Did you know that with his 1961 hit THE CHILDREN’S HOUR, director William Wyler was merely remaking a 1936 drama called THESE THREE?
I didn’t, and I thought I knew everything about the various dramatizations of Pirie and Woods v Gordon, the 1811 Scottish trial that underpins my screenplay SCOTCH VERDICT.
Lillian Hellman wrote the script for THESE THREE, working for Goldwyn Pictures the princely sum of $2,500 a week, according to Wikipedia. That was her reward for the celebrity that came with 691 performances of the 1934 Broadway hit, The Children’s Hour, from which both screenplays were adapted.
Here is a link to an interview of Hellman in The Paris Review that gives a sense of what meaning she gleaned from the trial. In her misanthropy, colored by some pretty obvious prejudices, I think in many ways Hellman completely missed the point.
I think Lillian Faderman’s excellent history, Scotch Verdict, does a much better job. It’s a book I highly recommend from one of America’s leading authorities on lesbian history. Buy the reissued book here from Amazon. But don’t make the mistake of thinking my filmed version would be anything like that, either.
My sexy, ghostly screenplay SCOTCH VERDICT offers a completely different take on the true story of a case so crooked, it was the last time in Scottish history that defendants had to undergo a trial before a tribunal of male justices.
It’s up for best screenplay at the Richmond International Film Festival later this month. Wish me luck, and see you on the red carpet March 2nd. Tickets are still on sale here.
(P.S. I’m also looking forward to Friday night’s screening, followed by a Q&A, at the Virginia Historical Society. Exploring the 2012 protests against an abortion bill by Virginian women in Richmond, Christopher Englese’s feature documentary POLITICAL BODIES asks, “Why is women’s health being politicized?” My wife Amy Gerber made an award winning short film on the same subject–only hers was a forward thinking comedy called ASS BACKWARDS, shot entirely through the backup camera of a Toyota Prius. Gotta laugh. Check it out.)