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.