comes through with an outstanding portrayal of the impressionable grandmother who falls under the evil influence of the wicked child.
1961: Nominations: Best Supp. Actress, (Fay Bainter), B&W Cinematography, B&W Costume Design, B&W Art Direction