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.
For its time, The Killing of Sister George was a groundbreaking film – and one of the first films in history to be released with an 'X' rating in the United States – a fact which no doubt impacted its first-run boxoffice total.The film centers around the soon-to-be-ending television career of June Buckridge (Beryl Reed) – a staple of a long-running British soap opera based in a bucolic and idyllic English countryside town called 'Applehurst'. On that series, she plays a motor-scooter-riding jack-of-all-trades (nanny, health provider, sage, best friend) – a feisty yet lovable and omnipresent voice of reason in the small town.Fiercely protective of her career and her character, she is equally fierce and protective of her live-in lover, 'Alice' (or 'Childie' as she is 'affectionately' called by her lover) (Susannah York) – a much younger, more nubile, and therefore more unstable presence in her life. Outwardly a simpleton – but possessing enough cunning to know where her future prospects lie, Alice is kept on a short leash by her 'master' – a fact made clear in a near-bondage scene in which June punishes her for a perceived slight by forcing her to kneel on the floor and consume her used cigar butt. (In a classic psychological moment of role reversal, Childie suddenly goes from grimacing while chewing the cigar butt to pretending that the experience is a pleasurable one – mimicking orgasm as she chows down on the rancid tobacco leaves. Of course, this spoils the effect for June (or 'George' as she is affectionately called.Problems develop when a drunken George enters a taxi and molests 2 Catholic nuns. In response to complaints to her station by the local Archbishop, George is visited by Mrs. Croft (Corale Brown) – a tightly-wound and prissy woman who holds George's future in her hands. She informs George that her future is 'dependent' upon her contrition and apology to the nuns involved – as well as a general change in her attitude towards her coworkers and her director. Mrs. Croft also appears to hit it off with Childie, encouraging her to continue in her ambition to become a poet.George's problems continue as we learn that Childie is likely seeing other people on the side – one of them her supposedly young and virile boss – AND misleading George as to her relationship with a local female prostitute who lives across the street. Unable to get honest answers to her questions, George flies into frequent drunken rages – her behavior spilling over into her deportment at work. Frustrated, she is 'written out' of the series for 2 weeks in order to have time to consider her actions and reign in her behavior.Her world begins to crumble when she and Childie attend a party at a local lesbian bar – and Mrs. Croft is sent there to discuss her future on the series. When told that her days in Applehurst are numbered and that she is to die by being 'hit by a delivery truck', she snaps – turning her frustration on both Childie (whom she secretly checks up on behind her back) and her coworkers (whose performances she tries to sabotage on her last day of filming). Discovering that Childie has been lying to her repeatedly (her boss is NOT young and virile, but old and balding – AND she has been talking to Mrs. Croft behind George's back), George explodes at her closing cast party. She confronts Mrs. Croft and Childie both – driving them out of the celebration.Back at the apartment, Childie is persuaded to move out and to live with Mrs. Croft 'temporarily' while she decides her future direction in life. Subtly, slyly, Mrs. Croft maneuvers Childie to the bedroom – then to her bed – and seduces her. Caught by George, there is a final scene in which all parties vent their frustrations to the fullest. Left alone and unemployed, George can only wander among her acting props, desolate, and abandoned.