Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Children's Hour | Code changes love triangle

The Children's Hour, a 1934 stage play by Lillian Hellman was made into a film directed by William Wyler. However, because of the Production Code, the story was adapted into a heterosexual love triangle, the controversial name of the play was changed and the movie eventually released as These Three. Hellman reportedly worked on the screenplay, virtually all of the play's original dialogue was kept, and she was satisfied with the result, saying the play's central theme of gossip was unaffected by the changes. In 1961 the play was adapted, with its lesbian theme intact, for the film The Children's Hour, also directed by Wyler. This version starred Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine, and James Garner,


In the play, Martha Dobie shoots herself instead of hanging herself, but the film is otherwise a quite faithful adaptation, retaining much of the same dialogue found in the play and in the 1936 film version These Three.

In an interview for the documentary The Celluloid Closet (1996), MacLaine said she and Hepburn never talked about their characters' alleged homosexuality. She also claimed Wyler cut some scenes hinting at her character's love for Hepburn because of concerns about press reaction to the film.

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