A film that was director William Wyler’s follow-up to Ben-Hur and also Audrey Hepburn’s final performance in black and white has several reasons to remain a classic. The Children’s Hour is a striking drama of lies, libel and American sexuality. Also starring Shirley MacLaine and James Garner, this film was actually Wyler’s second version of Lillian Hellman’s controversial 1934 Broadway play. His first version of Hellman’s original play, These Three (1936) suppressed the issues of lesbianism entirely. By 1961, Wyler felt the time was right to allow such themes out into Hollywood’s open. In 2006, teacher-student relationships are as sensitive a subject in American culture as ever, making the narrative’s portrayal of the destructive power of slander and shame an especially prescient tale.
Wyler is perhaps one of Old Hollywood’s most prolific and accomplished of directors, but one who has not until recently received much attention because many of his classics, from The Best Years of Our Lives, Jezebel, The Little Foxes and Ben-Hur had styles which could not be easily categorized with specific ‘auteur’ signatures. A master director of acting, Wyler was famous for demanding grueling multiple takes out of his performers in a manner later used by Stanley Kubrick with similar rewarding results. We’re proud to present this lovely 35mm print of a classic cinema treasure.
1961, USA • 107 minutes • 35mm (B&W) • Directed by William Wyler