Thursday, March 15, 2018

True Blue (Part II of II)


"A Murder Thriller with Thrilling Bodies!" THE PLAYBIRDS provided Britain's premier 70s sexpot Mary Millington with her most substantial part.

BECAUSE of the unfathomable financial success of COME PLAY WITH ME, executive producer David Sullivan quickly announced his next venture, with lover Mary Millington taking on a more sizable role. Proclaiming the follow-up would be the "hottest film ever to be screened in Britain," THE PLAYBIRDS is actually an overblown exercise in self-promotion, but does capture the tawdry aspects of 70s Soho amongst its car chases and bombastic theme tune. Belonging to a genre of British film that rejoice in the psychopathic killing of models (COVER GIRL KILLERPEEPING TOM et al), Harry Dougan (Alan Lake, as an on-screen persona of Sullivan) is a racehorse-owning millionaire glamour publisher, who starts a series of supernatural-themed spreads that has attracted a deranged killer (who the press term "The Chopper.") After dispatching two ladies of sexploitation royalty (Pat Astley and Suzy Mandel), the murderer becomes involved in a cat-and-mouse game against Scotland Yard's finest (Glynn Edwards and Gavin Campbell, with Millington as undercover WPC Lucy Sheridan).

The in joke of pouring a 4'11" porn non-actress into a Police uniform - especially one as harassed by the law as Millington - is quickly forgotten as Sheridan is more at home to her new assignment than somnambulantly delivering dialogue at cop shop meetings. Developing her talents as a sauna prostitute, Lucy soon has a lesbian fling and sleeps with Dougan to achieve her goal to become a Playbirds centrefold. Regardless of the film being moulded as a Mary vehicle, the real actress with sex appeal here is Mandel: it was no mistake that she shared equal space on Tom Chantrell's eye-popping posters of COME PLAY WITH ME and THE PLAYBIRDS alongside her more illustrious colleague. The cherubic Mandel could actually deliver her lines with a knowing twinkle, and was a mainstay of 70s smut in this country until she emigrated to the United States. If you actually care about the murder investigation you have a variety of suspects beyond Dougan, but the final "shock ending" will leave no one satisfied.

The start of a stormy union: Diana Dors and third husband Alan Lake on their Wedding Day, November 1968. In 1972 after his release from prison, Lake broke his back during a horse riding accident, starting a descent into alcoholic violence and eventual gunshot suicide.

The following year Sullivan attempted to cash-in on the CONFESSIONS name with CONFESSIONS FROM THE DAVID GALAXY AFFAIR, another Roldvale production distributed by Tigon. Lake gives one of the most self-indulgent lead performances in British film history as the titular super stud astrologer, who may - or may not - have been involved in a Securicor robbery five years previous. Behind his sparkling medallion, large lapels and annoyingly knowing swagger, Lake regularly breaks into a series of excruciating impressions (embracing anyone from Basil Rathbone to Bruce Forsyth, and anything from racism to homophobia), and also breaks wind in one jaw-dropping love-making scene. Despite this goggle-eyed eccentricity, Galaxy is still irresistible to women, refers to his penis as Fido, and sleeps with the entire female cast except for real-life wife Diana Dors, who plays the new owner of his apartment block.

In new levels of cinematic tedium, there is endless offering and pouring of drinks (often involving the police, tokenly fronted again by Glynn Edwards) but the film is saved from total disposability by the appearances of Rosemary England (Miss Beauty Bust) and - in a subplot incidental to the main narrative - Mary Millington (high society heiress Millicent Cumming). Never having experienced orgasm, Cumming hooks up with Galaxy in a multi-positional sequence played out against the astrologer's mirrored headboard. Despite this lengthy scene being one of the most explicit in a British sex comedy - one press release even insinuated that Lake and Millington actually had intercourse, much to Dors' disgust - the picture was a box office and critical disaster.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

True Blue (Part I of II)


Translating the German Bohrlock ('borehole', 'blast-hole') was too difficult for most British porn fans; the film consequently enjoyed a variety of alternative titles such as MISS BAWLOCK and even MISS BOLLOCK.

BRITAIN's sex superstar of the saucy 70s, Mary Millington's girl-next-door demeanor actually encompassed everything from magazine cover girl to hardcore actress. An outspoken opponent of the Obscene Publications Act, she also starred - often fleetingly - in British sex comedies, including COME PLAY WITH ME, which holds the record of the longest-ever theatrical booking in domestic cinema history. Her open bisexuality - she cited Harold Wilson and Diana Dors as lovers - illustrated a genuine love of carnal activity ("the old slogan of 'make love, not war' was a very good one"), before the predictable spiral to prostitution, kleptomania and cocaine abuse. A chance meeting in a Kensington coffee shop with pioneering Scottish pornographer John Lindsay led Mary to play the title role of MISS BOHRLOCH, the first of around twenty hardcore 8mm shorts made in Britain and on the continent over a four-year period.

Filmed in Frankfurt, MISS BOHRLOCH was a huge success in Europe (some 300,000 copies were sold) and created an underground following back home. Millington runs the whole gamut in her initial outing, and is mesmerizingly unrelenting (no wonder it was awarded the Golden Phallus Award at the Wet Dream Festival in Amsterdam). An insatiable and upbeat call girl in a fur coat, stockings and suspenders, Bohrloch welcomes two men to her flat for a "full service," after giving her address over the phone ("6 Pop Street") and dropping a ping pong ball from her vagina. Dubbed back in the UK, Mary becomes a Southern Belle while her clients are Irish-American, which makes the banal dialogue slightly amusing ("yes, we'll have a little music here"). In best British seaside postcard tradition, there is a punchline of sorts: having spent all their money on the activities, the duo cannot pay for the service charge; Bohrlock smiles and leads them off screen, "you've been well fed, now you can wash the dishes".

ESKIMO NELL is a British sex comedy about the industry in which Mary Millington would become so deeply entrenched.

Directed by Martin Campbell and produced by Stanley Long, ESKIMO NELL saw Mary's mainstream sex comedy debut, albeit for approximately ten seconds. Then a jobbing actress and model using her married name Mary Maxted, Millington's role as a stripping traffic warden auditioning for a film-within-a-film is speed up for comedic effect. But this is more of a footnote for one of the few genuinely entertaining and funny entries in the much maligned sub-genre, which sees fledgling film auteur Dennis Morrison (Michael Armstrong, who also scripted), producer Clive Potter (Terence Edmond) and screenwriter Harris Tweedle (Christopher Timothy) hired by seedy erotic film linchpin Benny U. Murdoch (Roy Kinnear, in his element) to make a dirty movie based on the bawdy poem 'The Ballad of Eskimo Nell'. When each of the backers request a completely different style - and Murdoch makes off with the money - the budding filmmakers attempt to keep everyone happy by providing the first gay Western/hardcore/kung-fu musical for all the family. With four different versions in the can, the hardcore cut is then mistakenly shown at the Royal Charity premiere.

The triumph of ESKIMO NELL is that it is a thinly veiled critique of the film industry itself, and an illustration of the moral guardians of the day: Lady Longhorn and Lord Coltwind - backers of the wholesome version - are caricatures of Mary Whitehouse and Lord Longford; Murdoch is based on Tigon supremo Tony Tenser; and Bick Dick - played by Gordon Tanner - ridicules Louis "Deke" M. Heyward, the London representative of AIP who had previously clashed with Armstrong during the shambles of THE HAUNTED HOUSE OF HORROR. Of other interest is DOCTOR WHO's Katy Manning, who appears as Hermione Longhorn; this was Manning second film after leaving the services of UNIT, the first being the screen adaptation of the Whitehall farce DON'T JUST LIE THERE, SAY SOMETHING! (written by Jon Pertwee's brother Michael).