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 The Killing of Sister George, Sex Scene
bmartin
Posted: Mar 1 2005, 07:23 PM


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Coral had an uncomfortable time filming the sex scene in this film as she later recalled in the documentary CAVIAR TO THE GENERAL. Susannah York kept eating grapes to ward off sickness! Before signing the contract, Coral had been asked by a journalist if she minded having to do a lesbian scene in the movie. "Not if the price is right dear" she drawled. When the director Robert Aldrich asked Coral if she had any qualms about the sex scene she replied: "Darling, I'll eat through the mattress if you don't shout CUT!"
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mjansen
Posted: Jan 20 2006, 07:41 PM


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A new review of "The Killing of Sister George" DVD:

One might say that identity is the most precious thing that a person has. Pity, then, the actor or actress who becomes so identified with a role that it is inseparable from him or her. It's not just a question of typecasting, but a blurring of the lines between the public and the private that can do damage to the psyche, while still providing a certain grounding, even if it is false. That conflict is at the bottom of this 1968 classic from director Robert Aldrich.

June Buckridge (Beryl Reid) has been portraying nurse "Sister George" on the soap opera Applehurst for years, and has become utterly identified with the character; even her lover Alice (Susannah York) calls her 'George,' as do her friends and colleagues. But when George starts getting hints that her character may be written out of the show, she reacts badly, dissolving into drink and furious rages. Things aren't any better when she also begins to suspect that Alice is the object of pursuit of several men and also Mercy Croft (Coral Browne), one of the BBC executives in charge of the program.

It's a great opportunity for an actress, and Reid seizes the part with both hands. She lets out all the stops from rage and pathos to childlike affection and sadistic cruelty. Aldrich had explored lesbianism before in such films as Sodom and Gomorrah (1962) and furiously berserk older actresses in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane (1964), but the combination of the two here is pretty powerful. The pairing with York works exceedingly well, as she portrays Alice (called 'Childie' by George) with an infantile air, selfish and willful, while also being somewhat pathetic herself, obsessing over her massive doll collection. Browne, the third leg of the stool, gives a hilariously arch performance that almost sounds like she's imitating future husband Vincent Price.

One can see Aldrich trying to broaden the subject matter of the cinema in his exceedingly frank depiction of lesbian culture and not flinching from the dark side of human relationships. George and Alice have a relationship based almost entirely on cruelties, though they also have trouble functioning apart from each other. It's twisted but certainly intriguing. George's booziness makes for some enjoyable sequences, such as a taxicab assault on two nuns that gets her in Dutch with the BBC. The raunchy and bitchy reality is in stark contrast to the sickeningly sweet character that she plays, making her public eruptions all the more horrifying to those around her.

At its heart, the film is about the dissolution of George's personality as her character is taken away from her; her relationship with Childie simultaneously starts to decay as Mrs. Croft takes advantage of the situation and George descends further into drink and beings committing outrage after outrage. The sequence in which George and Childie play Laurel and Hardy is key; not only did they also have a relationship based on cruelties, but they were also utterly identified with their characters. Notwithstanding her various issues, Reid makes George a sympathetic monster, and the finale is quite moving. It still holds up exceedingly well after nearly 40 years, thanks to the strength of the three leads.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-

By Mark Zimmer
From:Digitally Obsessed
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mjansen
Posted: Sep 11 2007, 08:08 PM


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Lesbian Sex Scenes that Made Movie History
by Christie Keith
September 9, 2007

The Fox (1968)

This adaptation of D. H. Lawrence's novel, starring Sandy Dennis and Anne Heywood as doomed lesbian lovers (of course), was actually considered steamy when it was made, although it doesn't have anything you could call a sex scene in it. But The Fox did make the sexual nature of the women's relationship a central focus of the film more so than the novel, in fact.

The Killing of Sister George (1968)

The Killing of Sister George is an iconic lesbian film starring Beryl Reid as June Buckridge, an actress who plays a beloved character on a British television show, and a luscious young Susannah York as her girl toy, Childie McNaught. Childie is stolen away by sophisticated lesbian lady killer Mercy Croft (Coral Browne), leaving June without job, lover or future.

Filmmaker Robert Aldrich was determined to make the lesbianism in the film as explicit as possible. In the Celluloid Closet, Vito Russo quoted him as saying, "the picture had to play out the betrayal, and the story itself is so genteel, it's possible you could be sitting in Sheboygan and the film could be so 'well done' that nobody would know that the hell you were talking about."

Russo then recounted how infamously homophobic critic Pauline Kael complained at the time that lesbians "don't really do anything, after all," adding, "I always thought that was why lesbians needed sympathy because there isn't much they can do." Ironically, when she saw the sex scene from Sister George, she entitled her review "Frightening the Horses." Some people are never happy.

The sex scene was cut from the film for its release in a number of American cities, but even with that cut, the film was given the problematic and new at the time "X" rating on theme alone; Aldrich's offer to make further cuts to get an "R" rating was rejected. One year later, Midnight Cowboy, also rated "X" for its gay themes, won the Oscar for best picture.

From:After Ellen
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