The film "These Three" is inspired by the hit play "The Children's Hour." After watching the film “These Three” and learning that the Hays Code forced major changes, I decided to read the play. For me, the differences in dialogue, etc. were small, but the major theme and atmosphere were starkly different. “These Three” was like a fairy tale with a standard romance, a temporary setback, and then some of the main characters living happily thereafter, as if nothing happened. The play, on the other hand, was a portrait of intolerance leading to the destruction of lives and relationships. The Hays Code demanded that Lesbianism be completely omitted from the film. I thought the whole idea of the play was to expose the damage done by the bigotry against Lesbianism. Only people in the big cities like New York and London where the play ran for more than two years would ever know the true message of the play.
Despite the use of homosexuality as trigger to drive someone to ruin, Hellman's play delivers a strong message about kindness and righteousness. Surely groundbreaking for its time, it feels slightly awkward, yet still sadly relevant today.
The writing and characterization are excellent, although the shock value of "eek, a lesbian!" has thankfully abated over the years. The absolute truth revealed here - that people can be vicious, and not thoroughly think through the consequences of their actions - unfortunately remains relevant.
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