Tuesday, January 05, 2016

An (almost) Matched Pair of Movies

 Part of  1922 cartoon, Ohio State Journal
Last week TCM (Turner Classic Movie)channel aired two film versions of the same story one after the other. The story is an adaption of a 1934 stage play by Lillian Hellman titled
The Children's Hour. Film versions are, from 1936 (These Three,) and 1961 (The Children's Hour). The later version was shown first. Comparison was interesting. During 25 years between the two film versions attitudes, at least in the case of film regulatory codes, had changed.
The following information comes from the Wikipedia links above.
Hellman's play was inspired by a 1809 true story of two Scottish school teachers whose lives were destroyed when one of their students accused them of engaging in a lesbian relationship, but in the Scottish case, they eventually won their suit, although that did not change the devastation upon their lives. At the time of the play's premiere (1934) the mention of homosexuality on stage was illegal in New York State, but authorities chose to overlook its subject matter when the Broadway production was acclaimed by the critics.

The Hays Code, in effect at the time of the 1936 film's production, would never permit a film to focus on, or even hint, at lesbianism, Samuel Goldwyn was the only producer interested in purchasing the rights. He signed Hellman to adapt her play for the screen, and the playwright changed the lie about the two school teachers being lovers into a rumor that one of them had slept with the other's fiancé. Because the Production Code refused to allow Goldman to use the play's original title, it was changed to The Lie, and then to These Three.

By the time William Wyler was ready to film the remake in 1961, the Hays Code had been liberalised to allow screenwriter John Michael Hayes to restore the original nature of the lie.

Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine and James Garner as two early 1960s schoolteachers and a doctor gave good performances, as did two young pupils involved in "the lie" (Karen Balkin and Veronica Cartwright). The trio of leading actors in the earlier film version, Merle Oberon, Miriam Hopkins and Joel McCrea seemed somewhat stilted and less natural in their deliveries, though Bonita Granville and Marcia Mae Jones did a fine job as conniving pupils.

Maybe it's time for a 2016 remake of the play, with full-on exposure of all that was missing from both these versions. The story would still have to be set in the past, otherwise none of the subject matter would make sense. Full courtroom scenes from the libel case ought to be included, along with more about how "the lie" was told, in sufficiently sordid detail to enrage the girl's grandmother sufficiently for her to feel the need to alert all parents to remove their little darlings from the school.

I couldn't help remembering, during a couple of instances when the two teachers were sitting one at each side of their fireplace, a scene eerily like the one depicted in an antique store acquisition of mine - featured in a post HERE.


Sonny G said...

I saw the 1961 version many times and each time I was so angry, I cried.

I agree, if a remake is made I hope they do it as well as the '61 version or even better.
oh how I loved James Gardner:) wasn't he an aquarius? I'll have to go google that..

Sonny G said...

ops. I meant James Garner and no he was an aries.. april 7

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ It's an affecting story and the later version was far more poignant than the 1936 one, especially the ending.

James Garner is a favourite of ours too, I've liked him ever since those early episodes of "Maverick", years ago. The "Americanization of Emily" is a favourite of mine among his movies, and husband likes his "Rockford" (I do too but the stories get a bit samey after a while).

Aries Sun, yes - Moon Scorpio, 3 planets in Pisces, Libra rising.

mike said...

I don't recall viewing either movie, and I thought I had seen all of her plays-to-movies. Seems a bit strange to adapt Hellman's original to a heterosexual format, thereby despoiling the content. Considering that so many heteros have extracurricular affairs, it would seem trite. I can't imagine a heterosexual affair producing a court challenge...must have been some interesting, fictional circumstances in the movie versions.

I've long admired Hellman for her stand during the McCarthy era of blackballing. She and so many others were treated in a shameful manner by a shameful program of conservative idiocy, then called "American values". I mentioned in yesterday's comments regarding individuals that are willingly employed by corporations we love to hate, and some of them are responsible for the latest method of abusing the consumer (aka sleeping with the enemy). Hellman's anti-conservative views got her blackballed, to which she lost income, social acceptance, and had travel restrictions, plus being under surveillance. She made a choice and lived with the consequences...bravo to her and cohorts!

I've always liked Hellman's writings. They conjure the dark nature of humans winning their blood by villainous means, always left in cold, stank, isolation after their game has been won. Just like real life...LOL.

And here I go again with Ayn Rand. "Atlas Shrugged", for those that haven't read it, yet are willing to condemn the book, has some excellent prose denouncing censorship, authoritarianism, and "American values"...a government gone mad with restrictions and governance. Hellman's antagonist is the evil individual, Rand's is the corrupt official that desires to govern, eg Will H. Hays, Joseph McCarthy.

From Wiki:
"In the world of Atlas Shrugged, society stagnates when independent productive agencies are socially demonized for their accomplishments. This is in agreement with an excerpt from a 1964 interview with Playboy magazine, in which Rand states: 'What we have today is not a capitalist society, but a mixed economy — that is, a mixture of freedom and controls, which, by the presently dominant trend, is moving toward dictatorship. The action in Atlas Shrugged takes place at a time when society has reached the stage of dictatorship. When and if this happens, that will be the time to go on strike, but not until then'.

Rand also depicts public choice theory, such that the language of altruism is used to pass legislation nominally in the public interest (e.g., the 'Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog Rule', and 'The Equalization of Opportunity Bill'), but more to the short-term benefit of special interests and government agencies."

Twilight said...

mike ~ I don't think the heterosexual affair itself produced the legal challenge - I guess it was the complete loss of the two women's private school's business resulting from the gossip. To our sensibilities the reaction seems ridiculous, even had it been true, which it wasn't. Anyway, the story is a story, even though partly based on fact from the early 19th century. There's a long time-span involved with much change happening between factual event upon which the play and films were based: for the later movie - some 150 years.

I wasn't aware of Lillian Hellman before this - it's all a bit too 'Murican for me - the blacklisting, McCarthy era etc. I'm interested, but can't get too excited about it, other than blaming it all for the weak-kneed so-called left in this country! I'll be interested in seeing the new movie "Trumbo" when I get the chance. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trumbo_%282015_film%29

I'm not into Ayn Rand, as you'll likely remember. Just because she had the odd decent thought about stuff doesn't, still, endear her to me in general. ;-)

mike (again) said...

I first knew of "Trumbo" from "Charlie Rose"...Bryan Cranston was interviewed:

Last night's "Charlie Rose" presented the producer and an actor from "Son of Saul", which has won many awards:

The McCarthy era was horrible. I was born in 1950, and it flavored my first decade of existence. Conservative, conservative, conservative!!! The fear of being different, of being labeled unAmerican, or standing-out among the drab was a constant concern. As with "Trumbo", there was a tremendous price to be paid, should an individual stand-up to the inquisition. So many were thrown under the bus. Fortunately, the beatnik generation took control...LOL.

My friend that lost his wife to cancer 6 or 7 months ago called me this morning. After a period of chit-chat, The Donald was brought-up derisively by me. It was then disclosed that he is voting for Trump. WOW! Same guy that voted for Bush-the-Jr, solely because Bush was offering tax breaks.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Thanks for the C. Rose link - watched the Bryan Cranston segment - very good! Cranston's a very good speaker on this showing - presumably this was off-the-cuff, unscripted. Of course he's been steeped in his subjects (Trumbo and LBJ for months or years so would be well prepared). I doubt we'll get the movie in our town, maybe Lawton - it's released early February, I shall watch for it.

I hadn't read about the "Son of Saul" movie. It's one we should all see, but I'm feeling squeamish already. Haven't watched the link yet. It has 93% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes while "Trumbo has only 70%.

Trumbo had Sun in Sag. with Mars & Saturn in Aquarius, Moon & Jupiter in Taurus.

Oh dear! A Trump voter surfaces...I suspect there'll be many in Texas and quite a few in Okie land, though the Dog-botherers amon 'em will be keener on Cruz or Rubio I suppose.

mike (again) said...

Trumbo wrote "Johnny Got His Gun" (1939), then directed the movie (1971):

"Although Johnny Got His Gun was a minor success at the time of its release, it was largely forgotten soon after by mass audiences. While it is well known that Jimmy Carter required all his new State cabinet members to view the film shortly after his election as Georgia governor in 1971, the film became far better known when it was incorporated in the video of Metallica's song 'One', whose popularity subsequently turned Johnny Got His Gun into a cult film. Eventually, the members of Metallica bought the rights to the film in order to keep showing their music video without routinely paying royalties fees."

I've only viewed a handful of his movies, but after reading the plot of "Johnny Got His Gun", I'll have to see it. It's available on youtube for free, so I'll watch it on Roku's youtube channel.

Trumbo has several aspects that could make him an independent (and ostracized!): Sun opposed Pluto; Venus, Jupiter, Saturn T-square, with Saturn conjunct S Node; Mercury conjunct Uranus, both opposed Neptune; Sun sextile Mars, both in weak yod with Neptune. Saturn on the S Node is a difficult aspect, often presenting the individual with outer, major challenges to overcome through diligence and perseverance over a long duration.

His Wiki page states, "Though an anarchist, Dalton Trumbo aligned himself with the Communist Party in the United States before the 1940s...". Anarchist is a strong descriptive of Trumbo, but his astrology would support that term. Wiki doesn't substantiate the use of that particular word to describe him.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ I didn't know of "Johnny Got His Gun" - read the Wiki page just now - thanks for the link. Oh!! I'm not sure I could stomach that movie - it was even hard to read the detail and imagine! If you watch it, do let me know what you think of it.

Thanks for the points about Trumbo's astrology. He was a very strong character - would have made a good president in some dystopian or utopian world. :-) Although he sided with communism then, in those circumstances, I wonder how he'd view the scene today. I'm looking forward to seeing the movie, anyway, when an opportunity arises.