Robert Aldrich, director

The Killing of Sister George (1968)

One-Sheet Movie Poster

Fresh off of the success of The Dirty Dozen (1967), Robert Aldrich used his status as a profitable director to found his own studio in 1968.  His first project was The Killing of Sister George, based on a play by Frank Marcus.  Aldrich’s cinematic rendering of lesbian lifestyles contained raw displays of Sapphic sexuality, including one notorious scene of lesbian lovemaking that led to the film being banned in some locations. Aldrich did not shy away from the movie’s lesbian themes in the advertising, either. The poster includes three women situated in the shape of a (love) triangle, with two of the women leering at the third. The tag line, “The Story of Three Consenting Adults In The Privacy Of Their Own Home,” also seems to confront the content of the film. 

Note the use of the eye-catching drawing on the poster that seems to form both the face of a woman as well as the body of a nude woman.  Such optical illusion drawings were often used in advertising materials for lesbian-themed films in this period. The detail of this illustration also caused some controversy, leading some newspapers to refuse to reproduce the drawing in advertisements.  As a result, a "cleaned up version" of the illustration was created.

Comparison of the original illustration for

The Killing of Sister George (left) and the

edited version of the illustration (right)

ATime magazine article from May 30, 1969 notes that in some markets, such as Chicago, the advertising image was cleaned up even further, making the optical illusion difficult to detect.

Image appearing in the New York Times

Image appearing in Chicago Papers

 

By the time the film ended production, the MPAA’s new ratings system had taken effect, resulting in the film receiving an “X.”  Due to theaters’ resistance to screening “X” fare, the rating killed the film’s commercial potential.

 

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