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Monday, June 15, 2015

Video Beaverhausen: Gay Pride with Sister George

Rated X, I could only see The Killing of Sister George with an adult parent or guardian. It was released and 1969 and I talked my mom into taking me. She knew I was 17, not going to be a lesbian, but brought along my stepfather so her own sexuality wasn't in doubt. She also told the box-office lady I was 18 (legal age then).

This movie was directed by What Ever Happened to Baby Jane's Robert Aldrich. It has an expert British cast. Beryl Reid was nominated for a Golden Globe as June Buckridge (Sister George). Bette Davis told Aldrich she wanted to assay the part but he declined. Oh, to see Bette as George and maybe, even, Joan Crawford in the Coral Browne (later to be Vincent Price's wife) role! Though I doubt Joan would play with gorgeous Susannah York's titty (at least not in a film).

That moment made my mom put her hand over my eyes. She was not expecting such explicitness.

Like The Boys in the Band, this film was ground-breaking but also a reflection of the sexual repression of its time.

The film's name comes from the fact that Ms Reid's character plays a nurse on a popular daytime soap opera and is about to be bumped off (she's difficult on the set), leaving her unemployed. Bravely released by MGM and Palomar Pictures, and in Metrocolor!

The movie is beautifully adapted from, frankly, a messy play, and the acting is superb. Reid and York each drink too much, the latter home all day in baby-doll clothes. Long a director of men's films, Aldrich turned a corner with Baby Jane and Sister George only continues his foray into women's films. Like Jane, George is about same-sex domination and submission.

Ms. Browne makes a fabulous diva entrance late into the film. It's a bit of a long haul at over 2 and 1/2 hours, but worth all the drama. And the strikingly daring, baring climax still astounds. Drama!

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