These Three

From Spanking Art

These Three is an American drama film from 1936, directed by William Wyler. The screenplay by Lillian Hellman is based on her 1934 play The Children's Hour.

Synopsis[edit]

Spoiler warning


Following graduation, college friends Karen Wright and Martha Dobie transform Karen's Massachusetts farm into a boarding school with the assistance of wealthy benefactor Amelia Tilford, who enrolls her malevolent granddaughter Mary. Karen and local doctor Joe Cardin begin to date, unaware Martha is in love with him.

Complications arise when Martha's aunt Lily Mortar comes for a visit. One evening, Joe falls asleep in a chair in Martha's room while waiting for Karen to return to the school, leading Lily to jump to the wrong conclusion. When she and Martha quarrel, Lily decides to leave, but not before confronting her niece with her suspicions about the young woman's true feelings for Joe.

Martha discovers Rosalie Wells listening at the door and accidentally closes it on her arm, slightly injuring her. When Mary finds a missing bracelet that belongs to another student among Rosalie's things, she forces her into revealing what she overheard outside Martha's room. Mary, who harbors a pathological hatred for her teachers, then tells her grandmother a grossly distorted version of the argument between Martha and Lily, suggesting Martha and Joe engaged in an illicit sexual affair, and she coerces Rosalie into verifying the story by threatening to reveal her theft of the bracelet. Mrs. Tilford is shocked by the revelation and has all the parents withdraw their daughters from the school, leaving Martha and Karen mystified.

When one of the girls's chauffeurs tells the women the reason behind the mass exodus, they confront Mrs. Tilford. Terrified her theft will be revealed, Rosalie insists the story is true. Martha and Karen sue Mrs. Tilford for libel but lose their case when Lily fails to testify on their behalf. She later claims she assumed her corroboration was unnecessary.

Although the women have been humiliated and Joe has been dismissed from the hospital due to the scandal, the three hope to repair the damage to their lives, but Karen and Joe go their separate ways when she confesses she believes the story Mary told. Martha admits to Karen she loves Joe but assures her she never told him.

Martha decides to leave with Lily, who later mentions the missing bracelet. Realizing what happened, Martha confronts Rosalie and convinces her to reveal the truth. Aware of the wrong she has committed, Mrs. Tilford offers Martha compensation, but Martha asks only that she tell Karen the truth and urge her to reunite with Joe.

The spanking scene[edit]

As a punishment for repeated lying, Mary is told she will be grounded for a few days. Upon hearing this, she complains about being maltreated in this school, followed by a faked heart attack and fainting. Doctor Cardin is called. He examines her, finding that the girl is in fine health. He tells Martha that the girl's "heart attack" was faked.

Mary, redressed, comes out of the room. (0:39:45)

Doctor Cardin, ironically: "Well — how does it feel to be back from the grave?"
Mary, sullen: "It's my heart and it hurts."
Doctor Cardin, shrugging: "Science has failed." (to Martha:) "Try a hairbrush."

Martha tells Mary that she'll have to separate her from her roommates and put her in a different room. Mary throws a tantrum and herself on a couch. She buries her face in a cushion to muffle her own screams, kicking her legs. Doctor Cardin picks up his doctor's bag from the couch. As he leaves, he gives the screaming Mary a single solid smack on her bottom (0:40:41, M/f). Mary responds by rearing up and crying out at full volume. Doctor Cardin leaves without another word. Mary throws the cushion after him. She knocks over a table and vase with a kick, then leaves as well. Her roommates witnessed all of this, and Rosalie is deeply shocked.

Near the end of the movie (1:25:50), after she hears how Mary blackmailed and manipulated Rosalie, causing all this disaster, Mary's grandmother asks her housemaid to take Mary up to her room and lock it. At the base of the stairs, Mary resists, and the housemaid slaps her face once, then guides her up.

See also[edit]

Links[edit]

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