Movie Review – The Children’s Hour (1961)

The Children’s Hour is a film starring Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine and James Garner.  It is a film that dealt with a touchy subject back in its day and even now today, that of a person being gay.  Even though it is much more accepted in this day and age, one can only wonder how it might have polarised audiences who went to see the movie back then.

The film itself is fantastic from start to finish.  The subject matter was tackled head on, but with such seeming ease it was a pure joy to watch.  A lot of it could probably be attributed to the script and the strong writing which really gets a grasp on each of the characters and the parts they play.  From conniving schoolgirls to the worrisome aunt, everyone’s part rang true.

It was the lead actors though that stole the show for they formed the emotional core around which everything took place.  Audrey Hepburn gave the role her usual expert performance, playing the part of a woman torn between her fiancée and her best friend.  Whom should she remain loyal?  And when chosen, did she choose right?  Garner who is the said fiancée was also cast perfectly.  He himself doesn’t know what the right decision is as he loves his wife to be, but society and upbringing tell him he is wrong.  But kudos go out to Shirley MacLaine for giving it her all and then some as the woman who is in love with her best friend.  She had never before acknowledged her feelings but due to circumstances she now has to deal with those emotions head on, with the world telling her it is dirty and wrong.  MacLaine seemed to pour her whole being into the role and it definitely paid off.

The film is magic on screen, from the direction by the master William Wyler to the strong performances of all involved.  It is well worth the time to sit and watch it if you are in the mood for a really good dramatic film.

4 out of 5

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