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SUSANNAH YORK IN 'THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE' W/ BERYL REID

Title: THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE Year: 1968 Rating: ***

After director Robert Aldrich exploded with THE DIRTY DOZEN he returned to an independent style melodrama in the fashion of WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE although THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE is really a hybrid of STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE and DEATH OF A SALESMAN but in this case the saleswoman's an actress fearing the possible death of her fictional character from a long-running British soap, and it all sounds like Aldrich's BIG KNIFE style parody of insider's show business...

Yet most of SISTER GEORGE centers on a gorgeous blonde childlike, doll-collecting Susannah York, the titular starlet's lover, and their bickering, apartment-dwelling scenes, ranging from the middle-aged has-been played by middle-aged firebrand Beryl Reid, wielding mind games, making her lover literally eat cigar tips or threatening to behead one of her beloved antique dolls... 

Susannah York in THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE

Yet with all her selfish venom, Reid brings enough sympathy to the role, one she transferred second-nature from the stage.. Even the people in her life call her "George" instead of June Buckridge... 

But her real name that hardly matters being so immersed in her day-job that she fears losing, providing anticipatory suspense through the "kitchen sink" dramatics...

Susannah York in THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE with Coral Browne

But the sexiest, most provocative scenes occur without "George" around at all... towards the end when blunt and initially seemingly straight studio agent Coral Browne seduces Susannah York's vulnerable, fitfully nicknamed 'Childie' (who she had hear eyes on all along) in a lesbian sex scene that caused Aldrich's stock composer to Frank DeVol to quit, replaced by Gerald Fried, veteran of early Kubrick films and probably inclined to more art-house ventures...

Yet KILLING goes beyond pushing the envelope, and would have made a more legendary mark in gay/lesbian cinema had it been less stagey and not so tremendously overlong.  

Susannah York in THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE
Susannah York in THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE with Beryl Reid
Susannah York in THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE
Susannah York in THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE
Susannah York in THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE
Sivi Aberg in THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE and some fat guy
Beryl Reid in THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE
Susannah York in THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE
Beryl Reid in THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE
Susannah York peaks into THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE
Beryl Reid on the show within the show in THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE
Susannah York in THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE with Coral Browne and Beryl Reid
Beryl Reid in THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE
Susannah York in THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE with Coral Browne
Susannah York in THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE with Coral Browne
Susannah York with near-future lover Colar Browne in THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE
Susannah York in THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE

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