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The Children's Hour [Blu-ray]
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: The Mirisch Corporation
Video: Kino Lorber
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 22,334,523,264 bytes
Feature Size: 21,956,757,504 bytes
Video Bitrate: 24.00 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: August 12th, 2014
Aspect ratio: 1.66:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1575 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1575 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
• Trailer (1:53)
Description: A child's lie has life-shattering consequences in this daring adaptation of Lillian Hellman's celebrated play. Screen legends Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine and James Garner star in this landmark film that is one of the most finely wrought dramas in the history of the screen (Motion Picture Herald). Karen (Hepburn) and Martha (MacLaine) are the headmistresses of an exclusive school for girls. When they discipline a malicious little girl, the vindictive child twists an overheard comment into slander and accuses her teachers of questionable behavior. Soon the scandalous gossip engulfs the school's community, with repercussions that are swift, crushing... and tragic. Produced and Directed by William Wyler (Ben-Hur) and co-starring Miriam Hopkins, Fay Bainter and Veronica Cartwright. Nominated for 5 Academy Awards® including Best Supporting Actress (Bainter).
Based on the 1934 play by Lillian Hellman, The Children's Hour is set at an exclusive girl's school managed by best friends Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine. When student Karen Balkin is punished for one of her many misdeeds, the mean-spirited youngster rushes to her wealthy aunt Fay Bainter, and, randomly choosing a phrase she has undoubtedly read in some magazine, accuses Hepburn and MacLaine of having an "unnatural relationship." As Balkin's lies grow in viciousness, the student's parents withdraw their children from the school. Hepburn and MacLaine sue Bainter for libel, only to lose their case when MacLaine's aunt Miriam Hopkins refuses to testify as a character witness. The trial takes its toll on the relationship between Hepburn and her boyfriend James Garner. When Bainter discovers that her niece has been lying, she tries to make amends, but it is too late. Director William Wyler had also helmed the first film version of Children's Hour, 1936's These Three, which due to censorship restrictions of the time did without the lesbian angle (the little girl's accusations involved a supposed romantic triangle between the two ladies and a male friend). Miriam Hopkins, who plays a supporting role in The Children's Hour, originally essayed the Shirley MacLaine role in These Three.
"Child, love, friend, woman- every word has a new meaning" muses Karen Wright (Audrey Hepburn) in The Children's Hour (1961), after a cruel rumor ignited by a malevolent little girl destroys her life and livelihood, as well as that of her friend Martha Dobie (Shirley MacLaine). Hepburn and MacLaine deliver deft, gripping performances as teachers who may or may not be "unnaturally" in love. Flinty eyed Karen Balkin plays rotten little Mary Tilford, a manipulative, hysterical, extortionist schoolgirl. Eavesdropping on allusions made behind closed doors, Mary manufactures a lie to convince her grandmother to take her out of The Wright-Dobie School for Girls, where she is disliked. Mary is flesh-crawlingly mean, and the repercussions caused by her fib move the plot of The Children's Hour to a somber, thought provoking conclusion.Excerpt from TCM located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The Children's Hour has come to Blu-ray from Kino/Lorber. The 1.66:1 image looks consistent and clean. This is single-layered with a supportive bitrate and contrast shows some pleasing layers and impressive detail. There is a tightness with a bit of depth but no unnatural gloss. The SD was quite acceptable as I recall - but this advances notably in the higher resolution without any noise. Pretty solid overall. This Blu-ray does a decent job in the video transfer.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
The DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1575 kbps does a competent job of exporting the film's modest sound requirements. Mucho kudos to the score by the great Alex North (Viva Zapata, Spartacus, Man With the Gun, A Streetcar Named Desire and more.) The audio here is subject to the production source which is quite stable and this is probably as good as it will get. There are few effects requiring support. There are optional English subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
Only a trailer.
August 1st, 2014
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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