Friday, June 26, 2009

Know your lgbt history - The Killing of Sister George

I've had several requests for this movie.

The Killing of Sister George is one of the most controversial lgbt-oriented movies ever made.

It told the story of June Buckridge, an actress who loses her lover, Alice "Childie" McNaught and her job as the lovable matronly figure on a BBC soap opera because she is in reality a hard drinking coarse lesbian who will not compromise her life.

Sister George was originally a play written by Frank Marcus in 1964. Interestingly enough, the entire play took place in Buckridge's and McNaught's apartment, there are only four characters, and the word lesbian is never uttered. The relationship between Buckridge and McNaught is only hinted at.

The motion picture, created in 1968, took a lot of liberties, including creating new scenes (like the one below in a lesbian pub), adding new characters, and emphasizing the relationship between Buckridge and Childie as that of a lesbian nature.

The biggest change had to be the make up of the character Mery Croft, the BBC executive who has to give Buckridge the news of her dismissal as well as the one who "steals" McNaught away from her.

In the play, her orientation is hinted. In the movie, it's clear due to a controversial sex scene between her and McNaught. The sex scene led the movie to be rated X (I kid you not - it is shockingly steamy).

The actress who played McNaught in the movie (Susannah York) had a very hard time with scene and gave the actress who played Croft (Coral Browne) a hard time. There were times that York even rushed from the set in tears. She finally did the scene after alleged repeated threats regarding her job in the movie industry by the director Robert Aldrich.

Here is another interesting backstory - Bette Davis supposedly wanted to play Buckridge. Angela Lansbury was asked to play her but refused. The part went to British comedian Beryl Reid, who portrayed Buckridge in the play and won a Tony for it.

I'm divided by this movie. I enjoyed everything about it (except for the sad ending) but I felt conflicted by the characters. I think I was supposed to feel sorry for Buckridge but I don't. She did cause her own problems by her behavior, which was at times very bullying and highly brash.

And the character of Mercy Croft was supposed to come across as an in-the-closet monster but I don't know. As much as I wanted, I couldn't totally dislike her. Particularly in the last scene where she goes verbally toe-to-toe with Buckridge and annihilates her (I have her speech memorized. It's one of the most vicious verbal smackdowns I have ever seen), she does come across as slightly distasteful but you have a grudging admiration for her.

Despite her proper manners, Mercy is not someone you would fuck with.

Anyway, judge for yourself by the two clips I have included; one in the lesbian club and the other with the controversial sex scene between York and Browne and the climax with Browne's total verbal destruction of Reid.

This movie deserves a remake with a happier ending:

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David L Rattigan said...

Moo. Moo. Moo.

BlackTsunami said...

I know. wasn't that stupid. lol

Bill S said...

Still haven't seen it, though it's one of those flicks I've known about forever.
Would the remake have to have a British cast? I could see it Americanized-maybe with Kathy Bates as June, Michelle Williams as Alice, and Annette Bening as Mery Croft.
Have you considered doing as post on the 1961 movie "Victim"? I think it was influential in changing the sodomy laws in England. (I COULD be wrong about this.)

BlackTsunami said...

Dirk Bogarde, right? I'm still looking for it.