20 Jul 2014


Films have formulas and rules, but how well do films follow those formulas?  What about Lesbian Romance films, do they follows a strict formula and a set of rules?

The Children's Hour is the story of two women who are just starting to establish a successful boarding school for girls when it all falls apart over rumours that they are lesbians stared by a spoilt child.

The following analysis may contain spoilers for


"There's nothing wrong with people having secrets." ~ Mrs Tilford.

RULE #1 - A Coming Out Story

Karen Wright is the slightly more feminine of the two.  Martha says that Karen is "Fifth Avenue" and needs to be kept up.
The story isn't just from Karen's point of view, but rather shared between Karen, Martha and other characters, especially the child Mary.

RULE #2 - There May Be T&A

Not in 1961.

RULE #3 - Unsatisfied

Karen becomes engaged to Dr Joe Cardin after dating for two years.  She doesn't seem unsatisfied with the relationship at all.  The length of the relationship prior to engagement is explained by the fact that Karen was waiting for the school to become established.  When Karen suggest to Joe that they get married she specifically mentions having kids a year later.
She does push Joe away and doesn't end up with him, but it is not clear what that means about her sexuality.

RULE #4 - Enter the Lesbian

Martha Dobie doesn't have an interest in young men.  She has shorter hair and is a "skirt and blouse character" although she points out those are always in style.  Martha finally admits that she loves Karen and that believes of herself that "there's always been something wrong."
Martha eventually realises that she is gay and why she has been unsatisfied all along.
Some references to Martha being a lesbian didn't make the final cut due to being banned by the Hays Code.

RULE #5 - Just Good Friends

Karen & Martha have been friends since they were 17 and in college.

RULE #6 - Rejection By Friends and Family

The entire film is about the rejection of Karen and Martha and the collapse of their school based on the rumour that they are homosexual.
Throughout the whole thing Joe stands by the pair, even at a personal cost, but Karen pushes him away.

RULE #7 - Will They, Won't They/On Again, Off Again

In the film there is only the claim of a relationship and Karen's engagement would probably end any relationship that had or would happen.  Who knows what would have happened if they went away together.

RULE #8 - Redemption/Acceptance

Eventually the truth of the lie is discovered (after Martha discovers her own sexuality).  Karen accepts Martha and asks her to come away with her.

RULE #9 - Happily Ever After?

Martha commits suicide.  That's pretty high on the no happily ever after scale.

RULE #10 - No Sequels

No sequels.  The play had been turned into a film previously as These Three, but with a love triangle and the lesbian references removed.


  • Rules that are followed in this film:  5, 6, 9, 10.
  • Rules that are partially followed in this film:  1, 2, 4, 8.
  • Rules that are not followed in this film:  3, 7.
~ DUG.
Remember to do the survey to determine the fourth genre to be tested.
Check out the schedule for upcoming Film Rules films to be reviewed.
Also a question for the comments...  Do people prefer the alternating between 2 sets of rules or would they like to see one set finished before the next starts?

No comments:

Post a Comment