Monday, 4 June 2012

The Playbirds

When I watch these silly, smutty films, I try not to compare them to 'real' cinema. What's the point? Smut films are simply a means to an end, a delivery mechanism, not an art form, although that's not to say that they can't be artistic or, indeed, that they are all trash, far from it. It's simply that the comparison doesn't work, it's like criticising 'Andy Capp' for not being Rembrandt or vice versa. Sometimes, however, smutters put themselves in the firing line by having a real budget, hiring real actors, attempting real narratives and then, like 'The Playbirds' they run the risk of failing not only on their own terms, but on everyone else's terms too.   

'The Playbirds' is fatally compromised by two factors: ambition not matched in any way by talent, and a nasty misogynistic streak. I don't mean your common or garden 'women are either slags or nags' misogyny, or even your 'women are anonymous always up for it fuck buckets' misogyny, I mean the 'die, bitch, die' type of misogyny, here present in such lethal amounts that it completely derails the film and the seemingly light hearted tone it tries to set. 

There's a serial killer loose in London, and he's knocking off glamour models who have appeared on the cover of 'Playbird' magazine. No, it isn't Mr. Spendoza, but it's an equally nasty, equally psycho individual who strangles his victims and then daubs a number on their dead foreheads in red lipstick. Scotland Yard are baffled - perhaps no surprise given that their top detectives are Dave out of 'Minder' and Gavin Whatnot who used to be on 'Thats Life'. Their commanding officer is Windsor Davies, for fuck's sake: they couldn't catch their breath at a wind farm. 

Magazine owner Harry Dougan (Alan Lake, rotten, as usual) couldn't care less, but manages to convince the fuzz that there's a connection between his racing interests, his porn business and black magic ('the unholy trinity: horses, sex and witchcraft'). This is just incomprehensible nonsense, and the murder plot that they've built up fairly effectively is thrown away in favour of red herrings, false leads and pointless, boring and unerotic sex and stripping scenes. Whenever the action flags, which it does constantly, they have a nasty murder, performed in close up.

Alan Lake, thespian.  

Occult photo session.

Occult close ups.

Don't ask.

Into this mess, the hapless film makers suddenly find a life line, a plot device that could lead them out of the shit. It's in the diminuitive form of Mary Millington, a policewoman who has been trained in self-defence and is desperate to for action. She agrees to go undercover at 'Playbird' and, after proving she can take all her clothes up at the drop of a hat, she's sent to crack the case by putting herself in danger as the next cover star. Ah, you think, Mary is going to kick some arse and catch the killer, hurrah! Think again. Instead, she just becomes a naked spare part who forgets all about the fact that she's a WPC as soon as her drawers drop and starts humping all and sundry, young, old, male, female, animal, mineral and Alan Lake.

Just a few notes on Mary Millington: she's pretty, but not beautiful, and just this side of dumpy. Her voice is awful: hollow and unconvincing, slightly nasal. But, when her clothes are off, she seems lit up from the inside. I'm not trying to make out  that she was 'born' to get her kit off, but she seems to come alive when she's doing it and, as she proves in every other respect, she's not a very good actress. Her tragic end, of course, might suggest otherwise, I'm just saying what I see.


More time wasting follows, although its quite nicely photographed and gives us some interesting imagery before it falls into nastiness again.

Virgin Witch? I doubt it.

Hey, good looking.

I wonder what happened to the Old Swedish Cinema Club?

In the end, whilst Mary is swimming in the nuddy, the men coppers catch the killer . Or so they think. The actual murderer is Bible nut and end of the world merchant Dudley Sutton who, despite being under arrest (like I say incomprehensible), manages to go to Mary's house and murder her. Why? Who knows, but it's a shitty ending to a shitty film, especially as Mary, for all her training, is killed without a fight, disposed of quickly and easily like rubbish.


Mary est mort.

So, not great, failing as a smut film and as a piece of cinema and leaving a nasty taste in the mouth. I wonder why the little men who are obsessed with naked women sometimes hate them so much? 


  1. The end of this dreadful film is very confusing. Dudley Sutton, the bible-basher, isn't the killer. It appears that he has an identical twin brother! It really is that silly.

  2. Ah, I didn't get that at all, which more than proves that you're right, it's really silly.