George lives with her lover, Childie and plays a cheerful district nurse in a BBC soap opera. However, her character is to be killed off, and George realises that the only other job she can get is the voice of a cow in a children's tv programme. Her life begins to fall apart as Childie has an affair with a predatory tv producer.Written by
Paul Baker <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Frank Marcus's play was inspired by a real-life incident which attracted much media attention in Britain in the early 1960s. A radio soap opera, "Mrs. Dale's Diary", had been running since the 1940s when the BBC suddenly decided to replace the leading actors and move the setting to a new town, with new supporting characters. The actress who had played Mrs. Dale for so long, Ellis Powell, never recovered from this career blow and died relatively soon afterwards, mostly as a result of alcoholism. See more »
Seeing Beryl Reid mouth silently a four-letter swear word when such things didn't happen in films and drunkenly canoodling with two young nuns in the back of a London cab is both quite outstanding and rather lovable.
Miss Reid, who I only got to see in my childhood as a twee, granny-like innocent (the sort that she plays for real in a TV serial as Sister George, a homely district nurse), I found The Killing Of... both delicious and ever astounding in its frankness and of her rather warped relationship with the much younger Susannah York.
Warped, not because of the age difference, nor of their same-sex partnership, but because June Buckridge (Reid) has a cruel streak that is borne out by her playing sadistic mind games with Alice "Childie" (York).
Sister George, in the best tradition of TV soaps, is being killed off, to make way for an Australian replacement. Hence June's venomous outpourings and increasingly erratic behaviour.
Equally interesting is the London of the late '60s, both in its landmarks but also its people and fashions, whether that's in how they live and/or how they dress and present themselves.
Though real soaps cover such material freely and openly these days, 42 years ago, it must have been a very different kettle of fish. Lesbianism back in those days was not only considered immoral but also a mental aberration and had to be so hidden, in an attempt to prove to those 'righteous' souls that it did not exist. Therefore, it must have been a very brave undertaking as a film, though it originated as a play, written by Frank Marcus.
Having now seen it again, I consider Robert Aldrich's ground-breaking film to be a bit of a classic and one, which, no doubt I'll want to see again in a few years time. It really is a piece of British cinematic history.
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